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we’ve landed at eTail West 2015

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Created by retailers for retailers, eTail West has one goal in mind. Transform retail. Together.

It’s a one-stop shop for eCommerce and multi-channel retail innovators that covers topics like digital engagement, mobile, customer acquisition and retail’s hottest topics. Surrounding yourself with the industry’s brightest minds is a mantra we fully subscribe to and it’s one of the reasons we’ve sponsored this powerhouse event for years.

As an official sponsor of eTail West, OpinionLab will be starting conversations with retail innovators and showing off our customer listening platform to the masses. That’s right, we’ve launched a new platform (read all about it here) and we’re thrilled to show off the new features and functionality at eTail West. With this release, we’ve focused our innovation on 3 key areas: action, engagement and accessibility. These 3 crucial areas are often weak spots of customer experience programs, but we’ve turned them into core strengths of our updated platform.

You’ll see a heavy OpinionLab presence at the event, whether on the tradeshow floor at Booth #515, networking events or powering the official speaker and event feedback platform. You can also follow us on Twitter and see what we see at the event. Including the palm trees.

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Our Winter Release Extends our Track Record of VoC innovation

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From its inception through to the present day, OpinionLab has always put a high value on innovation. Innovation is central to our value proposition and is integral to our business culture. We hire innovative minds and we err on the side of innovation with every product decision we make. When we call ourselves the leader in capturing actionable customer experience insights that drive smarter business decisions, we can be confident in that claim, because our track record of innovation backs it up.

Being a leader doesn’t mean resting on our laurels–far from it. Instead, being a leader means constantly innovating and pushing to stay at the forefront of an increasingly crowded ecosystem of VoC vendors.

The focal point of our innovation has always been our platform. That’s why I’m so excited about the features we’re unveiling for our Winter Release. These features extend our commitment to innovation, which goes back more than a decade. With this release, we’re focusing our innovation on 3 key areas: action, engagement, and accessibility. These 3 crucial areas are often weak spots of customer experience programs, but we’ve turned them into core strengths of our updated platform.

We drive value against these three key areas with a bevy of innovative new tools, which build on our core continuous listening engine and generate real-time insights from engaged customers, layered with context to drive action at key moments of truth. Among the new tools are:

  • Theme Reporting: Sifts through vast amounts of unstructured data, identifies relevant themes, and allows the user to drill-down to actionable, context-rich nuggets of insight.
  • Comment Mosaic: Creates a dynamic and real-time matrix of segmented feedback snapshots, raising organizational awareness and visibility and aligning teams and executives.
  • Real-Time Peer Benchmarks: Provides the industry’s most comprehensive peer benchmarking. Brands can instantly compare task-specific performance real-time data from peers to identify performance gaps and leadership positions.

All of these new insight tools are built on a redesigned back-end framework, which increases the flexibility, scalability, and security of our platform, and allows for even more accelerated innovation in the future. I’ll have more about that foundational evolution in a future post.

Over the past few months, these features have been active in private beta for a select number of our customers. The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, and our customers have saluted our continuing innovation and our increased focus on actionability. OpinionLab customers can expect to see these features turned on in their accounts over the next several weeks.

If you’ve been considering OpinionLab and want to learn more about our latest innovations, please get in touch and we would be happy to walk you through the latest features of our platform. We’re sure you will love them!

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The Shopping Destination of the Future: The Mall

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American shopping malls are iconic institutions, born in the 50s and the quintessential centerpieces of teenage culture in the 80s. Who can think back to the mall madness of the 80s without conjuring up images of Spicoli, Stacy, Linda and the rest of the characters in Fast Times At Ridgemont High who didn’t just sling pizza, but came of age in the food courts and maze-like walkways of their local mall?

For decades, the mall was a staple of popular culture that represented suburban consumerism in its most basic form. The plotline for today’s retail experience is vastly different. Prognosticators have been proclaiming the death of the shopping mall ever since people began seriously shopping online, and web sites like Deadmalls.com have sprouted up to document the demise of retail centers from South Dakota to Mississippi. It’s a good story to tell, but does it reflect reality? Are yesterday’s malls destined to wither as e-Commerce and mobile commerce move up the retail bell curve? Or, is their room for both in tomorrow’s retail landscape?

Want to know what OpinionLab’s predictions? Read our latest article published in Retail Touchpoints here.

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Consumers Speak Out About Customer Experiences on Cyber Monday 2014

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With over $2 billion in ecommerce transactions, Cyber Monday 2014 marked the single heaviest day of online spending in U.S. history. But we’re not just talking the pure dollars and cents that come from clicking the “buy now” button. To OpinionLab and the customer-centric brands we support it was $2 billion in opportunities to deliver outstanding customer experiences, from the ease of purchase, search functionalities, call center interactions, and even post-sale experiences such as packaging and delivery.

At OpinionLab, comment card submissions were up 50% compared to a normal day, and we collected roughly 60,000 submissions on Cyber Monday alone. From Thanksgiving through December 1, we received 16.5% more submissions than in 2013. Notably, consumers submitted 67% more free-form comments than they did last year. Let that fact sink in for just a moment and give credit to customer-centric brands that are listening to their customers in the moment of real experiences.

The record online sales and volume of feedback are both testaments to the rising importance of customer experience, which Gartner deems the “marketing leaders’ next battlefield”. The differences between online and offline customer experience seem to have played a crucial role in consumer behavior this holiday season. While Cyber Monday saw 17% year-over-year growth, The New York Times reports that in-store Black Friday sales actually declined 11%.

Did shoppers lose some of their appetite for long lines, crowded stores and the mad rush for goods? Did advancements in online shopping technology and the convenience of shopping from home give the digital face of omnichannel a serious bump? From retailer to retailer, what specific factors were behind the successes and failures in customer experience?

It’s now common knowledge that the only way to answer such questions is to listen to consumers. As this holiday season reaffirmed, shoppers are more than willing to give their two cents – especially when retailers allow them to share open-ended feedback in the moment and on their own terms.

During peak hours of the holiday shopping weekend, OpinionLab received approximately 3,300 comments per hour. The retailers monitoring this data had a pulse on their customer experience, and compared to 2013, many more used OpinionLab Alerts to automatically distribute comments to departments that could act on the feedback. The volume of Alerts was up 13% this year, and we saw more unique users taking advantage of them. The Alert users were uniquely empowered to make improvements, address grievances and preserve a consistent customer experience in real-time.

Just as importantly, feedback from this critical shopping weekend offered insights that will drive long-term strategy and differentiation. When Gartner surveyed 200 marketing leaders for its report, “Customer Experience Emerges as the Marketers’ Next Battlefield”, 89% said they expect their companies to compete primarily on the basis of the customer experience by 2017. Indeed, Gartner predicts that 50% of consumer product investments will be redirected to customer experience innovations by that year.

Marketers need a reliable way to monitor customer experience and uncover innovations, changes and new offerings that could differentiate their brand on the battlefield. If Cyber Monday is any indication, consumers can be willing partners in improving their own experience. They want to be heard, and they want an easy mechanism to voice their opinions. Brands that are willing to listen to their consumers will always find a happier customer in the long run.

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COI release: it’s an indicator of customer experience excellence

We’re very excited to announce the release of our latest Customer Opinion Index (COI) Report. This report marks the one-year anniversary of the release of the very first COI Report–an important milestone for the COI, as it continues to be embraced as the foremost indicator of customer experience excellence among the world’s most customer-centric brands.

For those of you who are new to the metric, the COI is OpinionLab’s proprietary measure of customer experience performance in a multi-channel setting. Comprising millions of pieces of context-rich customer feedback and backed by a patented Comment Card methodology that is over 15 years old, the COI is utilized by brands like Walmart, Bank of America, Ford, and Wyndham as part of programs that continuously measure, manage, and optimize the customer experience. When paired with a real-time intervention strategy, the COI framework can help organizations drive fundamental change by transforming processes and creating new best practices that foster greater customer loyalty.

The release of this report comes at an important time in the year, as brands are beginning to rollout their plans for Holiday 2014. This edition of the COI Report presents a temperature check for how brands are doing at delighting their customers as we enter the most critical shopping season of the year. It also highlights best practices that customer experience leaders were using to drive their COI scores higher over the summer months.

We invite you to download the report and read the findings by clicking here. As always, we invite you to share any and all feedback with us. We’re always listening, and we look forward to the conversation!

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We’ve made the Inc 5000 list…again!

 

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In the SaaS world, momentum is king. And there’s no better indicator of momentum than placing on the Inc. 5000 list, which celebrates and ranks the 5,000 fastest growing private companies in the United States.

We’re incredibly excited to have placed on that list for the second year running. Clocking in with an impressive 3-year growth rate of 66%, OpinionLab is constantly expanding our pool of human capital to better service those awesome, customer-centric brands we continue to sign.

2014 is on pace to become another record year for growth here at OpinionLab. Our patented, real-time listening solution is rapidly gaining recognition as the global standard for effectively measuring, managing, and optimizing the multi-channel customer experience. As one of the founding members of OpinionLab, I continue to be blown away by the growth and evolution that this company has undergone in such a short period of time.

The back half of 2014 promises to be just as exciting as the first half. Next week, we’ll be releasing our latest Customer Experience Index Report, which gathers together more than 60 customer experience benchmarks across 8 key consumer sectors. There’s also some really exciting news upcoming on the product front, which will begin gradually trickling out in the weeks to come.

Bottom line: extremely exciting time to be onboard at OpinionLab, and we’re happy to see our momentum getting recognized (yet again) by Inc. Magazine.

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So long surveys [infographic]

Survey says: there’s a paradigm shift underway when it comes to capturing the voice of the customer.

Since Richard Dawson revealed his first set of survey results on Family Feud, a major shift in public receptiveness to surveys has occurred. Once thought of as a slightly annoying but indispensable part of market research, surveys have now fallen very much out of favor in the mainstream press and in the minds of shoppers. In the pages of the New York Times and USA Today, surveys have been decried for their length, their intrusive nature, and the general poor customer experiences they create.

With the survey falling from grace, does that spell trouble for the future of the customer voice? Far from it! In fact, the voice of the customer is louder and more relevant than ever. What’s changed in the manner in which it is collected and processed. While you’ll still see surveys being used by political pollsters, or by undergrads looking for quick-and-dirty data collection, the old school survey approach has lost credibility at the enterprise level, and is rapidly being displaced by the science of continuous, opt-in listening.

That’s why we’re very excited to announce the release of our latest white paper, entitled “So Long, Surveys!” In this white paper, you’ll learn how to avoid alienating your customers with lengthy surveys. You’ll also learn how to leverage continuous, opt-in listening to drive meaningful and profitable improvements to the customer experience.

We invite you to download the white paper and let us know what you think. Unlike the old school survey vendors, we’re always listening!

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OpinionLab Rockstars: Meet Kippy

Another Friday, another installment of OpinionLab Rockstars–today we’ve got the young and entertaining Kippy! She’s a crackerjack CX rep, an excellent cook, and an accomplished food writer; if she’d only bring me lunch once a week, I’d say she was perfect!

Check out her endeavors at http://www.youngandentertaining.com and receive inspiration galore for your next soiree!

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