“Fast-Forward” on Retail Experience

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The COVID-19 pandemic will have a “fast-forward” effect on certain things, namely in the way we shop with retailers. The transformation was already in progress, but will now happen faster than expected.

Many consumers, particularly in the biggest cities, already shop mostly online and have orders delivered by retailers at home – groceries, clothing, electronics, furniture, etc. The pandemic forced most consumers to do the same.

Some consumers suddenly realised that you can actually do shopping online, having the same offering. Others realised how secure and comfortable it is. Others even noticed how effortless and seamless it can be.

On the retailers side, those who thought it would be hard, and procrastinated their journey to be on-line, finally adopted technology, subscribed to e-commerce platforms (like Shopify) and are now in a much better position to compete.

Opening an online operation, allowing consumers to buy from “distance” also required a customer service setup. Again, many retailers accelerated the adoption of multi-channel customer interaction technology (like Zendesk).

The way we shop, will surely change for good. Going forward, consumers will shop much more online (accelerating the trend of the last decade) and only go to brick & mortar shops when the need exceeds “shopping”.

What I mean is… many people go out shopping (in malls, etc.) not only because they need to buy something, but because they are looking for social interaction and distraction, with family or friends.

This is not news, and that is exactly why malls and retail parks started opening restaurants, cinemas, bowling alleys, entertainment venues for kids, etc. People go there not only (sometimes not even) to buy stuff, but rather to socialise.

The same will now apply to the wider industry – big, medium and small retailers. Meaning everyone will have to do something to attract people to their shops. Of course not all can or have size to build cinemas, so they will have to build Experiences.

Big successful retailers are already pioneering this. Apple designed all their shops with a focus on customer’s experiences. Offering a modern and innovative environment, that unlocks creativity, inspires learning, and encourages connections.

But how do you know what “experiences” will attract customers? Once more, technology can help. Experience management platforms (like Qualtrics) allow companies to reach out and understand customers’ needs, wants, drivers.

That insight can then be turned into action to baseline experiences and improve continuously.

Customer Experience in Water Companies

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In England and Wales, OFWAT (part of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) is the authority that regulates the water and sewerage industry, after services started being provided by private companies, to residential consumers.

A year ago OFWAT issued PR19 (Price Review 19) a comprehensive and stringent report about the way the water industry operates in these countries. And on the back of that, replaced SIM (Service Improvement Mechanism, launched in 2010) for C-MEX.

C-MEX stands for Customer Experience Measurement and is the mechanism OFWAT found to incentivise water companies to become customer-centric and deliver good experiences. Until 2020 incentives would be reputational, and thereafter financial.

But water is a commodity and customers don’t have a choice of supplier. We must use the incumbent in our area. Majority of us don’t even interact with our water company, and a significant subset of us pay bills via direct debit, without even looking.

So how can water companies engage with customers, from a CX perspective? From my point of view there are a couple of things that matter and impact customer’s satisfaction with a water supplier: Brand perception and customer service.

Of course we would like water suppliers to ensure service doesn’t have issues (e.g. leaks, disruptions), that bills are clear, and prices fair. But a new generation also wants companies to care about the planet, and how water is used (or wasted) – see good example in email I received from my supplier (Affinity Water).

When we contact our water supplier (statistic says mostly to complain/report issues) we want empathetic, seamless and efficient interactions. Actually, one of the drivers in C-MEX is complaints handling (and definition of “complaint” includes those made via social media – in line with Consumer Council for Water’s definition).

Another interesting guideline from PR19 is that water companies will need to offer at least 5 communication channels for receiving contacts and complaints. Phone, email, and post seem the obvious ones being used.

Water companies will need to start looking at the enablement of channels like Live Chat, Social Media, and Text Messaging (e.g. WhatsApp), to comply with the 5 channels rule. OFWAT says penalties will apply, if they don’t.

Technology can definitely help water companies comply with PR19, and ensure they follow C-MEX guidelines.

  • An omni-channel ticket/case management platform (like Zendesk) can enable the required multi-channel capability for interaction and complaint management.
  • An experience management platform (like Qualtrics) can enable the required C-MEX capability to measure consumer experience with NPS and CSAT.

Your technology selection approach is broken!

When it comes to choose and buy technology to enable business outcomes, far too many companies still use the same approach of consulting analyst reports, building and issuing RFx, going through long selection and purchasing cycles.

This approach is broken. It is a waste of people’s time and effort, as well as businesses’ money. And, more often than not, it doesn’t provide the desired outcome: the smooth implementation and adoption of a technology that is fit for purpose.

It worked well when technology pricing and licensing models were expensive, required a huge investment in infra-structure, and demanded implementation cycles of many months (sometimes even years). That is history!

Today’s technology platforms pricing and subscription model derisks decisions. Businesses can select a technology; subscribe to it for a very small amount of money and period of time; implement it in a matter of weeks; and prove or disprove its value and adoption.

G2 was created to help change the paradigm, and move the technology selection process to the 21st century – by allowing “real” people to review the technology platforms, rather than just leaving that to a select group of “biased” analysts.

I have said it more than once. What works for consumers must work for companies as well. Purchasing business technology should be as easy and effortless for company’s decision makers, as buying consumer products or services is for all of us.

That is also why G2 came to play a crucial role. It provides “unfiltered reviews” from people who actually use the technology solutions or platforms. More than that, G2 made it simple, clear and easy to navigate and understand, leaving behind jargon.

Furthermore, it innovated! And this post is also to praise them for the creation of the category that looks into Experience Management Software products – where we see Qualtrics (miles away from competition) and Medallia in the Leaders quadrant.

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Closing the loop with Qualtrics and Zendesk

Bill Gates has a famous quote “Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning“. He was spot on. Gathering feedback from customers, in particular those who are not quite satisfied, is crucial for any business.

It is extremely important to use that information to improve products or services, but even more important to close the loop with the customer.

Most businesses send transactional CSAT surveys to customers, after interactions. And then digest, analyse and act on the feedback provided. But many still fail to come back to customers, leaving them to think they were ignored.

Technology can be the enabler, and this video shows how it can be done, using two of the most powerful technologies platforms in the market. On one side, Qualtrics (the XM platfom) and on the other Zendesk (the Customer Service platform), working seamlessly together.

In the scenario shown in the video, a customer receives and responds to a (Qualtrics) CSAT survey. It’s response automatically creates a (Zendesk) ticket, allowing the customer care team to close the loop.

P.S. – This demo was created by the Capventis team (Lydia Castano, Sergiu Ardelean, Adrian Remedios)

 

Predict and improve, before customers churn

It has been a while since AI (artificial intelligence) and ML (machine learning) have been part of the discussions and conversations around how technology can help companies engage with customers, and ultimately earn their business by providing them with a better experience.

The more cocky software companies shout about how the AI and ML capabilities of their technology platforms “will completely transform” our businesses, and make us successful. Other companies, maybe more realistic, say their technology platforms “can enable transformation” and deliver improvements.

But if I’m honest, it always feels that they are exaggerating and over-blowing their own capabilities, and that is probably why many of us still struggle to see how, in reality and in practice, things work and could be applied to our case, and in our business.

One of the problems I see is people try to “run before learning how to walk”. Businesses must be at a specific level of maturity and readiness to adopt certain things, and my preferred approach is always to start with the basics, and make sure it’s done right, before “embarking in bigger adventures”.

And it is also extremely important to understand, that data is the key ingredient. No technology platform or capability (including AI or ML) will deliver any outcome without data. And if you have data, there are very powerful things you can do first, and that you are probably not doing, before trying to get robots to run your business.

An example: Predictive Analysis. Technology platforms with this capability allow you to perform statistical analysis and data mining, using current and historical data, to make predictions about future behaviors. They use ML and predictive modelling to find patterns in that data, and identify risks or opportunities.

Predictive analytics could be used by commercial industries, but also by organisations that serve citizens, students or patients, to determine their behaviour, predict future engagements (purchases or interactions), or even guess if they are about to stop engaging with you.

A use case: Customer Churn. Use technology to help you predict if your customers are in risk of leaving you, or stop buying from you. Understand when they are likely to do that. And, even more powerful, why they are about to do that – which could allow you to amend, correct or enhance things before they do!

If you are going to attempt this, the first thing you should do is define, what “churn” means to your business, as it could have different definitions. A few examples are:

  • A customer cancels a subscription
  • A customer hasn’t logged-in to the website
  • A customer hasn’t purchased over a period of time (e.g. 1 year)
  • A customer has reduced their purchases (e.g. by 50%)
  • A customer has stopped engaging in a community / forum

Once you have that defined, you need to gather a significant (maybe a few thousands of records) and relevant data set (maybe the last 12 to 18 months), which includes customer, operational and experience data, and where each and every record is tagged with “churn” or “no churn”.

You could then feed your technology platform, with this data set, and allow it to build a model, which will help you (with more or less accuracy, depending on the data set you used) predict your customer’s behaviour.

Curious about which technology allows you to do this kind of thing, or how to go about implementing this?… At Capventis, the company I work for, we have helped and enabled a few clients, using technologies like Qualtrics, Qlik or Alteryx.

3 elements of trust. 6 elements of powerful tech

In a very recent and interesting Harvard Business Review (HBR) article, Jack (CEO) and Joseph (President) from Zenger Folkman (a leadership development specialist company) talk about how trust is crucial for leadership, and describes the 3 elements of trust.

  1. Relationships
  2. Judgement
  3. Consistency

I really do encourage you to read the full article here.

But what also caught my attention were a few statements that tell us a bit about their research and study, and how they were able to derive such insight.

  • by looking at data from the 360 assessments of 87,000 leaders
  • able to identify three key clusters of items
  • “we looked for correlations between the trust rating and all other items
  • after selecting the 15 highest correlations
  • performed a factor analysis that revealed these three elements
  • By understanding the behaviors that underlie trust

It caught my attention because these are the challenges that most organisations and companies face today, when it comes to measuring and assessing customers and employees experience…

  • How can I easily reach out to my audience – all my employees or customers?
  • How can I easily correlate variables to understand what is impacting the bottom line?
  • How can I easily carry out the necessary analysis to reveal relevant findings?
  • How can I easily identify trends and drivers that can lead to actions?
  • How can I easily understand the behavior of my audience – employees or customers?

Well the answer is… you can do it if you have an established strategy, well defined processes, and very specialist resources. But you can only do it easily if you have an outstanding and powerful technology platform, that enables you to…

  1. Reach out to massive audiences and collect large volumes of data
  2. Combine operational (O-Data) and experience (X-Data) data
  3. Perform statistical analysis on the data collected
  4. Carry out text and sentiment analysis, on free text/comments
  5. Find trends, drivers, and solutions to prioritise
  6. Generate relevant insights and drive actions

In recent years, I have been focusing a lot in helping companies and organisations implement and use technology for such purposes. And within the portfolio of available technology platforms, there are a few that stand out. The one which I believe is best positioned and most powerful is Qualtrics which was recently acquired by SAP. I encourage you to have a look, and try it out, if you haven’t already.

Qualtrics, Medallia and Challenges for CX Pros

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Forrester as just released their Q4 2018 Forrester Wave™ for Customer Feedback Management Platforms, identifying, analysing and scoring the most significant vendors in the market. The report “shows how each provider measures up and helps customer experience professionals choose the right Customer Feedback Management vendor for their organization“.

Forrester’s last evaluation in this space was back in Q2 2017, and since then significant changes and improvements were noticed in the technology platforms. However, challenges on the CX space are still there for CX professionals to face. They are struggling to improve CX due to…

  • Missing strategy and cooperation across the organisation
  • Ad-hoc and uncoordinated projects and initiatives
  • Shortage in customer experience measurement data
  • Disparate operational (O-data) and experience (X-data) data silos
  • Absence of a C-level or senior leadership sponsor
  • Lack of one single experience and feedback management platform

Qualtrics and Medallia are clearly leading the pack, not only in terms of offering but also market presence. And these are the ones I usually hear and talk about, when I’m discussing with my clients.

Forrester recognises that Qualtricshas made significant investments (…) strengthening its position” in particular in its “analytics capabilities by adding the ability to conduct complex conjoint analysis (…) and introducing Predict iQ, which lets clients move from being reactive to proactive by identifying at-risk customers“. But Qualtrics is much more than just a CX platform, as they have built a comprehensive XM platform that brings brand, product, and employee experience together with customer experience.

The other leader, Medallia, also “enables a culture of CX, democratizing insights by bringing the VoC to the frontlines and incorporating the voice of the employee”, and they also “updated its text analytics capabilities and introduced new features like Conversations, which lets customers provide real-time feedback across messaging platforms such as SMS and Facebook Messenger (…) and VoC Anywhere, which lets companies collect feedback natively through various internetconnected devices or platforms”.

One thing is for sure, a Customer Feedback Management platform is critical to CX transformation. Forrester says…

To transform customer experience, CX professionals rely on customer feedback management technologies and services (…) because it helps manage complexity, by centralizing and automating key VoC activities [Listen, Interpret, Act, and Monitor]“.

My X4 Experience

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Qualtrics is definitely at the forefront in the Experience Management (XM) space, and the CEO (Ryan Smith) wants the Qualtrics XM platform to become the “system of record for Experience Management teams, practitioners and specialists“.

It was, therefore, no surprise that X4 Summit (Qualtrics annual conference, which took place two weeks ago in Salt Lake City, Utah) was absolutely fantastic. I had an outstanding experience, at all levels.

The venue was very good, located in downtown Salt Lake City, walking distance from hotels, restaurants, shops and pubs. The layout of the conference was well planned, making it easier to get around and find all you needed.

All staff (in particular the Dream Team) were incredible. The Qualtrics employees welcoming clients and partners, facilitating sessions and delivering hands-on workshops were excellent.

But above all, the speakers were absolutely outstanding. They delivered sterling sessions, sharing knowledge and invaluable insights, presenting what they have done in their organisations, enabled by Qualtrics.

Among these, were the keynote speakers, who delivered some astonishing and inspirational stories. Arianna Huffington, Alex Honnold, Tony Hawk or Magic Johnson, were some of my favourites. Ryan Smith, and his brother Jared, were also fantastic.

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I had the chance to attend, on behalf of Capventis, and was delighted to see it, among a strict list of 10 partners (worldwide), named by the CEO in his keynote speech, as a pioneer partner, in the Qualtrics Partner Network.

Qualtrics considers partners “expert with deep industry knowledge, experience, and insights” and states they were “carefully selected by for their unique domain expertise and XM offering” trusting them to give Qualtrics clients “world-class support”.

This was music to my ears, and a recognition of the work that our team has been doing in the last 2 years, helping organisations implement change and deliver better experiences, leveraging the power of the Qualtrics XM platform, and using it as an enabler.

Among those organisations are some that presented at X4 Summit, like Michelin or Allianz, who had some inspiring stories, innovative initiatives and simply great experiences to share with the audience that filled the breakout session rooms.

Seeing some of my fellow CXPA members and CCXP professionals, was also a highlight. As was taking the opportunity to do a couple of exams – in the Experience Basecamp – and attain two certifications (RC Core Expert and CX Expert).

For those who really love the XM platform, the highlight of the week was definitely when Ryan and Jared presented the new suite of IQ Products (by the way, it was the best technology demo I have seen in any software vendor conference).

The latest version of Qualtrics iQ brings the iQ Directory and Predict iQ to complement the already known Text iQ, Stats iQ and Driver iQ, creating “a set of advanced intelligent features built directly into the Qualtrics XM Platform. Powered by machine learning and artificial intelligence” and making “predictive intelligence and statistical analysis accessible for the rest of us”.

To supplement all of this great activity, Qualtrics put on an astonishing show in the evenings, for all the 7,000 attendees to network, socialise and have some fun. A Casino night, a skating performance by Tony Hawk (9 time gold medallist in X-Games), Andy McDonald (8 time gold medallist in X-Games) and a few others, a Maroon 5 concert in the final night, and a Ski Day in the final day of the conference.

G2 Crowd Grid® for Feedback Management

G2 Crowd claim to provide “real-time and unbiased user reviews” that will help companies “objectively assess” the best technology solution for one’s business. Rather than spending “too much time sifting through spin, reading outdated analyst reports, and sitting through endless meetings“. G2 Crowd offers “unfiltered reviews from peers who use similar solutions” and “relevant references and expertise” offered by users rather than the vendor itself. This sounds pretty powerful!

I’ve been talking about the importance of feedback and how crucial it is to hear the Voice-of-Customer and Voice-of-Employee (as well as Voice-of-Process, in some instances), and G2 Crowd recently published their G2 Crowd Grid® for Enterprise Feedback Management – which shows the best Enterprise Feedback Management software solutions following customer satisfaction and scale.

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Qualtrics – which I have mentioned a few times before – is leading the pack. And up there from almost every perspective: Best ROI, smoothest implementation, most usable or easiest to do business with. It is indeed a fantastic platform and technology, that I would recommend you look at if you are embarking in feedback or experience management projects.

Federer, Feedback and CX

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Roger Federer is a legend. So far (yes, I believe he still has a couple of more to win) he has won a record 19 Grand Slam titles, and over $100 million in prize money. He is the best of the best. A GOAT (Greatest Of All Time).

Roger is coached by Stefan Edberg, who was #1 and won 6 Grand Slam titles, Ivan Ljubicic, who has a career high #3 and never reached a Grand Slam final, and Severin Lüthi, the head-coach, who gave up tennis when he was 20 with career high #622 and no titles!

Now the question is: Why does Federer need or even seek advice and feedback from people who are light-years away from his capability? People who have never even dreamed of achieving what the Swiss was able to achieve? People, like his head-coach, who have nothing to show for in tennis?

The answer is simple, and one that applies to you and your company. No matter how successful you are, you can never turn down a piece of advice and you always need feedback on how to improve. That is the only way you will be able to keep improving, and that is how the best keep being successful.

It doesn’t matter if the feedback comes from who you might think knows less than you about your business, product or service. Sometimes all you need is another perspective. One that is different from yours. And turns out that most times, in particular in business, customers and employees know more about it than you. They’re the users, they’re the frontline!

In business feedback is absolutely crucial. The best companies not only embrace feedback but, above all, they act on it. Customer feedback and Employee feedback are probably the most important ones, as they give you a true reflection of the experience your company is delivering, allowing you to address and move forward. To capitalise on the good things and improve the bad ones.

If you’re only starting the feedback journey then you should look into surveying your customers and employees. Surveys are the primary building block of Voice-of-Customer or Employee (VoC / VoE) programs – a key part of Customer Experience programs – as they help you gauge how customers and employees feel about the experience you deliver.

Once you have the data collected you need to analyse and make sense of the feedback. And after that you need to be able to reach actionable insights. That is the difficult bit. Finding meaning in your data and identifying the trends. Things that sometimes are buried deep under customers’ free text comments or responses.

It’s been over a year, since I came across and started working with a technology that enables all of the above, Qualtrics. The world’s leading enterprise research platform with over 8,500 brands using it to manage their Experience. Be it the Customer Experience (CX), Employee Experience, Product Experience or Brand Experience.

The motto of this blog is “Customer Experience and Technology to Enable It“. Well here is a technology that will definitely enable you to improve the Customer Experience you deliver.