The big picture – Don’t have a few minutes to read the whole article? Here’s the big picture…
All organisations are getting judged on customer experience. But research results suggest that most are failing to make the grade.
The need for structured data is constraining the process of collecting feedback. Organisations are good at measuring experiences, but not so good at discovering how to improve them.
The feedback they need is in unstructured text comments. Traditional processes can’t make sense of the raw data at the required scale and time frame.
Growing businesses have on-demand insights. A live picture of their current customer needs and experiences. After all, the customer’s perception is your reality.
All organisations are getting judged on customer experience
80% of companies say they are now competing primarily on customer experience. But the results of that competition don’t look good. Bain & Co, who created the Net Promoter Score (NPS), have been collecting feedback around the UK. Given we now live in the ‘experience economy’, their results are relevant to every industry. Why? Because customers no longer compare experiences within an industry. They compare them against the other brands and companies in their lives. So you may not be competing with their products, but you are competing with their experiences.
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou
The research results rank 190 UK brands, across 15 industries, on their NPS score. Just like the Premier League table, there is a gulf in quality between top and bottom. But what’s shocking is how few businesses don’t even make it over half way. They still have more detractors than promoters. More customers who would argue against the brand than for it. This suggests to me that the way they’re working isn’t working.
This story isn’t limited to FMCG brands and cool startups. Of the 17 brands with an NPS over 40, five are banks. The top ranked brand is an insurance company. These aren’t industries renowned for great experiences, yet some brands are standing out.
“There’s an assumption in industries like banking, which are quite mature, that there’s a natural ceiling to great customer experience. Customers won’t love a bank and they will never be as good as a technology company. What we can see is that’s not true” – Stanford Swinton, partner at Bain & Company
Collecting feedback is constrained by structured data
The problem for most brands is that they have huge blindspots. Blindspots created by old school feedback processes that can’t adapt or scale. Success in the experience economy requires making fast and informed decisions. But for most organisations, speed and insight are a trade-off. They can make fast decisions, using gut feel or a quick tick-box survey. Or they can make informed decisions by waiting for new in-depth research.
What organisations need to hear is the real voice of the customer. It’s a rich source of needs, emotions and experiences. But it doesn’t fit neatly into boxes. It’s found in feedback forms, social media comments, reviews and emails. Or it’s shared verbally and then written in dusty notebooks. So traditional methods of collecting and analysing customer data don’t work. Making sense of the text feedback requires some poor soul having to manually review, summarise or tag it. In some cases, they first have to copy/paste all the text. It’s a slow and inconsistent process – and not much fun.
The feedback you need to be collecting is in unstructured text comments
This business problem is getting bigger. Unstructured feedback is growing in volume and velocity. It’s estimated that 80% of the data now available to businesses is unstructured. As experiences improve, consumers are comparing across industries. The ones they love and hate are getting called out. Sometimes in direct feedback, sometimes in public.
In return for sharing their reality, they expect to be heard. They expect businesses to be listening, and responding. If not, they’ll take their time and money somewhere else. The same Bain & Co research found that Detractors were 2-3 times more likely to be looking to switch brands.
In their future of CX report, PwC surveyed 15,000 consumers. They found that 1 in 3 customers will leave a brand they love after just one bad experience. 92% would completely abandon a company after two or three negative interactions. I don’t know about you, but as a manager I would want to know when my customers were getting a bad experience. And I would want to know immediately, while I still had time to take action.
Businesses need on-demand insights
How businesses listen to their customers and market needs a fundamental re-think. Shoe-horning customer emotions and experiences into tick-box surveys reduces accuracy and hides context. It’s time to look beyond surveys and start listening to customers properly.
Keeping up with customers in the experience economy requires an organisation to have:
their finger on the pulse. Businesses track everything from ad responses to cash flows on a daily basis. So why is customer feedback measured quarterly or even annually? Are customer experiences really that consistent over time and touchpoints? Once you look beyond surveys, you see that real-time feedback is hiding in plain sight. Twitter comments, online reviews, emails, feedback forms and verbal comments. Frontline staff also have a great view of real-time experiences, if you can capture it.
everyone is on the same page. Data siloes lead to different departments with different data and different views about the customer. This isnt a recipe for fast or informed decision-making. Imagine the chaos if all 11 players on a football team got different instructions, from different coaches, without anyone seeing the big picture!
With modern technologies it’s possible to get insights on-demand. Flexible databases, machine learning and natural language processing are changing the game. Being able to collect many sources of feedback, in real-time, keeps your finger on the pulse. Having a fast and consistent way to make business sense of text feedback, keeps everyone on the same page. This enables staff to shift gears. To switch from analysing data to taking action with insights. As decision-making becomes more agile, NPS goes up and churn comes down. Now that’s a great outcome from collecting feedback!