Attention CX Pros: Ask Less, Act More

As customer experience professionals, we always want to know more: What are our customers thinking as they interact with us and our products? What do they want more of? What part of a transaction makes or breaks the experience? Were they disappointed with our service? The list of questions could go on and on. However, sometimes we don't need to ask more questions to get the answers we seek. The answer could be right in front of you, lying in the data and insight you already have.

The need to act on available data can sometimes get lost in new digital innovations and a steady stream of even more data rolling in. Organizations looking to improve the customer experience often get too wrapped up in the technical side of it, focusing on shiny new technologies while constantly pushing out new surveys and collecting more data. However, it's important that businesses focus on and leverage the data available to them rather than wasting precious resources—not least of which is our customers' time and good will—to collect more. To do this, organizations must act on the data already available and make sure they share the outcomes of these actions with their customers, all while speaking in words and stories (rather than numbers) when relaying insights, suggestions, and improvements back to customers.

Think for a moment about the data you already have: contact center records, emails, complaints processes, CRM databases….do you NEED more? If yes, great. Sometimes we need to maintain tracking studies to keep a pulse on performance or need to collect more feedback to delve deeper into an issue. But don't ask more (or worse, the same) questions if you either don't need the data, already have the information, or have not taken action on the feedback already provided.

Act on available data, then close the loop.

Listening to the voice of the customer is imperative to any customer experience strategy. However, more measurement isn't always the answer. In fact, constantly going after more data can eventually hinder improvements to the customer experience because we don't necessarily need the data but what the data is telling us. By translating the data into actionable insight, you'll then have a deeper understanding into the customer experience throughout the entire buyer journey.

If you have decided to put forth a survey, only do so if you actually need the additional insight and if you are prepared to act on the feedback you receive. This means collecting and interpreting the data, taking appropriate action, and then letting the customer(s) or employee(s) who were part of the survey know what you did based on the available feedback.

It's clear that customer feedback is important, as it can provide early warning signs of dissatisfied and at-risk customers and help you spot broken processes or issues with specific employees. Often, however, companies don't act on customer problems or complaints until it's too late (for example, when the customer cancels a service or switches to a competitor).

One additional way to combat this is by setting up an action management process that enables you to analyze customer feedback as soon you receive it and set alerts to immediately respond to issues and problems. This gives you the opportunity to proactively close the loop and positively influence customer retention.

Also, if possible, use the information you get from your customer surveys to retrain employees or investigate potential defects in your systems.

Don't just speak in numbers.

Numbers are important, and there are many numbers to which you should pay attention as a customer experience professional. For example, the Net Promoter Score (NPS) measures satisfaction and customer loyalty by customers' willingness to refer your business to others. Customer Effort Score (CES) measures the effort customers must put forth to complete their transactions to their satisfaction. These are just a few examples of numbers and key metrics against which you can measure your improvements. However, what are you doing with those numbers after you have them? Do you understand the internal behaviors and transactions that impact these numbers ? Which product, process, or service adjustments are necessary to improve the customer experience?

All too often, we see companies chasing the metrics, whichever ones they choose, and trying to figure out how to move the numbers rather than appreciating them for what they are: numbers. Numbers are important because they give a read on how you're performing at that moment. However, they don't tell you what you've done right or wrong or how to move those numbers.

To combat this, it's essential to start speaking in words again instead of speaking in numbers. We're constantly collecting these numbers (which we agree is an important first step), but what we should then be doing is translating the numbers so that deeper insight and actions are the output.

What's the next step for your organization?

Designing a customer experience program is never one size fits all. What makes sense for your organization might not make sense for the next. What is important for all customer experience programs is making sure you're truly listening to and then acting on the voice of the customer. Hearing from our customers is a gift that in some cases needs to be earned. Don't simply send out another survey because you have the technological means to do so; rather save that customer request for when you really need it and when you (and your organization) are prepared to squeeze out every bit of insight possible and use the valuable feedback shared to the fullest.

Stacey Nevel is director of CX consulting at Confirmit.