4 principles for modern VoC collection

pic from digisweetspot.com

In this week’s The Modern Customer Podcast host Blake Morgan had an interesting chat with Tom Hale, the president of SurveyMonkey. One of the topics they discussed was around creating the perfect survey experience, and what metrics to use.

This is something I believe many companies struggle with, and CX professionals try to get right, amidst the various interests and requests of the different stakeholders and forces within their organisations.

From my point of view, when it comes to setting up a modern framework and system to collect voice-of-customer, there are 4 simple principles to follow:

  1. Customer-centric design – gather feedback when it most matters to the customer. Tom’s example in the podcast is a good one. He received a treadmill, and while struggling to assemble it he was already being peppered with surveys to gather feedback on the delivery – when the company should have been focusing on ensuring he was alright setting things up and making it work.
  2. X-data effortless collection – gather feedback in a way that makes it easier for the customer. Survey questions need to be simple to read, easy to understand, bring back the experience in question, and have answers that are easily associated with the customers’ judgement. Stephanie Thum‘s example in this tweet illustrates it well – the question was: “If needed, would you use this service in the future?“, response was “Very Satisfied” to “Very Dissatisfied“. Makes no sense, right?
  3. Embed in the experience – gather feedback where it’s more convenient to the customer. Wherever possible, but only if it doesn’t disrupt things (!), ask for feedback in or during the experience. Rather than diverting customers somewhere else straight after the experience, which can seem a hassle, or sending them an email / message a few hours or days later – by then, they may have already lost the excitement or memory of what happened.
  4. Focus on actionable insight – gather feedback that induce change and drive improvement. It’s important to collect a global indicator of the outcome of the experience, and whether it was effective (e.g. CSAT question). And it’s also very important to ask for the detail, and understand the “why” (e.g. open text question). But these are the customer’s perceptions, which you cannot change. Hence, it’s even more important to ensure you understand what impacted the customer’s perception. The things or areas for which you can identify owners within the company, and push for change (e.g. drivers question).

There are many other steps to follow, but I wanted to KISS you (keep it short and simple 😊). If you work on these 4 principles, you are setting yourself up with a good foundation for collecting good quantity and quality of Voice-of-Customer data.

Useful CX Metrics You May Not Be Using

(This is the first post of a series of guest blogs that I will be publishing in the coming weeks and months, authored by a number of renowned CX specialists, practitioners, and gurus. It’s my pleasure to have Ben Motteram as my first guest).

There are at least two very good reasons to measure the experience you’re providing customers.

The first is best summarised by the father of management thinking, Peter Drucker, when he said “if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it”. As CX Managers we need to understand the experience we are currently providing customers in order to transform it.

The second has to do with your CX strategy. Any strategy worth its salt will be comprised of three components:

  1. An understanding of where you are today,
  2. The desired future state, and
  3. A plan for how you’re going to get there. 

And metrics are crucial to building out your understanding of your current position.

If you Google “CX Metrics”, once you get through all the ads for feedback vendors, you’re going to quickly find that most people like to talk about Net Promoter Score, Customer Effort Score (CES) and Customer Satisfaction (CSAT). All three have their pro’s and con’s but when used as part of a system they’re all good. 

But there’s enough posts about them on the internet (hell, I’m guilty of even publishing one or two) so I’m going to look at a few metrics today that you’re probably not using.

Now, the metrics you use to measure your CX are going to differ depending on the type of business you are. An e-business that operates 100% online will need different metrics to a physical store which will need different metrics to a national cable company with a call centre and technicians visiting customers in their homes daily. 

So let’s look at each of those examples in turn:

e-Business

In this scenario, customers order a product online for it to be delivered so there are two aspects of the experience we can measure: the online experience and the delivery experience. Metrics I’d be looking at for each include:

The online experience

  • Webpage uptime – What was the percentage of time that customers could not access our website? When did those periods occur?
  • Bounce rate – What was the percentage of visitors who came to our site and then left rather than continuing to view other pages on the site?
  • Abandoned carts – What percentage of customers began shopping and then stopped mid-purchase? What page were they on when they stopped? If customers had logged in prior to abandoning their cart, what was the general demographic profile of customers who abandoned their carts?
  • Page load time – How long did it take each page to load causing our customers to wait?
  • How many times was the FAQ guide accessed? This indicates customers weren’t able/didn’t know how to do something.
  • How many times was an online agent requested mid-purchase? Again, this indicates customers weren’t able/didn’t know how to do something.

The delivery experience

  • What was the average time between a customer ordering the product and receiving it for both metropolitan and regional areas?
  • What percentage of deliveries were made after our commitment date?
  • What percentage of returns on the first day were because of damage (which we will assume was caused by delivery)?
  • What percentage of customers were notified that the product was being delivered on the day?
  • How did customers rate the delivery person? How many complaints were received about delivery people?

Physical Store

Owners of a physical store are going to need a completely different set of metrics to measure their CX. I’ll break these down between the store itself and the service provided by employees within the store:

The store

  • The shopping experience begins before the customer enters your store. If they drove, how easy or hard was it for them to find a park?
  • Did we have the product(s) the customer was looking for?
  • How easy/hard were those products to find in our store?
  • How did customers rate the general appearance of the store for cleanliness/tidiness?

The customer service

  • How did customers rate the employee(s) they interacted with whilst on site for appearance, service, courtesy, knowledge, communication and professionalism?

National Cable Company

In this scenario, I’m using a cable company because I’ve worked at a few of them and know them well but it could be any company with a contact centre that sends technicians to customers’ homes or businesses. The two aspects of the experience I’ll focus on here is the contact centre and the technician visit.

The contact centre

Every good contact centre will already be measuring things like FCR, AHT, ASA, and QA (boy there’s a lot of acronyms in the contact centre world!) so let’s look at some other metrics:

  • Average After Call Work Time – A subset of AHT, this is the average amount of time it takes to wrap up a case after the customer has disconnected.
  • Unplanned agent leave days – people not turning up to work when you’d planned for them to be there affects CX.
  • Agent Turnover Rate – What percentage of agents leave each year? Not only will this increased hiring and re-training costs but less experienced agents can’t provide the same level of service to customers that an experienced, knowledgeable agent can.
  • Escalation Rate – What percentage of cases were escalated both from self-service to a live agent, as well as between different tiers of agents and managers. More agent-to-manager or cross-tier escalations may indicate expertise or confidence issues with the service agents, particularly among those agents with the highest rates. A high escalation rate from self-service to live agents could mean current self-service options are not effectively answering customer questions.

The technician visit

  • Right First Time – Did the technician do the job they were originally sent to do or was rework involved?
  • Call On Approach – Did the technician call the customer before arriving to let them know they were coming to ensure the customer would be there?
  • Appointment Window Met – Did the technician arrive within the specified appointment window?
  • How did customers rate the technician they interacted with whilst they were on site for appearance, service, courtesy, knowledge, communication and professionalism?

In all cases mentioned above, I’d also be measuring complaints and the time it took to resolve them. Complaints are a key indicator that your customer experience has broken down and Time To Resolve tells you how long it took to fix. As a CX Manager, your goal should be of course, to get the first metric down to 0 and the second as low as possible.

So there you have it, some of the more uncommon metrics that can be used to measure customer experience. If you’re using any others I’d love to hear about them. Please add them in the comments section of this post.

“Measurement is the first step that leads to control and eventually to improvement. If you can’t measure something, you can’t understand it. If you can’t understand it, you can’t control it. If you can’t control it, you can’t improve it.” – Dr. H. James Harrington.

[Image courtesy of Patricia Serna on Unsplash]

Ben Motteram is a customer experience consultant with over 20 years’ experience in customer acquisition and retention. Through his company, CXpert, he helps companies become more human in the way they interact with customers and employees to increase loyalty, engagement, and ultimately profits. An avid golfer living in Melbourne, follow Ben on Twitter for insights on CX, customer service and employee engagement or connect with him on Linked In.

Calculate ROI of CX: a simple example

It is true (and recent research shows) that Customer Experience has finally gathered the attention of the executive boards, convincing the C-level that it’s crucial to invest in order to ensure customer-driven growth.

However, CX practitioners are wrong if they think that CEOs will back their initiatives, and CFOs will release resources, because studies say happier customers spend more. They need to know how much they can expect from the investment.

Return on Investment (ROI) of CX programs and initiatives is still something that makes some CX practitioners scratch their heads. But the truth is that calculating the ROI of CX isn’t much different from calculating it for any other investment.

I will share with you, one example that I have learnt, and should be straightforward to apply and use. You will need:

  • Experience Data (X-data) – which you are already gathering from surveys.
  • Operational Data (O-data) – which you have in your CRM or ERP systems.

Let’s use CSAT as a metric of reference (you could use any other, like NPS, CES)

  • From X-data, find Top 20% customers. Get Customer IDs and CSAT score
  • From X-data find Bottom 20% customers. Get Customer IDs and CSAT score
  • From O-data find the Yearly Spend for all those customers. Use Customer IDs

With that data, calculate the average CSAT and and the average yearly spend for the Top and Bottom 20%. Below is an example of the results you could get:

  • Top 20% customers – average CSAT 80 points – average spend $250/year
  • Bottom 20% customers – average CSAT 40 points – average spend $20/year

Next steps are:

  • Calculate CSAT difference in both groups (example above 40 points)
  • Calculate average spend difference in both groups (example above $135/year)
  • Divide one for the other to get result (example above $135 / 40 = $3.375)

Now you can tell the board of executives that: “for each additional CSAT point, we expect to drive an increased value of $3.375 per customer

How to lose a customer without even knowing

Not too long ago I wrote about how non-sense policies – built by banks who do not treat experience management as a discipline – can kill not only customer but also employee experiences. Here it is: Bank Policies – Killers for CX and EX.

Companies can also kill experiences way before the customer bumps into one of those non-sense policies. They can lose customers before even acquiring them, and without even knowing it. Some times in the most basic of interactions.

That is exactly what happened last week. I was looking around for mortgages and, after some online browsing, I decided to visit three banks – those that not only have a good brand, but are also known for having the best offerings.

The interaction with the first bank was formal and process-oriented. It focused on the information they needed for the “mortgage calculator” and risk assessment – How much is your annual income? How much is the house? How much do you want to borrow?

The interaction with the second bank was very friendly and customer-focused. They wanted to know the purpose of the buy and understand my needs – Is it a house for the family to live in? Are you investing to sell or rent? How urgent is it for you to buy it?

The third bank lost my business without even knowing. Without me having the opportunity to talk to anyone about a mortgage. Funnily enough, it was the bank that (according to reviews) has the best financial offers, with the lowest interest rates.

The story is simple. I went to the branch and rang the door (Covid-19 procedure requires doors closed and one person at a time). There was a man inside, who pretended he didn’t see me. I waited a few seconds, knocked on the door and waved.

Reluctantly he came to the door and shouted from the inside that it was lunch time, and I should come back one hour later. I smiled, walked back to the car, and drove away. Needless to say that I didn’t come back.

Despite the prospect of good financial conditions, I didn’t come back because…

  1. A person that doesn’t ask what my enquiry is about isn’t interested in helping me;
  2. A person that doesn’t open the door to talk to me doesn’t deserve my attention;
  3. A bank that is only open 9AM to 3PM isn’t necessarily thinking about my needs;
  4. A bank that closes at lunchtime is definitely not making it convenient to me.

This bank lost a customer that was looking for a product that would be very lucrative. And they have no idea they lost me, let alone why they lost me. Hence, even if they wanted, they could not do anything about it.

There is a strong chance they will continue losing customers due to this sort of interaction, consequently struggling to acquire new customers, despite efforts in customer acquisition activities (e.g. marketing campaigns, great financial offerings).

They are basically blind. Probably wondering why better products are not attracting new customers. Questioning themselves what can they do or change to grow. Scratching their heads to understand how they are going to deliver results.

To avoid this situation, all they had to do was simply…

  1. Acknowledge my presence, open the door and greet me;
  2. Ask me what I needed, and tell me they would be delighted to help;
  3. Inform that it was lunch time, and apologise for the inconvenience;
  4. Offer to schedule a time that would suit me best (on that or another day).

Post Script – I closed a deal with the second bank. A mortgage is a very important step in one’s life. And on those kinds of situations you want to deal with people that empathise with you, and that you feel will have your best interest at heart and mind.

Not coincidentally, the person in this bank had a card holder in his desk (see picture). For those who don’t know Portuguese, the side that faces the customer has the person’s name and says “You have got all my attention“, while the side that faces the person has two smiley faces meaning: “smile” and “listen“.

Best of CX day (live feed)

Today, 6 October 2020, is CX day and to celebrate it the CX community will be doing lots of online and virtual events.

It’s difficult to follow and attend everything, as many of them overlap, but the good news is that some are recorded or on-demand.

This blog post will be a sort of a live feed, with the talks, webinars, videos and other articles I found interesting and worth watching / reading.

(YouTube video, 1m 47s) VR Vaccine, from Hermes Pardini

(CXPA talk, 9m 36s) Behavioral Science/Behavioral Finance, from Graeme Newell

(YouTube video, 5m 24s) Customer Obsession, from Jeff Bezos

(Article, 10 min read) What is Customer Experience, from GetApp

(Article, 10 min read) 5 Academic Articles For Your CX Professional Development Reading List, from Stephanie Thum

CXPA’s official definition of a CX professional: A CX professional is a catalyst who enhances an organization’s results by understanding, designing, and improving experiences across the entire customer relationship. (from Greg Melia, CXPA’s CEO)

ACXS – Accredited CX Specialist

The ACXS certification was long overdue for me. I finally found time to do it, thanks to it’s creator and CX guru, James Dodkins, who made a big effort to make it available online.

This is one of the best courses I have ever done, even taking into account those that have little to do with Customer Experience. Because it is concise and practical.

The size of the course is ideal, and its structure is easy to follow. The (video) lessons are short and to the point. And the content (the SCO method) is simply outstanding.

This is not your typical course (e.g. there is no exam at the end). It is a practical course, where you are asked to use the method and its tools on a real-life business scenario.

This means there is very few (if any) theory and lots of practice. And you are evaluated, at the end by James himself, based on your knowledge of the SCO method, and the work you have done.

ACXS is empowering because it allows you to make an immediate impact in your company – using the tools, techniques, frameworks (shared with attendees in PPT format).

Enable your Employee 360 initiative

For a company to be successful it is no longer enough to have great products at attractive prices. There is a need to have a strong workforce of engaged employees, and high-performing teams.

To achieve that, companies must design, implement and run an Employee Experience Program. Establishing it as part of the HR function and initiatives, as well as daily routine.

Any EX Program should have an Employee Feedback Project, which in turn must have a Employee 360 component, where feedback is gathered from an employee’s manager, peers and direct reports.

(Note: Some companies, depending on the circumstances, may also include feedback from external third parties who may work closely with the employee in question – e.g. partners, suppliers).

The Employee 360 feedback provides a holistic view of the employee, and makes everyone comfortable (confidentiality) sharing important feedback, that otherwise may have not been shared.

Running such program, projects and initiatives can be daunting for HR / Talent Management teams. Actually, it may be impossible without technology enabling it, and allowing automation.

The technology should allow companies to:

  1. Create user-friendly and easy-to-use portals for users to provide feedback
  2. Automate process for multi-raters to review and provide employee feedback
  3. Deliver personalised, confidential and detailed reports to employees and managers
  4. Define action plans to manage and track progress, as well as drive improvements
  5. Integrate with HRIS (e.g. Workday, Oracle PeopleSoft, SAP SuccessFactors, Greenhouse)

Qualtrics is one of the leaders when it comes to Employee Engagement software (see G2 Crowd grid) as well as the undisputed leader of Experience Management (see G2 Crowd grid). Below is an example of an automated report, generated on the back of an Employee 360 initiative.

Qualtrics EX 360 Report (Example)

The report shows that when it comes to Communication (top chart) the employee rates himself much higher than peers, direct reports and manager – meaning there is a weakness not being recognised by the employee.

Qualtrics EX 360 Report (Example)

The report then drills-down on the Communication topic, looking at the individual questions of the 360 assessment. It is easy to understand, from the above 3 charts, that the employee’s weakness comes from Active Listening and Understanding, as well as lack of Clear and To-the-point communication.

Qualtrics EX 360 Report (Example)

More than only pointing out the weaknesses and strengths, the automated and personalised report also displays a description and interpretation of the results, providing a list of (pre-defined) actions and steps to follow, in order to improve that particular skill (in this case, taking an “Effective Communications” course on the the company’s LMS platform).

Fix your 4 customer-service-when-things-go-wrong issues

Pic from pinnacleperformancechampions.org

It doesn’t matter how good your product or service is. At some point, things will go wrong. But that is not a problem. We all know nothing is infallible.

The problem lies in the way you respond to that situation, the effort you put into it, how you resolve it, as well as the way you treat customers in that process.

The typical and most frustrating response customers get has four main issues:

  1. reactive – problems come as a surprise
  2. insincere – apologies are not heartfelt
  3. disclaim – it’s never anyone’s fault
  4. giveaway – freebies to shut customer up

The above shows that your company lacks professionalism, empathy, accountability and customer-centricity. This hurts customer’s trust and loyalty, impacting your bottom line.

To fix issue number 1, you need to become Proactive. This doesn’t mean that you must know every single issue that could crop-up. But you must be Vigilant and Action as soon as you notice something could go wrong. I would encourage you to think about James Dodkins PXR (Proactive Experience Recovery) framework.

PXR is the practice of fixing a problem during the crisis or before it happens (…) four-step framework is: identify, monitor, communicate, compensate (…) Identify the problem, monitor the problem during the experience, communicate to the customers that you know something is wrong even if they aren’t aware, and compensate for errors

James Dodkins on Kustomer Podcast 9 Jul 2020 (link here)

To fix issue number 2, you should make sure that your staff shows Empathy towards the customer, and offers Earnest apologies. Following up by fixing the issue, ensuring that it was an one-time-only apology! In a recent chat on Twitter (ICMI chat) Stephanie Thum put it very well.

Apologies mean little, really, when they’re consistently the “go-to” for fixing the systemic problems customers face. Fix the systemic problems! That is the best compensation.

Stephanie Thum on Twitter 25 Aug 2020 (link here)

To fix issue number 3, you need to ensure your organisation has a customer-focused culture that puts emphasis on Accountability, where employees feel Empowered to resolve customer issues, and are rewarded for fixing or actioning, rather than deflecting. Supported by Technology that is easy-to-use and flexible enough to make staff efficient, and problem-solving effective.

To fix number 4, focus on Resolution rather than hesitation, idleness, lethargy. As Stephanie Thum said, fixing the problem “is the best compensation”. Customers are not looking for freebies, but for an easy and effortless experience. And if you feel you want to make up for your mistake, make sure it is seen as a gesture of Goodwill.