“As the Internet has sped up the consumer experience, customer expectations are higher.” – Greg Gianforte
“I think if companies start reinventing themselves and focus on the customer experience more, they will win out in the end.” – Alfred Lin
The Internet age has brought an avalanche of information and services to our finger tips. I can’t remember the last time I did not check Amazon before making a purchase decision, or reflexively hit the Google app on my phone to check for a song title or the name of an actor in the show I’m watching. Throw in the fact that I can order pretty much anything at any time right from phone, and the use cases are immense.
The downside for businesses, however, is that all this immediate access to (almost) everything means that customers expect things to move quickly, to be easy, and to accomplish exactly what they want when they want. If any of those needs are not being met, there is usually a competitor vying for the same customers. Businesses today need to understand what needs to be changed before it becomes a major problem and take corrective action as quickly as possible. Continuous customer experience tracking can help you do just that.
Continuous Experience Tracking is Much More Than Just Comment Cards
Even in this day and age businesses have those comment cards available to their customers. The problem with this is obvious: you only receive negative feedback from customers who are angry enough to take time to write it down. The feedback is also usually too narrow to understand the overall experience.
Have you ever gone to a home improvement warehouse (orange color scheme) and the cashier hands you a receipt with a link to a survey and asks you to give him/her a “10” score because it helps them out? That is not measuring the customer experience; that is a program that incentivizes employees with a flawed system, causing them to make an emotional plea.
This model is alive in Internet-based transactions as well. If your transaction receipt includes a “how did we do?” section that you can click to give feedback, this is just a digital comment card. They might check off boxes for the company that says they are measuring customer satisfaction (ISO standards require only tracking of customer satisfaction, not necessarily effective tracking), but I can guarantee that they do little to help the company improve the customer experience.
Effective Customer Experience Tracking is Inclusive
The biggest difference between the comment card model and continuous experience tracking is the proactive nature of effective tracking. To truly understand what is working, what is not, and what needs to be improved, you need feedback from as many customers as you can reach. Your biggest and most important audience consists of customers who might not be 100% satisfied, but are not willing to take the step to tell you about it on their own. They are the ones that easily jump ship to a competitor that meets their needs better. If you don’t actively ask for their feedback you will never know where to focus resources. You also need to hear from those who are satisfied. A big piece of experience tracking is knowing where your company performs strongest and then using that knowledge in sales and marketing activities.
Effective Customer Experience Tracking Shows You What to Work on First
Collecting customer feedback is most effective if you understand what to change first to make the biggest impact. This just makes sense – something may not be working well, but if it has little impact on overall satisfaction, it is not (yet) worth working on. It is important to understand not only specific issues that may be event-driven, but also a composite loyalty score so that advanced analytical techniques can be used to correlate loyalty with specific issues. Problems that are highly correlated with loyalty and not performing well enough are the first targets for change. Problems that are not performing well, but are not highly correlated with loyalty, are next in line for correction. We map these attributes on a quadrant map that tells you what to work on first. Tracking studies that do not include this context are still useful, but they may not be as useful as they could be.
Effective Customer Experience Tracking Allows You to Test Incremental Improvements
As I said above, the key to competing effectively these days is the ability to make rapid changes that meet or exceed the expectations of customers. Continuous tracking allows you to make key incremental changes quickly, and test those changes in a short time span. Part of the challenge in testing customer experience once or twice a year is that the you might not be able to see the effect of your changes before there is irreparable change to your image. Imagine changing your company’s marketing strategy completely, but not checking progress for 6 months. The damage may be unchangeable by then. The same applies to small changes in our hyper-speed economy. You need the ability to review changes in a short time frame so you can take evasive action if it’s not working out as you envisioned.
Continuous Customer Experience Tracking is More Cost Effective
There are certainly hard costs associated with continuous vs. large cross-sectional studies that are fielded once a year. Continuous studies are typically shorter and more targeted, which means lower incentives (if any are provided). Surveys are typically not changed much over time. Less time editing a survey means less consulting time and lower costs.
But continuous tracking research is also more cost effective outside of hard costs:
- They don’t require a large time investment by an internal team to create, field and analyze large surveys.
- They require more targeted research, which does not involve as many departments to complete.
- They allow you to make changes more quickly, which may lead to a better customer experience and resulting loyalty.
- They allow you to see the result of changes earlier, and take corrective action sooner if necessary.
- Research shows that even just asking for feedback in a genuine way can improve customer loyalty by itself.
We Understand Effective, Continuous Customer Experience Tracking
Actionable Research can help you design and deploy effective, continuous customer experience studies, no matter who your audience is. We can help realize the cost savings and give you what you need to make changes and take corrective action quickly to help you compete effectively in your market.