June 11, 2018 | InBrief

5 keys to making customer insights matter

5 keys to making customer insights matter

As customer behavior and expectations evolve, having a constant pulse on needs and emotions is critical to delivering a valuable experience and creating long-term customer relationships. In the existing digital age and with the abundance of technology, the ability to collect and analyze data to distill key customer insights has never been easier. By customer insight, we mean a piece of data or information that will help your organization make better decisions about or for your customers, like the probability of that customer to repurchase and continue their relationship with you or leave your organization altogether. With new Voice of Customer (VoC) tools and platforms, organizations have more data and capabilities at their fingertips that provide a lot of heavy lifting on this data analysis. But along with greater amounts of data, also comes a sense of urgency (and even panic) about what to do with it. Many organizations fail to see the value of these insights because they:

  1. Take little (or no) action on the insights,
  2. Attempt to “boil the ocean” and gather feedback across all of the organization at once,

  3. Focus on the “wrong” insight,

  4. Make customer insights unapproachable by formalizing the capability,

  5. Build a culture focused on the score rather than the intent.

We see five keys to ensuring that customer insights drive value for the organization.

Key #1: "Operationalize" the insights to empower employees to take action.

To ensure that your employees are actually taking action to improve the customer experience, identify ways to "operationalize" the data and make it contextually relevant in their daily lives. Once the insights have been distilled from the data, consider embedding directly into the systems that employees use when engaging with customers and completing their work. A couple of examples to consider:

  • Embed customer insight data into your CRM system so that sales representatives or account managers (and teams) can actively monitor and manage customers and account planning. By doing this, organizations empower these employees to know if and when to fix a relationship or look to cross-sell.
  • Integrate feedback real-time into agent desktops to provide immediate insights into the current experience, informing contact center agents how a call is going and offer coaching based on real-time customer sentiment analysis, such as whether to speed up, slow down, or escalate the call.

Embedding insights into various activities and technology that an employee already uses will empower them to make the "right" decision in the moment. This provides the best experience for the customer through actionable data in the context that employees already know.

Key #2: Start small and demonstrate value quickly.

Organizations should use the "land and expand" mentality to build an organization-wide capability around customer insights. These organizations will see a higher percentage of success (and faster) by ensuring dedicated focus on a smaller scope and creating a proof-point that can be scaled within the organization. Success breeds interest and engagement, which is critical when introducing new capabilities within an organization. It also allows organizations to experiment, fail faster, iterate, and determine best practices for its operation. Additionally, it limits the amount of potential future state fixes and changes the organization's needs to prioritize and execute early on, building momentum around the ability to make a change, measure, and iterate. The pressures of a transforming digital world require organizations to make changes and prove value quickly.

Key #3: Deliver "the right insight at the right time in the right way".

To help ensure sustainable value is delivered from taking action on customer insights, an organization must be able to deliver the right insight at the right time in the right way. There are two considerations for this:

  • First, deliver the “correct” insight to the employee, not just any customer insight. For example, when customers ask for "self-service" options to answer questions, organizations need to understand if they truly desire that capability or experience, or if they prefer to talk to a human but the existing IVR experience is so painful that they would rather “do it themselves.” Using the results from a CX driver analysis will help prioritize the types of insights (including pain points) that need to be addressed.
  • Second, deliver insights to employees in an engaging way that empowers them to take action. Sending out feedback via a one-off email blast is impersonal (with a lack of  “what’s in it for me” or “what do I do with this” answer) and falls into the Inbox black hole. Consider different mediums or channels to deliver the insights - 1 on 1 meetings, team meetings, lunch and learns, walls, TVs, etc. Get creative in how to deliver the feedback so that it captures the attention of employees and inspires them to do something with it.

Key #4: Make insights more approachable by making it less formal.

A key priority of CX teams is to make customer insights more approachable for non-CX employees by “democratizing” the ability to speak with and collect feedback from customers. When organizations begin their customer insights voyage, they typically work to centralize the research activity within the CX function to gather the insights and distribute to various business lines. However, for groups within the organization that want or could use insights to inform their work, having to work through the CX team can seem cumbersome and overly formal, stopping them from engaging. For example, product (or service) design teams should have a group of customers from which they can gather requirements, test prototypes, and get feedback in near real-time to validate designs. This is not meant to "go around the CX team”, but is seen as an intentional and coordinated way to remove a bottleneck in delivering value to your customers. Also, make the topic approachable by avoiding business buzzwords such as "data dissemination" and "insight-driven". Instead of "reframing the data", the point is to simply have a conversation with customers about what the organization can do better. Having a conversation is a lot less scary than hearing a handful of business terms, and something that anyone in the organization can do -- not only the CX group.

Key #5: Use insights for coaching, not scoring.

Organizations adopting the use of customer insights will embed this data into the performance management of employees. Unfortunately, they often go too far and develop a focus on the score, leading to "score begging" from employees. We've all been in a car dealership getting routine maintenance and getting the "I hope you had a great experience today…Can you please give me all 10's so I don’t get reprimanded?" question. This creates a poor experience in and of itself. There is power when gathering insights that you can tie directly to employees, but only when those insights are used for coaching and broader improvement for the employee. They should not be perceived as a threat to their employment if they don't hit a specific number (especially as there are many things that can influence a score that is outside of the employee's control). However, this leads to another challenge that organizations need to help employees overcome: taking negative feedback personally. Organizations must adopt the mindset that feedback of any kind, including negative, should be used to improve performance, not punish the employee.

The importance of customer listening and insights within an organization cannot be overstated, as it is one of the foundational components of delivering a positive customer experience. This means that one of the primary goals for any CX team is to get its organization to adopt, engage, and use customer insights in their daily work. The best way to accomplish this is by meeting the employees where they need customer insights to ultimately set them up for success. Follow our five rules above, and you're on your way there!

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