Have you heard the story about the elephant? Three blind men felt their way around an elephant and each man believed his interpretation was correct and that the other two were wrong. Without comprehensive data, customer experience officers are as blind and misinformed as the men in the story.
Decision-makers may find themselves reviewing performance data collected from a computer system or database they’ve never seen, making it difficult to assess the accuracy of the data. And given that nearly everything about the customer experience is measurable, how can companies identify the right metrics to get a holistic view of the customer?
Identifying the Target
To measure customer experiences, organizations must first define what the customer experience means to them, explains Gina Ferrara, senior analyst at the research and consulting firm Madison Advisors. “They need to determine what information they would be looking to measure based on its importance to their mission: customer loyalty, customer retention, customer satisfaction, turnover, customer effort, etc.”
Flying Tiger Copenhagen is one such retailer that wants to better understand its in-store and online customer experiences and it’s using social data to help it bridge the gap. Once considered a fad, social media is finally hitting its stride as a valuable source of data insights. If measured correctly, social data can shed light on customer preferences and behavior.
Flying Tiger Copenhagen is a global chain of Danish stores that sell quirky artist-designed products for the home and office. The company introduces up to 300 new products to its stores each month and is increasingly turning to social media for insights into the products that resonate with customers, explains Linda Ghabain, digital content manager at Flying Tiger.
“We look at the customer experience across our stores and the digital world, so we’re constantly looking at reporting to help us connect the offline and online experience,” Ghabain says. “Social is important because we look for mentions and do sentiment analysis to find out if customer reactions are positive or negative.”
The company tracks its social channels using Falcon.io’s social media monitoring and analytics platform. For example, Flying Tiger launched a campaign in September to promote a collaboration with the British artist David Shrigley. Consumers who post photos on Instagram of Shrigley’s office products with the hashtag #StrongMessages enter a contest for a collection of other products designed by Shrigley such as a vinyl bag, socks, yoga mat, etc.
One lucky customer will come away with a lot of free merchandise, but Flying Tiger also wins by keeping track of the images that are being posted and the responses to the items. “We’ll gather the data at the end of the month to see how customers engaged with the [photos of the] products and share it with the marketing and commercial teams,” Ghabain says.
Indeed, social data can provide interesting insights into customer behavior, but there’s still more to be done, observes Falcon.io CEO and Founder Ulrik Bo Larsen. “Many people are going after different facets and slices of the customer record,” Larsen notes. “We’re coming at it by focusing on digital touchpoints and companies are moving towards the holy grail of a full customer record but no one is quite there yet.”
Pieces of the Puzzle
Part of the challenge to getting a full view of the customer stems from relying on channel-focused metrics, notes Ian McCaig, CMO and co-founder of Qubit, a customer engagement platform provider. “Each department typically measures its part of the customer experience but aggregating that data and making it accessible for the rest of the organization is still a major struggle,” McCaig says. “Progressive companies are working on being channel agnostic and investing in foundations to centralize their data but unless you’re willing to work on those changes, you’re probably still looking at the customer in a vacuum.”
Cheryl Flink, chief strategy officer for Market Force Information, a customer experience information company, agrees that shared metrics are needed to provide a more accurate picture of the customer experience. And while popular metrics like Net Promoter Score (NPS), customer effort level, and customer satisfaction offer useful insights, it’s important to think critically of the experience that each one measures, Flink says.
“For example, NPS is helpful when you’re measuring a brand in which a huge investment was made to distinguish the brand. You want to know whether people are likely to recommend it to others,” she says. “Where NPS breaks down is if you’re looking at transactional scenarios in ubiquitous brands, such as buying a burger at a global chain. In that case, measuring the customer satisfaction of each location makes more sense.”
Similarly, measuring the customer effort level would be most useful in situations where customers want to get in and out quickly, such as a gas station. By the same token though, “you don’t want it to be just a numbers game,” Flink adds. Organizations that are purely focused on performance rates and percentages risk losing sight of the customer. “You want your employees to remember that these numbers represent people.”
Flink points to a client, GameStop, as an example. In addition to surveying its customers, GameStop executives make it a point to share feedback and emails from customers praising associates for taking the time to share gaming tips with them and converse with them as fellow gamers. “Doing things like that can remind your employees that their work matters and that they’re there to delight customers,” Flink notes.
Seeing is Believing
Video testimonials are another way to capture the human component of customer feedback. Cabela’s, for example, is working with InMoment, a customer experience management company, to enable customers to leave customer feedback via video recordings. In addition to traditional channels like email and the phone, Cabela’s plans to allow customers to leave video feedback as part of its new customer listening strategy. Customers will receive a call-to-action, such as on a receipt, with a website where they can record the video on their computers or phones.
The InMoment platform will then transcribe the video for sentiment and text analysis and combine it with other customer feedback data for improving the customer journey. InMoment does not provide facial recognition or analyze facial expressions. It’s unclear when the video feedback feature will be officially rolled out, but the company began testing it earlier this year and it already shows promise, according to Nathan Borowski, communications specialist at Cabela’s. “Video adds a new layer to our customer feedback data that we didn’t have before,” he notes.
For example, the videos can serve as customer testimonials that are shared internally with the company’s employees. And whereas reading how pleased or disappointed a customer was in the service he or she received is valuable, seeing the emotion conveyed on a customer’s face can be even more impactful.
Measuring the customer experience is not a static process; it is a dynamic practice that companies must stay on top of in order to receive accurate results. However, a disciplined strategy that includes defining the goal and collaborating with others on sharing data insights and learnings will ensure that the company will be able to stay abreast of those changes.