In a world where customers are bombarded daily by digital information, sales pitches and surveys, CX professionals need new approaches for hearing the voice of the customer. Here’s one.
The number one rule in customer experience (CX) is to meet your customers where they live. Understand their preferences, their challenges. Know what gets their goat. As CX practitioners, we also should know the way, or ways, our customers prefer to communicate with us. Are we giving them their preferred option? Or are we simply using the channels that suit us best?
At the technology B2B company for which I work, formal surveys sent to our customers by email are a mainstay of our CX program. By the same token, we acknowledge that the survey environment has changed drastically in recent years. Digital surveys are so easy for companies to send out that people are overloaded with them—and thus, our response rate has decreased over the years as customers are more likely to ignore them when the invitation arrives via email or as a pop-up after an online transaction. To ensure we are receiving quality feedback, we also frequently conduct face-to-face or telephone interviews with our customers, all the while understanding that these formal opportunities are only the start of assessing the customer’s journey with us.
Why? Because these feedback sessions are always initiated by us, the brand. How often are we giving customers the opportunity to initiate feedback with us, to ‘raise their hand’ whenever they want to make a comment? That question was the impetus for a valuable new tool in our CX toolkit. I’ve mentioned it before in a previous column on effective survey approaches, but it’s bringing such success to us at Verint—the customer engagement company that specializes in helping contact centers leverage the voice of the customer to improve customer experience—and to our customers, that I think it’s worth additional air time this month.
How customer-initiated feedback works
When a customer interacts with a company’s website or mobile app, it is common practice today for the company to initiate a pop-up or pop-under survey card requesting feedback from the customer on the experience. The tool has its value, but I’ve heard some CX practitioners compare it to a waiter who is constantly interrupting your dinner at a nice restaurant.
Digital feedback management solutions offer a less intrusive approach. The customer can click an icon or a feedback tab at any time to get a brief form for delivering feedback, whether it’s to report a website problem, register a complaint, request more information or share kudos for a delightful customer service experience. Rather than the ‘brand-initiated feedback’ gathered through online surveys, digital feedback management opens the door for ‘customer-initiated feedback’ through digital channels.
The wins are many
Customer-initiated feedback sheds light a customer’s digital journey that post-experience surveys might not capture. We see the customer’s responses to those steps in the moment, when emotions are running high. While a customer might immediately fire off a complaint via digital feedback management, he or she might forget about it, or decide not to report it once the formal customer satisfaction survey arrives—and once heads have had a chance to cool.
Customers can immediately report any bugs or technical glitches that keep your sites from performing optimally. And because organizations can now get this information real-time, they can automatically create an alert or a ticket for the e-commerce team or the marketing team to fix the problem. In the past, online survey reports of website technical problems might have languished for days or weeks in the face of competing priorities.
For example, when a leading health insurer launched digital feedback management pages on its website, streaming feedback provided fast visibility into top customer issues and enabled the company to fix them promptly. Within two weeks, the company’s actions had reduced negative comments to almost zero.
Closing the loop
Today, digital feedback management goes beyond customer reports on website experiences. One rental car company has a feedback tab on its mobile app to gain insight into customer experiences at branch locations. A major retailer has begun to rely on digital feedback management to evolve its product portfolio. And contact centers are including feedback links within online chat sessions with customers. The common thread among all these examples is that comments are either extremely positive or very negative—there are few lukewarm responses in the world of customer-initiated feedback. For companies that are listening to the voice of the customer, it can be very enlightening.
In another example, one of America’s largest banks made valuable changes through digital feedback management. The bank classified customer-initiated comments into 25+ categories, including issues with bill payments, money transfers and new account applications. Issues in categories that were considered controllable got immediate resolution. Several months later, the bank saw online support ticket volume fall by more than 10 percent. In a high-volume customer service environment, this added up to over 10,000 fewer support tickets per month—a monthly cost savings of nearly half a million dollars. It’s a good example of how a company not only got new data about customer behavior but also acted on it to achieve fast results.
The user experience is a CX responsibility
Our customers frequently use our website as a channel for reporting their feedback on customer service. Rather than digging through the website to find the number or the link they need, they can simply go to the main page and click on the feedback icon. In this way, we always give the customer the ability to comment on something that might not be listed as a specific feedback topic.
While digital feedback management originated as a design tool for improving the user experience on a website or mobile app, its value to the overall customer experience became quickly apparent. At our company, the digital feedback management channel typically delivers in equal parts our customers’ comments about the website’s functionality and comments about broader issues such as customer service or requests for more information. Even if the comments were limited only to how the website or mobile apps perform, it’s the wise CX professional who understands that the user experience is a crucial part of the overall customer experience in today’s digital world. Customers deserve every tool at our disposal to make their digital experience great.
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