Chris Merricks, Director at CX Consultants, considers the needs and wants of customers and asks, are we listening to them?
Organisations use a range of customer metrics to identify the quality of customer experience. Net promoter scoring (NPS), customer effort scoring, and voice of the customer programmes are all designed to inform organisations of the needs and wants of customers. But what do these metrics really tell you, and are you actually listening?
Despite the value of the feedback received from these metrics, the data is often too broad to be of use, with disgruntled customers skewing the data. Customer metrics, while crucial in understanding what is going on in your business, are only as useful as you make them. What’s more, many organisations are collecting piles of irrelevant data from all sources, while ignoring one of the simplest and most powerful sources available: the customer themselves.
Customer service & experience
Customer service and customer experience are often viewed and resourced as separate departments, but this viewpoint is holding many organisations back. These two should not be seen as different departments; as one of the main areas of contact, customer service is a goldmine for customer experience data, allowing you to truly understand what your customers need.
A missed bin collection, for example, is not a positive experience, but direct contact from the customer can deliver a mountain of useful customer data. Understanding what your customers are contacting you for allows you to better respond in future and more effectively respond to their needs. Not only can customer-facing agents streamline their processes to enable more effective customer assistance, but you can also use this data to ensure breakdowns elsewhere in the system – such as bins getting missed – don’t happen again.
By combining customer experience with customer service, you can also improve relationships with people at the point where the customer-provider relationship is often most contentious.
Studies by Dimensional Research found that 72% of consumers feel that being forced to repeatedly explain their problem to service agents is poor customer service. In the same study, 40% of customers said they would recommend others avoid a business after a poor customer service experience. (1) Nobody likes having to call the helpline, but by ensuring agents are equipped with the right knowledge to provide a positive experience, you can mitigate the frustrations of your customers and even turn the situation into a positive one.
When it comes to government services and the public sector, it is often too tempting to ignore customer experience and assume customers have no other options. In the age of social media and the empowered customer, this can be fatal.
Maximising your customer experience
More importantly, maximising your customer experience and satisfaction doesn’t just benefit the customer. There are a number of advantages to you and your organisation, from cost savings by streamlining your customer processes to long-term reputational benefits and customer retention. According to a study by Harvard Business Review, increasing customer retention rates by just 5% can increase profits by 25% to 95%. (2)
Your customers are giving you all the information you need, and it’s up to you to ensure you are listening and using it. By removing the separation between customer services and customer experience, you can begin to identify useful feedback from the source and implement that feedback to improve your service.
However, feedback from customers is useless without the right systems in place to store and analyse it. Understanding the customer experience is crucial, but for the information to be of any use, data management systems need to be configured from the ground up to collect and collate in a way that makes that data useful.
Customer Relationship Management system (CRM)
Selecting and implementing an effective Customer Relationship Management system (CRM) is crucial to collecting this feedback in a usable way. Just having the raw data is no good. An effective CRM organises the feedback in a way that allows it to be used in streamlining and improving the customer experience, with benefits for both your organisation and the customer.
Without a suitable CRM in place, allowing you and your customer-facing agents to analyse and react to feedback, tracking metrics is pointless.
Customer metrics – when combined with an effective CRM – can be a powerful tool in improving your service and the way customers view your brand. Unfortunately, too many CRM systems are not configured for the data organisations are receiving, meaning this feedback is never acted upon.
The right CRM for you will depend on a number of factors. At CX Consultants, we’ve worked with businesses of all shapes and sizes over the years, and we’ve seen first-hand how the wrong CRM can hamstring even the best-intentioned attempts at improving customer experience.
A good CRM should be flexible, designed to allow for future reconfiguration where needed. Scaleability should also be a priority, as your system will need to grow with your business or service.
Overall, your Customer Experience Team should be able to use your CRM system to see this data in an accessible, actionable way, allowing them to utilise it properly and improve the customer experience. Collecting customer data from the source is a powerful way of achieving a better customer experience, as well as all the benefits that come with it.
Your customers are telling you what they need – but are you listening?
Please note: This is a commercial profile
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CX Consultants – improving your customer experience requirements
As Customer Experience Consultants with both client and vendor-side experience, we understand the challenges that both you and your customers can face.
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