Research tells us that most companies who spend more time listening and responding to customer feedback grow faster than companies that don’t. However, drawing a line to connect actions based on customer feedback to financial performance is a significant challenge.
In the broadest sense CX data refers to data and information an organisation collects about its customers. It can include customer feedback from surveys and focus groups, transactional data from past purchases and billing, or it can be information gathered from customer complaints and enquiries.
A recent research report from Gartner shows a strong correlation between companies with positive revenue growth collecting more customer experience data than nongrowth companies. Jessica Ekholm, research vice president at Gartner says, “There is a clear trend among growing companies to actively collect CX data using a wide variety of tools such as surveys, usability testing, focus groups and real-time analytics.”
It’s not the collection of CX data that leads to the growth, according to Rebecca Wilson, director of human experience, at Sprout Research, it’s how that data is used to create insights that lead to change and innovations, thereby adding value. She says, “There’s no doubt that customer feedback and CX data can offer significant insights into what you need to change in terms of product offerings and services that better meet the needs or expectations of your customers. Whether this leads to revenue growth depends on the quality of the insights and the actions those insights generate and whether they’re profitable for the company to enact.”
She adds, “If your organsiation’s strategy is to become more obsessed about you customer, one of the ways of achieving this is certainly to know more about your customer. It’s critical to understand though that this is not the only thing you need to be more successful from a revenue or growth point of view. For example, disseminating these insights across the business is just as critical”.
Too many surveys not enough insights
As the Gartner research highlights customer surveys remain the most popular method for collecting CX data and customer feedback. “Despite their widespread use, customer surveys have some flaws that limit their ability to collect quality CX data,” said Ms. Ekholm.
Survey data is only truly helpful when it’s accurate and truly represents the sentiment of your customers. Unfortunately, consumers are increasingly experiencing “survey fatigue”. This means, according to Gartner, response rates fall with each subsequent survey customers are asked to complete, or they will abandon surveys half-way through responding, or their responses are written in haste or provide ambiguous information.
Hence, a lot of the information provided by surveys is inaccurate and therefore, either misleading or useless. And even if it’s accurate, but only 10% of your customers have filled it out – how representative are the results? It then becomes critical, Wilson adds, to have a robust and disciplined insights strategy, rather than adhoc, misaligned research efforts that add little value.
CX Data and real-time analytics
Getting people to provide feedback and complete surveys is a significant challenge. The level of reluctance to provide feedback varies from industry to industry according to research by CustomerThermometer. To overcome this problem, brands are increasingly relying on the transactional data they collect from their customers and supplementing it with the data they receive from customer feedback surveys.
According to the Gartner research, artificial intelligence (AI) is helping companies gather real-time data about customers’ current issues and experiences. This data is being used to predict the customer’s next move, proactively recommending features, products or promotions to improve the customer journey.
Collecting CX data is one thing, but without insights it’s effectively useless. Wilson warns, “A lot of companies say they have insights about their customers while in fact they may have a lot of observations, information and data but very little real insight.”
She adds, “You also need to focus on insights that can be acted on. There is no point collecting information about customer sentiment if you don’t have the capacity or capability to act on them.”
What is undeniable is that when customers have a better experience, they stay with a brand longer, buy more from that brand and recommend that brand. Becoming a customer obsessed organisation is the long game and is dependent on mastering a range of business compentencies, including customer understanding.