Tag Archives: Sentiment Surveys

HBR Study on Employee Engagement

A recent Harvard Business Review (HBR) survey revealed many companies view employee engagement as a key success factor. But less than half of firms tie engagement metrics to customer satisfaction or financial results. Even more disturbing: just 24 percent believed their workforce is highly engaged.

This research underscores what many business leaders know. Many organizations have work to do move from vision to action in the realm of employee engagement.

Another key finding: organizations that make employee engagement a top priority do a better job at measuring its impacts. Those “high prioritizers” comprised 48 percent of the study total. Thirty-eight percent (38%) of respondents were “moderate prioritizers” with 14 as “low prioritizers.”

What Employee Engagement Leaders Do Differently

As the figure below notes, high prioritizers see a stronger relationship between employee engagement and customer satisfaction compared to moderate or low prioritizers. And high prioritizers take concrete action steps to operationalize that knowledge.

Employee engagement links to customer satisfaction

Source:  “The Impact of Employee Engagement on Performance,” Harvard Business Review

According to the study, brands that prioritize employee engagement showed some similar characteristics. Those include:

  • Precise internal surveys: Engagement leaders go beyond generic approaches to measuring employee satisfaction. They craft internal surveys that include direct questions about employee experiences. Detailed survey analysis is another hallmark of high engagement companies. They sift through the results to identify latent employee dissatisfaction. Then, senior leadership uses survey results to shape business directions.
  • Aligned operational goals: Leaders do not take a “set it and forget it” approach to strategy. Instead, they use strategy as a foundation for operational and individual goals—at every organizational layer. Top leaders establish core goals. Middle managers create specific, tangible objectives for employees to tie their performance to business objectives. Employees receive the resources they need to success and remain accountable for their personal goals.

Engagement leaders also link employee engagement to customer feedback and satisfaction surveys. They also have strong recognition programs, which link employee performance to customer happiness and business results.

Creating an Engagement Culture

As the HBR study reveals, effective internal and external surveys are keys to fostering an engagement culture. Within the company, engagement leaders avoid packaged surveys and tailor data collection to specific needs within their environment. In addition, they look for meaning behind the metrics and identify latent pockets of employee dissatisfaction. They also craft external surveys to collect valid insight on customer perceptions and link results to individual performance.

Firms seeking to excel at employee engagement need to heighten focus in these areas:

  • Surveys: Leaders need to move beyond annual customer and employee surveys. They also need rapid results analysis to make solid business decisions based on feedback. Survey tools that empower both closed-ended and free-form input, along with real-time results analysis, are vital.
  • Employee experience compliance: Survey results can also provide a clear picture of how well employees perform against brand standards. Advanced experience compliance solutions offer real-time insight on each customer interaction with front-employees. These tools allow brands to take immediate action when customer dissatisfaction arises and provide employees resources and knowledge they need to portray the brand.

Engaged employees are far better brand ambassadors—and this has a major impact on customer perceptions. As a recent Forbes article explained, “employees must not only be plausible representatives of your brand’s key attributes, but they must exude the company brand.” Top-to-bottom engagement and authentically listening to external and internal feedback are paths to brand alignment.

The Engagement Imperative

Business leaders now know that having an engaged workforce isn’t a good idea–it’s a strategic imperative. Enterprises must keep a pulse on customer and employee sentiment and have real-time insight into brand expression to thrive in today’s customer-driven world.

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Authoritative research has validated that employee engagement affects customer satisfaction and financial performance. Is your brand taking steps to operationalize this truth? We would love to learn from your experience:

  • Do you have an advanced process for collecting, measuring, and acting on employee feedback?
  • How do you tie customer post-interaction survey results to employee performance?
  • What performance metrics do you use to empower your employees to align with brand mandates?

Add a comment or ask a question in the space below. We welcome your input and insights.

great customer experience

What Makes a Great Customer Experience?

Today’s customers have unprecedented access to information. This empowers customers to make choices and shift loyalties rapidly. Business leaders are responding by intensifying their focus on delivering superior customer experiences.

However, many brands are still in catch-up mode. Customers often encounter frustrating situations—such as being routed from agent to agent when they contact a call center. Many companies do not achieve the goal of first call resolution (FCR). However, 54 percent of U.S. call centers now track this metric, according to studies from Saddletree Research.

The takeaway: the desire for improved experiences—by customers and brand leaders alike—is not a universal reality.

As brands make strides to improve customer engagement, they need to know qualities of a great customer experience. They also need to know how to measure the customer experiences their front-line team delivers. With the right analytic approach, brands can cultivate a continuous improvement culture, which adapts to shifting customer trends.

What Makes a Great Customer Experience

Consumer research from several sources has revealed a very distinct trend. Today’s customers want low-effort experiences.

  • A survey of 97,000 customer revealed that exceeding customer expectations is not always enough to retain customers. Instead, customers are more likely to remain loyal to brands that require minimal effort when engaging with them. Yet many brands are not delivering the low-effort, multichannel experiences customers desire. (Corporate Executive Board).
  • A U.S. study of 27,000 customers across 14 industries validated that high-quality, low-effort experiences deliver positive business results. Positive experiences correlated to increases in revenue growth and customer satisfaction. (McKinsey)
  • A consumer study showed that brands who make purchase decision journeys easier for customers were 86 percent more likely to motivate consumers to buy. Moreover, these brands earned higher repurchase rates and were more than 115 percent more likely to be recommended by consumers than brands with more complex purchase journeys. (Customer Experience Board)

Top performers make sure they are accessible on the channels customers prefer. Often, consumers use multiple channels in their buying journey—from research, through down select, and purchase.

Companies need to eliminate information silos so that every front-line representative—from the contact center to a branch location—has up-to-date detail on customer interactions. Streamlining systems can also eliminate the common problem of asking customers to repeat or reenter information multiple times—a major source of customer irritation.

How to Know if You are Delivering Quality Customer Experiences

The best way to know if you are making your customers happy is to ask them. You need to adopt a real-time survey approach to capture customer feedback when it matters most—immediately after a customer interacts with your brand. This practice gives you fresh, honest insight on how your team is performing.

Here are few things to consider when upgrading your survey program:

Multichannel delivery

You can administer your survey program across multiple channels for the widest possible customer reach. By offering a mix of contact by phone, text, email, and web, you can also demonstrate to your accessibility to your customers.

Survey Design

Today, customers may encounter multiple surveys per week—as many websites ask for feedback from every visitor. That means you are likely to get more responses to a shorter survey.

If you use closed-ended questions—such as multiple choice—you must take care not to influences the questions with your response set. Also, if you offer more positive options than negative, you may force customers to respond positively—even if the response doesn’t match their true feelings. You must also include a neutral or not applicable choice with most questions.

Open-ended feedback:

Many companies today have recognized the limitations of closed-ended surveys. They are migrating to open-ended formats, including collection of customer verbatims. The benefit: open-ended questions provide a more accurate gauge of customer sentiment.

Companies can gain even deeper insights by employing human sentiment analysis. With this approach, you can evaluate these subtle communications nuances that reveal customers’ true feelings and perceptions.

You also need capabilities for on-the-spot analysis of customer feedback. Gone are the days when reviewing survey data at periodic intervals is enough to feel confident that your organization is delivering quality customer experiences.

Delivering Next-Generation Customer Experiences–Today

Today’s brands are realizing that customer experience is not a wish list item for the future. It is a here-and-now imperative that requires focus and investment. Streamlining operations to provide the simplicity is key, along with capturing ongoing customer feedback to benchmark improvements.

Optimizing customer experiences is fast becoming a clear differentiator in an intensely competitive landscape. This is making advanced survey collection technology a business necessity for 2015 and beyond.

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We always welcome reader comments and insights. Please share your thoughts on these questions, or add your own ideas:

  • Do you agree that low-effort experiences are a key driver of customer satisfaction?
  • Has your organization taken steps to allow customers to engage with you across multiple channels?
  • Are you one of the many organizations focused on upgrading survey approaches in 2015?

We look forward to your input.

 

 

 

employee engagement

Why Brands Need Strong Employee Enagement

The start of every new year unleashes a flood of lists and predictions for the 12 months ahead. And as 2015 gets underway, many brands are well aware that the time to take action to improve customer experiences is now.

While buzz about big data and customer journeys abounds, some thought leaders are calling attention to another much-needed area of focus: employee engagement.

In fact, customer experience industry expert Bruce Temkin, CEO of the Temkin Group has dubbed 2015 “The Year of the Employee.” Temkin believes companies will recognize a need for internal changes as they intensify attention on customer experience. That recognition will heighten focus on employees. In his 2015 trends list, he predicts that companies will launch culture shifts, accelerate customer experience training to employees, and involve HR to reach out to employees.

If customer experience is a priority for your brand, you need to boost employee engagement as well. 2015 can be the year when your brand cultivates stronger internal engagement.

Key Employee Engagement Trends

In the past, some management teams relied on attrition and retention statistics alone to gauge employee satisfaction. However, those metrics may not tell a full story. They can tell you which employees may have been dissatisfied or needed growth opportunities—after the fact.

Ultimately, you need to get a pulse on employee perceptions within your own environment. But here is the surprising big picture: just 30 percent of American workers are engaged at work, according to research from Gallup. That suggests many brands have work ahead to fortify employee engagement.

There’s a strong potential upside to tackling this task. Analysis from the Workplace Research Foundation reveals that successful employee engagement programs can grow profits by $2,400 per employee—annually.

Studies also provide insight on what fosters high engagement:

  • Clear values: Employees who work for organizations with “known and understood” values are 51 percent more likely to be fully engaged at work than those who feel their organization does not have clear values (Modern Survey)
  • Effective leadership: In organizations with leaders are perceived as effective, 72 percent of employees say they are highly engaged (Towers Watson)

Here’s another need-to-know metric: organizations which motivate employees through a shared mission and set of values are nine times more likely to earn high satisfaction ratings from customers, according to research from LRN.

How Can Your Brand Strengthen Employee Engagement?

After understanding large-scale trends, you need to take relevant actions in your own environment. You need to know how your organization sizes up against the norm. Another must-do: you need to pay special attention to your front-line team, since their performance and knowledge has a direct impact on customer perceptions.

Here are three key steps to create an engagement culture:

#1: Capture Employee Sentiment

A survey tool for capturing customer sentiment can also collect data internally. You can secure both structured and open-ended employee feedback for analysis. With this data, you can assess organization-wide trends and drill down to operational levels—by region, branch, or manager. This can quickly highly where any trouble spots are in your environment. You can then prioritize targeted initiatives to foster culture shifts or deliver training wherever needed.

#2: Assess Employee Performance Routinely

In today’s customer-centric world, annual performance evaluation cycles can’t keep pace with continual shifts in customer sentiment. Instead, you need technologies for real-time insight into employee performance. This is especially critical for your front-line teams.

Your survey technology is the best resource for tracking how well employees manage customer interactions. If an customer leaves a low score, that rating indicates that your front-line representative may not have delivered the best possible experience and met your brand mandates. You can set up alerts to let you know immediately when customers register poor survey responses. That insight empowers you to address any employee-related issues on the spot, so that they do not blossom into larger problems.

#3: Provide Ongoing Training and Coaching

Another benefit of real-time survey alerts is that they allow you to deliver training directly to those employees and teams which require it. You can have prepared, automated training available to address typical customer scenarios—and provide them to your employee if a customer survey indicates a need. Alternatively, you can let a manager know that he or she should give focused coaching to and employee.

Moreover, you can identify if a specific team is facing a similar set of customer interaction challenges and provide group training to address those issues. With a focus on continuous learning, you can create a environment that fosters employee growth and helps employees feel more valued.

Meeting the Employee Engagement Mandate

Are improving customer experiences and employee engagement on your 2015 priority list? If so, you need to get an early start on implementing the programs and technologies to develop an engagement culture—which can translate directly into happier customers and stronger financial returns.

You need to have advanced approaches to survey employees, monitor their performance, and provide training to create the necessary culture shifts. Heightened focus on your internal environment can filter out into the world beyond your organization—and have positive effects on customers and your brand reputation.

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We welcome you to share your thoughts on this important topic:

  • Do you believe employee engagement is a key area of focus for 2015?
  • How does your brand keep a pulse on employee sentiment?
  • Do you routinely assess the performance of your front-line team against brand experience standards?

Join the conversation by adding a comment below.

Front-line team

Is Your Front-Line Team Embodying Your Brand?

According to Deloitte research, more than 60 percent of enterprises view the customer experience their contact centers deliver as a competitive differentiator. Yet many companies still must take steps to operationalize this truth—or risk losing customers.

Today, a single sub-par contact center interaction can result in an immediate customer defection. However, consumers are increasingly apt to do much more than just shift brand preferences when their expectations remain unmet. Consumer research reveals that nearly 50% of those who are unhappy with service they receive talk about poor experiences on social media.

The hard reality is that every call that comes into your contact center is a potential gateway to a social media firestorm. Fortunately, you can mitigate this risk and boost customer perceptions of your organization.

Many companies have deployed post-interaction customer surveys. This is a solid step in the right direction. To compete in today’s service-driven environment, brands must move beyond periodic survey reviews. They need up-to-the-minute details on how every front-line team member is performing.

Applying the following four best practices can empower your team  to personify your brand standards:

#1: Track customer-facing team performance against brand experience goals

Although companies have customer experience targets, they do not always track whether their front-line teams achieve those goals. Case in point: a field service operation may expect a representative to make post-visit contact with a customer to ensure his or her expectations were met. To affirm that this contact happened—and to evaluate its effectiveness—companies must pair contact technologies with post-interaction survey solutions.

However, these solutions empower your company to do much more. You can also identify unhappy customers and engage your team’s dissatisfied customer experts and practices to address concerns right away. Prompt action to address customer complaints can prevent viral spread of negative sentiment on social networks.

#2: Measure and respond to individual customer interactions

Service leaders know they cannot rely on periodic reviews of aggregate post-interaction survey data. Instead, you need insight into every interaction by every customer-facing team member—in real time. This empowers you to track every employee’s compliance with your brands customer experience standards.

You can also identify low-quality interactions when they happen. That way, you can remedy the situation promptly. You can deliver automated coaching to employees responsible for sub-par interactions. Also, you can readily detect top performers, determine what they are doing right, and share this knowledge organization-wide.

 #3: Increase brand experience accountability for front-line employees

When you link post-interaction surveys to individual team members, you can determine how well your customer-facing employees uphold your brand experience standards. You can design the right mix of structured and free-form survey questions to learn whether customer experiences reflect your brand promise. As an added benefit, your management team can use customer feedback to determine areas for improvement and assess ongoing survey results to measure performance improvements.

#4: Manage brand experience across the entire organization

Since many organizations have widely-distributed front-line functions, performing multiple levels of analysis is very important. Brands must be able to slice-and-dice survey data to view team performance from multiple perspectives.

The biggest benefit comes when you drill-down and roll-up survey results to assess them from various angles. You can see how each office or branch is performing, along with each region or sub-brand. Moreover, you can assess customers’ reactions to specific products or promotions. This approach empowers you to view the current state of customer experience throughout your customer-facing footprint—no matter the scale or distribution of your enterprise.

In addition, this approach lets you spotlight successful practices in one corner of your organization and disseminate them into other areas of your business. This can foster greater connectedness among your team members and cultivate a true single company sentiment. Inevitably, this will filter out through your customer-facing representatives to your customers—and give your customers the consistent experiences they desire.

Today’s brands must rise to the challenge of delivering brand-affirming interactions at every touch point. The path to achieving this goal is through strategic application of contact management and survey technologies. Together, those powerful tools offer you actionable insight into your front-line team’s performance so that you can empower those employees to embody your brand standards.

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If you have thoughts on how to empower your team to align with your brand standards, we would love to hear from you:

  • Do you routinely survey customers to gain insights on whether their experiences match your brand promise?
  • Do you know how well each front-line employee performs your against brand experience mandates?
  • Can you assess brand experience performance and multiple operational levels?

Feel free to answer one of our questions or offer your own ideas. We look forward to you comments.

Addressing Latent Customer Dissatisfaction

Every time you handle a customer concern, you should know that many of your customers are harboring negative feelings—but not saying a word.

In fact, data from the White House Office of Consumer Affairs validated that there are 26 unhappy customers for each one who registers a formal concern. That means you likely hear from less than 5% of your dissatisfied customers.

Your brand has a significant amount of hidden negative sentiment that needs your attention. If you don’t focus on your the most volatile and vulnerable segment of your customer base—your slightly to moderately dissatisfied customers—the consequences can cause far-reaching damage.

This group of customers can share negative feelings via word-of-mouth and dissuade others from trying out your products or services. Or, one vocal complainer can incite an online groundswell of negative feedback and motivate other unhappy customers to lend their voices.

All it takes is one poor customer experience to put your brand at risk for large-scale defections and a loss of public reputation. As today’s brands angle to provide better customer experiences, focusing on latent customer dissatisfaction is a clear imperative.

Here are four things you need to know to address hidden negative sentiment:

1. Understand that Traditional Feedback Channels May Not Identify All Dissatisfied Customers

How do you know when a customer is unhappy? One obvious way is when a customer posts a concern on a social network or logs an online review. You can also glean insights from real-time analysis of post-interaction surveys.

But all of those scenarios fit into the small minority of complaints you do hear about.

Ironically, research suggests that many latently dissatisfied customers indicate that they are at least somewhat satisfied on quantitative customer surveys. That implies that closed-ended survey formats—with their yes/no and multiple choice response sets—may not tell you all you need to know.

2. Listen to What Your Customers Do Say

A good way to detect more dissatisfied customers is to include open-ended survey questions. Specifically, capturing customer spoken verbatims gives you potential for much deeper insight into perceptions and feelings about your brand.

Many companies are starting to realize the potential power of open-ended survey questions. In a recent study, the Temkin Group determined that brands will be ceasing their over-reliance on multiple choice survey questions and increasing collection of customer verbatims over the next three years..

Of course, collecting data is just a first step. Only analysis can reveal all-important customer insights. And only human sentiment analysis can assess the many nuances of of human communication.

Any customer can leave feedback on an experience or suggestion for improvement that seems positive on the surface. However, listening to their tone, voice volume, and other subtleties can let you know that a customer who speaks good words truly falls into the latent dissatisfaction category.

3. Know the Risks of Customer Defections

Customer sentiment insights can help you clarify which latently dissatisfied customers are at the greatest risk of defection. You can combine sentiment analysis with other customer data—such as spending trends, and engagement metrics—to define characteristics of likely to defect customers.

Using this data, you can construct a unique dissatisfaction-to-defection model for your brand. You can then define customized treatment and resolution strategies for varied customer segments. This approach can help you prioritize actions to mitigate risks of customer churn.

4. Use Customer Insights to Refine Operations and Strategies

Once you can identify latent negative sentiment, you must make good use of this high-value information. You may need to reach out to individual customers with reassuring messages, promotions, and other engagement opportunities to bolster their loyalty.

Alternatively, you may discern larger-scale trends that require your attention. Maybe you’ll find that specific product messages are not aligned with actual customer purchase and use experiences. Maybe you’ll find certain teams or regions are not delivering the best quality customer experiences. You can apply what you learn from your sentiment analysis to define opportunities for improvement or target training and coaching to your front-line teams.

Advancing Your Customer Dissatisfaction Management Practices

2015 promises to be a big year for companies who want to be leaders in the era of the empowered customer. Most brands know they need to deliver better customer experiences or risk losing customers to competitors.

However, you need to take fast action to move beyond generic data collection techniques. You must adopt advanced analytical approaches to identify and manage dissatisfied customers—especially the ones below the radar.

The potential payoff is huge. Organizations who effectively handle customer concerns are more likely to retain and inspire goodwill those customers. And happy customers are always the best advocates for your brand.

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Have insights to share on this topic? We would love to hear from you. Feel free to answer one of our questions or offer your own ideas:

  • Is your brand embracing the trend towards open-ended survey questions?
  • What do you do with the freeform comments and customer verbatims you do collect?
  • How do you apply customer learnings to refine front-line contact approaches?

We look forward to your input.

Sentiment Analysis Can Reveal Silent Complaints

Today’s brands grapple with an ever-increasing proliferation of customer comments online. However, customer experience leaders know that feedback customers provide is only the proverbial “tip of the iceberg” in a sea of customer sentiment.

In a 2014 research study, CX Act revealed that more than half of people do tell others about customer contact experiences. However, the vast majority—85%—share their customer service stories in person. By contrast, just 22% of people post information about customer experiences on social media.

These findings suggest that many dissatisfied customers may not alert your organization about their concerns. Instead, those individuals make silent complaints to friends and family.

What does this mean for your brand?

Your company must anticipate that silent pockets of negative sentiment likely exist in your customer base. You need tools to identify and remedy those hidden concerns before they surface. Customer sentiment surveys are key resources in your quest to identify and manage silent complaints.

Collecting Customer Feedback

Many companies use surveys to collect and measure customer perceptions. Some companies still rely primarily on large-scale annual satisfaction surveys. However, post-interaction surveys—which allow companies to gauge individual customer experiences—are enjoying wide adoption.

Many post-interaction surveys rely heavily on closed-ended questions. These questions—which can solicit “yes/no” or numerical scale responses—certainly have value. However, the do very little to reveal customers’ true feelings about a specific experience or overall brand impression.

For a more well-rounded approach, your brand should include opportunities for customers to leave open-ended feedback. This can take the form of free-form text comments on a written survey. If you use a voice-response survey, you can let your customers leave thoughts in their own words. More and more organizations are recognizing the value of such Voice of the Customer (VoC) input.

Surveys aren’t the only way to receive VoC data. Other VoC sources include focus groups, inbound calls, and social media. However, surveys are highly valued by senior managers. In fact, a study from Maritz Research revealed that executives are far most likely to review VoC data from customers surveys—including transactional, relationship, and benchmarking surveys—than other sources.

VoC data sources used by senior management
Source: Maritz Research, October 2012

 

Recent research from the Temkin Group validates that brands are primed to make investments in VoC. More than 45% of firms plan to increase VoC program spending in the near-term, while just 5% expect to cut VoC spending. In addition, the Temkin study revealed that the vast majority of enterprises see positive results from their VoC efforts. However, most firms are not taking action or making business changes based on the insights they gain from VoC.

Discerning Meaning behind the Metrics

At present, many enterprises are lagging in moving from VoC data collection to action. One reason for this trend may be that companies lack the analysis approaches they need to gain high-value insight from their VoC data.

As companies look for ways to assess volumes of VoC input, computer-based analysis seems like a logical choice. However, service leaders know that raw analysis of words provided in free-form comments has its limitations.

Those companies who use voice surveys have a rich opportunity to gain deep understanding into the minds and feelings of their customers. The only way to achieve these insights is to use human-rated sentiment analysis. Technology tools can evaluate words, but only human beings can discern the true meaning behind customers’ statements.

With human-rated sentiment analysis, you may find that customers who give you good scores or speak good words about your brand may harbor negative feelings. A skilled sentiment analyst has in-depth knowledge of the subtleties of human communication and can evaluate nuances—such as word choice, tone, voice volume, and more—to uncover a speakers’ true feelings.

This approach can help single out individuals who may not overtly complain, but may be inclined to share negative word-of-mouth perceptions about your brand. Once you’ve identified that a person may be making “silent complaints,” you can identify remediation strategies. You may need to reach out to that customer to gain input about their perceptions, offer personalized discounts or incentives, or use other tactics to shift their feelings.

Moving from Collection to Action

If you are one of the many firms who needs to do more with the customer survey data you collect, you are not alone. As brands prioritize their 2015 VoC spending, they need to recognize that a reliance on machine-based analysis of VoC input may not yield the results they need.

Adding human-rated sentiment analysis is essential to gain true insight into customer perceptions. Human sentiment analysts can identify those customers who are likely to make “silent complaints” and empower you to keep those negative feelings out of the public eye. This is a must-do to protect your brand in today’s era of the social, vocal, empowered customer.

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We know that customer experience is a top-of-mind issue for every company today. Share your insights on these and other topics in the space below:

  • Do you have a process for spotting customers who may be harboring hidden negative sentiment about your brand?
  • Are you one of the many companies planning to increase VoC spending in the coming years?
  • How do you plan to move from collecting VoC input to using this high-value data to drive improved customer experiences?

We look forward to hearing from you.

Happy Customers Stay Loyal, Spend More

Most of us intuitively recognize when we receive a great customer experience—or a poor one. But a recent Harvard Business Review (HBR) article tackled the question on every business leaders mind. How does the intangible feeling of customer experience affect revenue?

In the HBR-published study investigators analyzed data from transactional and subscription-based businesses. These two business models have different revenue-generation focuses. A transactional business relies on repeat customers, frequent returns, and amount spent per visit. By contrast, subscription-based businesses count on renewals, cross-selling and up-selling.

Despite their varied approaches to generating revenue, researchers found a direct link between past customer experience and future spend.

  • Transaction-Based Businesses: Research revealed that customers who gave the best experience scores spent 140% more than those who had the poorest experiences.
  • Subscription-Based Businesses: Results demonstrated that those with the poorest experiences were only 43% likely to renew, while those with the best experiences were 74% of remaining members.

Clearly, delivering good customer experiences delivers measurable financial returns.

The Cost of Poor Customer Experience

In the past, some firms argued that customer experience management was an expensive proposition. After all, unhappy customers tend to require more support and return more goods then others. Untangling these difficult situations seems like a waste of energy.

However, dissatisfied customers can damage your ability to retain existing customers and attract new ones. According to the White House office of Consumer Affairs, a single unhappy customer tells an average of nine to 15 people about their poor experience. Also, 13% tell more than 20 people about their dissatisfaction.

Today, your customers are more likely to use the Internet to voice their concerns. According to analysis from Dimensional Research, 45% share negative experiences on social media and 35% post negative online reviews. Moreover, 86% of respondents in the same study said negative online feedback influenced their buying decisions.

The bottom line: a single unhappy customer can drive away tens to hundreds of prospective customers. Multiple that one dissatisfied customer by one hundred or one thousand. Think of all the potential lost revenue.

Do You Know Who Your Unhappy Customers Are?

One way to discern who has had poor customer experiences is to see which customers post negative thoughts on social media or leave bad reviews online. However, by then, the damage is done and salvaging the relationship may be difficult. And others’ impressions have likely been tainted by this negative sentiment.

There is a better way.

Implementing a post-interaction survey program is an imperative for today’s businesses. You can capture immediate feedback to learn if your front-line representative interacted effectively with your customer. If your customer registers a negative feedback score, you can take immediate corrective action. This can include reaching out to the affected customer and providing corrective training or feedback to the front-line employee who delivered the poor experience.

The key is moving from large-scale customer satisfaction trend analysis to real-time alerting of negative survey responses.

Moving from Data Collection to Action

A lot of companies are collecting customer survey data—including free-form text comments. However, many have work to do to move from collection to action.

According to Voice of the Customer (VoC) maturity analysis from the Temkin Group, 41% of surveyed companies merely collect data and 39% perform some analysis. Only 11% have achieved the highest two levels of VoC maturity—and those companies do more with their customer insights, have stronger executive support for customer experience programs, and achieve better business performance overall.

Those aiming to deliver best-in-class customer experiences need to focus on robust, real-time survey analytics.

Putting it All Together

Dated thinking that limited spending on customer experience management is shifting. Now, business leaders know they need systems and processes to help them deliver the levels of service excellence customers expect.

Those that make smart moves sooner—by taking prompt, strategic action to address customer feedback—have an unprecedented opportunity to get ahead of the competition. The rewards will be tangible and financial.

It’s a proven fact: Happier customers = loyal customers = more revenue.

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Please contribute your thoughts on this high-value topic. Answer one of the questions below or add your own ideas:

  • Do you have any evidence—anecdotal or quantifiable—to show how customer experience and financial performance tie together in your company?
  • Are you prepared to move from collecting survey data to in-depth analysis?
  • How do you help mitigate negative customer perceptions before they hit social networks or online review sites?

We look forward to your insights.

Dissatisfied Customers Can Spawn a Media Crisis

In today’s connected world, social media has made every brand vulnerable to a media crisis. A single negative comment by a customer or detractor can quickly go viral and cause deep and lasting reputation damage.

In fact, a recent study indicated that 50% of companies have experienced some type of media crisis, and 80% of companies do see the potential risk of a social media crisis. Moreover, research from Alitmeter has shown that 75% of social media crises could have been diminished or averted if companies had been better prepared to handle them.

What does this mean?

Your company must mitigate the risks of social media disaster by having a plan to combat negative customer sentiment when it surfaces. You need to understand the big picture about how an online crisis can damage your brand and the benefits of strong negative sentiment management. You also need a plan in place to avoid social media disaster due to poor customer sentiment.

An Online Media Crisis Can Damage Your Brand

Avoiding or managing a social sentiment crisis is an imperative for today’s brands. Recent research from Burson-Marsteller shows that companies that experienced a crisis experienced negative impacts across many dimensions. For example:

  • 32% experienced a revenue drop
  • 24% experienced cutbacks or layoffs
  • 18% experienced a reputation damage
  • 12% experienced heightened social media scrutiny

Moreover, academic research underscores that a brand’s response to a crisis has a measurable impact on financial results. A Stanford graduate school study revealed that companies that take responsibility for negative issues outperform those who do not by 15% to 19%.

These statistics reinforce that addressing negative sentiment isn’t just a nice idea. It’s a strategic imperative.

The good news is that managing a negative situation well can create reputation uplift. If negative sentiment surfaces, your brand can work to fortify relationships with affected customers. You can take targeted steps to reach out to your customers behind-the-scenes—via the communications channels they use to reach you—and help transform a negative experience into a positive one. By responding with authenticity and compassion online, you can demonstrate a commitment to positive customer experiences and potentially grow your engaged audience.

Keeping Negative Sentiment Out of the Public Eye

It’s a well-known fact that customers are more likely to share poor experiences than positive ones. However, you can mitigate the dissemination of word-of-mouth negative sentiment by making better use of the tools you likely already have—customer surveys.

Many brands have a sentiment survey mechanism in place for customer feedback capture after every interaction. Today’s customers can provide immediate feedback via phone, text, web, or email. However, far too many brands are still aggregating sentiment data at periodic levels for management review. By the time those reviews happen, brand damage may have already occurred and global customer sentiment may have shifted in a new direction.

The only way to get an accurate read on customer perceptions is via real-time customer survey analysis. Advanced technology tools can give you an up-to-the minute pulse on customer sentiment trends. Moreover, you can also get alerts to notify you when a customer has left a poor survey response as soon as it occurs. That gives you a much better chance of taking corrective steps to prevent negative perceptions from leaking out on to the social web.

Although every scenario is different, your negative sentiment resolution plan should include an expectation that you will need to reach out to dissatisfied customers several times to restore their trust. Results from the Edelman Trust Barometer study shows that 64% of  people need to receive a reassuring message three to five times to overcome skepticism.

This means that you need technology that lets you keep data on centralized customer interactions with your at-risk customers. That way, every front line employee—from the contact center to a physical location—can have the latest information on customer interactions.

Preparing for the Inevitable

It’s easy to avoid thinking about dissatisfied customers and potential media crises. But smart companies know that dealing with this difficult territory is vital to brand protection. In the past, nearly all business communications were one way, which gave brands more message control. Today’s customers and social influencers can participate in shaping, reinforcing, or even undermining your messages.

Research from Burson-Marsteller shows that the most crisis-ready companies have a rock-solid planning approach. Fifty-nine percent evaluate multiple scenarios that could trigger a crisis, while 57% have pre-established mitigation steps and 53% percent conduct proactive issue monitoring. By taking a strategic approach to evaluating and acting on negative customer sentiment, you can be one of the winners in this difficult terrain.

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Engage with Us

If you have experience or insight in dissatisfied customer and social negative sentiment management we would love to hear from you:

  • Has your brand experienced any threats or crises due to online sharing of negative customer sentiment?
  • Do you have a plan to handle negative customer perceptions when they surface?
  • How do you deliver multiple follow-up messages to customers to help rebuild their confidence in your brand after a poor experience?

Share your thoughts in the space below. We look forward to connecting with you.

What Makes Customers Happy?

Retaining Customers in Today’s “Switching Economy”

Recent consumer research from Accenture revealed that customers are increasingly frustrated by the perceived poor levels of service they receive.

In 2013, the consulting firm’s annual Global Consumer Pulse Survey revealed that 51 percent of U.S. consumers switched service providers due to poor customer service experiences. That number jumped 5 percent from 2012. These compelling numbers motivated Accenture to label the current consumer environment “The Switching Economy.”

This research study affirmed that B2C companies must take action to improve customer experiences and stop churn—right now. Many consumer brands have taken a good first step and implemented post-interaction surveys. However, to maximize the value of these surveys, brands must accelerate analysis and have routines in place to respond to dips in customer satisfaction as soon as they occur.

Six Things that Make Customers Unhappy

As the Accenture study reports, there are several things, which consistently upset customers and trigger defections. Specifically, consumers get frustrated by:

  1. Contacting a company multiple times to address the same issue (91%)
  2. Being put on hold for lengthy periods (90%)
  3. Needing to repeat their questions or concerns to more than one representative (89%)
  4. Perceiving that a company does not make it easy to do business with them (85%)
  5. Noticing a difference between a company’s marketing promises and delivered products, services, or experiences (84%)
  6. Having inconsistent experiences across various channels (58%)

Moreover, 81 percent of respondents did report that companies could have done something different to retain their loyalty. Understanding these unwelcome behaviors and taking steps to remedy them can put you on a good path to improving customer experiences and keeping customers loyal.

However, best-in-class service providers know that customer satisfaction trends are in constant flux. You also need to survey customers regularly and act on their responses to keep tabs on the current state of the customer experiences your brand is delivering. Post-interaction surveys are the path to deeper insight.

Customer Surveys: Beyond the Fabled NPS Score

In recent years, the “Net Promoter Score,” widely known as NPS, has earned widespread hype as the ultimate customer satisfaction metric. NPS asks respondents use a one to 10 scale to answer a single question: “”How likely is it that you will recommend our company to a friend or colleague?”

However, analyst firm, Forrester has noted that there are several issues with relying on NPS alone:

  • Cultural Variances: The use of a one to 10 scale does not translate across all cultures. This makes NPS scoring less valid for firms with international or diverse customer bases.
  • Limited Motivator: Companies may find it challenging to motivate employees to raise NPS scores.
  • Questionable Correlation: Although NPS is supposed to tie to customer referrals or renewals, limited quantitative evidence exists to support this fact.

Despite its shortcomings, NPS can be a valid customer satisfaction measure, when coupled with other customer feedback. Forrester recommends adding Voice of the Customer (VoC) sentiment input to NPS data collection for robust, actionable insights into customers’ perceptions.

Adding Open-Ended Feedback for Honest Customer Insights

Today’s customer experience leaders know that quantitative surveys and metrics are just one source of information about customers. To understand customer’s true feeling about your business, you need to use open-ended sentiment survey questions to solicit high-value VoC feedback. With open-ended questions, you gain customers spoken-word perceptions, which give you context beyond customer satisfaction statistics.

However, you need to recognize the immense worth of customer’s open-ended comments. While some companies rely on computer-based analysis to review customer comments, this approach is shortsighted. Machine-based solutions can only analyze the words your customers speak—but leave a wealth of information unevaluated.

Speech analysis experts know you need to study communication nuances—including tone, word choice, volume, inflections, and more—to gain complete understanding of customers’ true sentiment. Sometimes, you may find that customers who speak affirming words about your company may be harboring hidden negative sentiment. The only way to uncover customers’ true feelings is through human sentiment that goes beyond machine-based survey evaluations.

Achieving Coordinated Following Up

As Accenture’s research proves, having a bad experience can prompt your customers to defect to competitors. Today, however, customers are also likely to share their perceptions on social media—and take their bad feelings public. In fact, consumer research revealed that 95 percent of customers who have had a poor experience tell someone about it, and are 45 percent share negative customer experiences on social media.

What does that mean? You need to move beyond aggregate reviews of NPS data and institute real-time reviews of post-interaction survey data. You also need plans and resources for coordinated follow up with unhappy customers before they defect or spread the word about their poor perceptions on social networks.

As a result, you need a centralized system that provides up-to-date statuses on all customer contacts to front-line employees across the enterprise. With the right tools, you can address customer questions and issues promptly and tackle some of the six things that often prompt customer concerns.

Scoring a “Thumbs Up” from Your Customers

In today’s customer-driven world, listening to customers and taking proactive steps to address customer feedback is an imperative. Focusing on customer satisfaction can help retain customers and solidify your revenues.

Those who don’t are primed to lose—and lose big. Accenture estimates that a potential $1.3 billion dollars in revenue will be in play due to customer’s shifting loyalties.

The time to implement tools and processes to capture, analyze, and act on customer feedback is now. You need to move beyond the comfort zone of periodic review of aggregate customer satisfaction scores and jump into the new world of real-time customer survey analysis.

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Engage with Us

If you are a service provider, we would love to learn more about your real-world experiences:

  • What do you see as the biggest challenges to keeping customers loyal in today’s switching economy?
  • How has your company’s approach to customer survey dissemination and analysis changed?
  • What are you doing to protect your brand in the era of the social customer?

We look forward to hearing from you.