Guest Column | October 9, 2017

The Customer Data Is Always Right: Ask Less, Act More To Enhance Customer Experience

5 Ways Electronic Data Capture (EDC) Reports Can Protect Clinical Research Timelines

By Stacey Nevel, Director of VoC Consulting, Confirmit

Today, there are many moving parts for retail organizations looking to enhance the customer experience. The ever-increasing need to deliver convenient, differentiated, and personalized service means it is imperative to listen to the Voice of the Customer (VoC) at multiple touchpoints and channels.

Retailers are always looking to uncover more and more about their customers and are inclined to ask questions such as: What are their current and future interests? What products or features do they want most? Did their most recent visit or interaction enhance their perception of my brand? However, sometimes the best information comes from not asking any questions at all. Sometimes the answer lies in data that’s already available.

Listen To The Voice Of The Customer

More measurement isn’t always the answer. Many organizations know data collection is important, so they assume they need to collect it constantly. However, repeated efforts to gather more data can actually hinder improvements to the customer experience. Data gathering, while an important and ongoing step, is not the goal — insight gained from the data is. By translating data into actionable insight, retailers have a deeper understanding into the customer experience throughout the entire buyer journey.

Additionally, if an organization has decided to ask their customers for input, they must close the loop. This means assessing the data, acting on the data, and then letting the customer(s) or employee(s) who were a part of the survey process know what was done based on the available feedback. Communicating both tactical (one-on-one) and strategic (big picture) outcomes demonstrates to your customers they have been heard and that their sentiments matter.

Couple The Available Data With The Voice Of The Employee

For brick-and-mortar stores especially, the employees are at the front line — in-person with the customers. These employees have a unique perspective on what’s happening at the store, what customers are saying to their friends, what displays they are particularly drawn to, and more informal quantitative feedback that a survey might not capture. Retailers must gather feedback from their employees to couple with the data gathered from the VoC. Retailers should make an effort to really hear what their employees are saying, and give them the opportunity to provide feedback in the right way and at the right time. Rather than deploying another survey to an unhappy customer, gathering feedback from the employees can give an extra layer of insight and, perhaps, help to pinpoint and address the customer’s problem.

Turn Metrics Into Insight

There are many numbers you should be paying attention to as a customer experience professional, such as the Net Promoter Score® (NPS) or Customer Effort Score (CES). Yes, it’s great to have these metrics, but what are you doing with those numbers after you obtain them?

More often than not, we see organizations chasing metrics and benchmarks to figure out how to move the number higher or lower, whichever way might be best for that scenario. This often leads to behavior that focuses on changing the number in the short term, as opposed to changing behaviors that positively impact the customer experience for the long term. In the scheme of things, a metric is just a number. What that number means is important. Understanding how our behaviors, interactions, products, and services impact these numbers allows us to take positive and corrective actions that our customers can see and feel.

Operational Data Matters Too

While the voice of the customer is critical to the customer experience, for maximum effect retailers should be linking their VoC to their operational data. Often the silent ‘voice,’ operational data tells us what our customers are buying or using, how often, in which ways, and how much they are investing in our products and services.

The data organizations already have about their customers can help weave very telling stories about their customer groups, segments, and personas. Pairing customer sentiment with transactional, product, and/or customer tenure information helps companies better understand who might be most profitable, for what reasons, and how to encourage more of that same behavior. Similarly, knowing who the frequent users of services or resources are along with sentiment may alert organizations to product or channel issues that may otherwise go unnoticed.

So, What Should A Retailer Do?

Enhancing the customer experience and designing a customer experience program is unique for each and every company. The key takeaway is to ensure you’re truly listening to the voices of your customer (VoC) and employee (VoE), and then acting upon the data. There are rich insights that can be found in the data you already have — you just have to make sure you’re looking.