Leveraging Data to Create Seamless CX
Reading Time 8 mins
As consumers, we’re enveloped by new technology that creates a dizzying array of multiple new digital touchpoints that go far beyond websites and phones. Everything from smart homes to streaming content means there have never been more ways to interact with our favorite brands. How able are brands to take part in the conversation though? This series looks at the customer journey execution gap that has opened up in the space between and the reality of what brands can offer.
In this series so far we are looking at how legacy systems and processes can result in unwieldy and costly operating models that frustrate customers and employees alike. The results are customer journey execution gaps that open up: those spaces in the customer journey where high expectations meet harsh reality.
In this article we’re going to be looking at how, by leveraging customer data, you can begin to tackle the customer journey execution gap through optimisation of the customer journey. Firstly, we’ll look at understanding why your customers are contacting you. Then we’ll look at how to know what they really think of your business.
The journey that customers take, from initial awareness through to a purchase, and then (hopefully) on to a longer relationship as a satisfied and loyal customer, can be complex and long.
There are plenty of opportunities where the customer may switch to an alternative because of friction or complexity. Understanding this is essential when building a strategy focused on improving the customer relationship. The first step in doing this is your contact strategy: using customer data to understand why the customer is contacting you.
What’s Your Contact Strategy?
How well do you understand the path your customers already take when they make contact with your brand? It’s not just asking why the customer is contacting you: it’s also working back upstream from the contact to determine whether or not in the future you could (or would) have wanted to have treated it differently.
This means looking at every contact that you’re currently managing, and drilling down to a granular level of understanding about what those contacts are actually about.
This understanding then opens the door to potentially transformational outsourcing. First by understanding the demands customers are placing on your contact channels, before then reshaping that demand so that you can make sure you’re focusing your resources on high-value, high-return customer touchpoints.
The first step is establishing a methodology to categorize those different levels of contact.
Why Are Your Customers Contacting You?
At Webhelp, we use a methodology that categorizes customer contact into four reasons:
- The Customer Needs Help or Assistance. This could mean that they want to buy something, so there is an immediate sales opportunity. It could also mean they need specific human advice and assistance that’s not available on the self-service channels.
These contacts could also be customers that potentially haven’t been offered the right self service solution, or have simply bypassed digital self service on the website or the app.
- Self-Service. The customer needs help, but they can find the information alone quickly and easily. In many cases, if it is faster and easier to locate information using self-service then this becomes the preferred channel.
- Avoidable Contact. It might sound unusual, but this is the contact that should never really have happened. Often it’s failure demand, caused by the company failing to properly service its customers. For example, when a package is lost and a customer needs to chase it up and ask for details. Ideally a proactive communication strategy – such as the delivery company sending updates by text – should avoid almost all of these types of customer interactions.
- Required Contact. This is where the customer is obliged to contact the brand, but they may not necessarily want to. Let’s call them the necessary evils, so completing the Know-Your-Customer details when applying for a financial product, for example.
But you need to make them as simple as possible, as while it’s a process the company needs the customer to follow, it’s not one that a customer enjoys. Take any KYC process, or anti-money laundering process necessary to open an account. Companies need to make them as simple as possible, with a joint focus on cost saving and customer experience improvement through that.
Grouping contact like this helps a business understand the type of journey that a customer may require, or may be expecting. Understanding why customers are engaging is just the start. You can then start the process of mapping the journey they take. In the next blog we’ll look at how that mapping can reduce cost through transformation.
Which Metrics Are You Using to Measure Customer Satisfaction?
Knowing why customers are contacting a business is, as we’ve seen, a fundamental first step. Aside from establishing your contact strategy though, data can also help unlock what customers really think about that business and the customer experience it offers.
It’s clear that the relevance of customer experience (CX) to overall brand perception is greater than ever. For any organization that values actionable customer insights, tracking and measuring a range of brand and customer experience indicators is hugely important. In recent times, that importance has never been more crucial, accelerated by the cost-of-living crisis and the intensity of customer demands.
Despite these shifts, many retailers continue to focus on the traditional data indicators of brand and customer experience to monitor the perception of their brand, products, services, and customer opinion.
In measuring brand and customer experience, the five metrics below are the most typically used:
- Purchase Intent
- Net Promoter Score (NPS)
- Brand Recall
- Preference in Category
- Customer Satisfaction (CSAT)
These are tried and tested approaches and provide a solid foundation to work from. All are fundamental indicators of brand experience, and should be consistently tracked. It’s within the area of customer experience, however, that there are real, strategic opportunities for retailers.
Although NPS and CSAT are the most popular measures in a retailer’s toolkit, they don’t solve every problem and often lack truly actionable customer feedback. One key limitation on both metrics is their ability to truly represent the end-to-end customer experience.
At Webhelp we estimate that, depending on scope and response rates, survey-driven CSAT and NPS data could represent as low as 5%-10% of all customer interactions. For high volume retailers this is still a huge amount of feedback, and relatively indicative of customer experience.
Nevertheless, it means that 90% of customer interaction data is at worst lost, or at the very least is unmined and not used to discover new, potentially transformative customer insights.
How Can You Really Know What Your Customers Think?
With continuing advances in the tools and methods available to analyze unstructured customer data, there is a wealth of insight to be gained from Voice of the Customer (VoC) feedback in particular, which is often left untapped. Yet it’s crucial to exploit it to close the customer journey execution gaps that many are faced with.
Voice of the Customer data – focusing on the needs, wants, expectations and preferences of consumers – can play a key role in helping to personalize customer journeys, and show that businesses genuinely understand their customers, and that they care.
Properly harnessed by retailers and deployed to close this gap, VoC data can drive improvements to both customer experience and the perception of brands and their products.
Why Voice of the Customer Data Can be so Powerful?
Nowadays the sheer volume of online, phone and face-to-face interaction data available far exceeds the amounts generated when VoC was emerging in the mainly-analogue world of the early 1990s.
This is great news when it comes to enhancing the customer experience, but the sheer volume of data available can be daunting. This means that there’s a necessity to work closely with data and analytics experts to properly mine and structure this data, before uncovering the actionable insights that can transform the customer experience.
Unlocking actionable insights is more straightforward when utilizing the right tools, such as Natural Language Processing (NLP), and working with the right people – namely data scientists who are highly experienced in deriving meaning from large volumes of conversational data.
Armed with this VoC data, organizations can then deploy a 3-step ‘Listen, Empower, Engage’ approach to deliver valuable improvements to all aspects of their customer journey:
by mining conversations at scale, retailers can uncover opportunities to improve the customer experience; such as detecting customer journey and process issues that are leading to unnecessary contact by the customer, uncovering product quality issues that otherwise would go unnoticed, or reacting in near real-time to emerging issues or feedback from customers.
by using Natural Language Processing, organizations can spot signals from conversations and link these to the customer experience, creating the environment for a great customer conversation. As a result, customer service teams become more empowered to help customers, to resolve their issues, and to have engaging, relevant conversations that really matter.
by understanding the topics, sentiment, and emotion of the conversations from the customers’ perspective, it’s possible for retailers to deliver proactive, personalized communication strategies – and it’s personalization that takes brands out of the ordinary and to something that genuinely ‘wows’ customers.
Fuelling personalization engines with structured data is a fairly typical, well-used example of this in action. Including VoC data will further enhance the power of personalization to create personal journeys and solutions that show brands genuinely understand their customers, and that they care.
By listening to their customers like never before, challenging themselves to better understand their customers’ needs, and embracing the wealth of data available from their front-line, real-time customer interactions, organizations can close their customer journey execution gaps and deliver a game-changing brand and customer experience.
Don’t forget to download our eBook How to close the customer journey execution gap – when transforming your CX, and find out more about how to turn that data into actionable insights, embed those insights into operational decision making, and deliver game-changing customer experiences.