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The Arrival of Omnichannel Requires A New Approach to CX

In today’s world of pervasive mobility and connected screens, it’s becoming more and more common for a customer’s interaction with a brand to span multiple channels, even for a single transaction. Research and comparison on a smart phone, scanning reviews on a desktop, selection and purchase on a tablet, pick-up in a store, and service via a call center is today a very realistic cross-channel customer journey.

Heightened customer expectations regarding how they’re served during their cross-channel customer journey have changed the way brands need to interact with customers in order to deliver a high quality and consistent customer experience. Customers expect their interactions with a brand to be high quality and consistent across a brand’s channels, and seamless between those channels. Omnichannel often is used to describe this environment of seamless connectivity back and forth among channels.

Whether they’re frustrated or delighted, customers expect to be able to speak with a brand when they want to, at any point during their journey, through any channel. And, customers expect brands to hear their feedback, engage with them and take demonstrable and timely action.

CX diagnostics are an ideal mechanism to capture real-time, omnichannel customer feedback with the context necessary to engage and take immediate action. CX diagnostics will move the needle on long-term CX improvements and subsequently increase customer satisfaction and improve loyalty. But the advent of connected, cross-channel brand interactions requires new thinking regarding what questions brands ask their customers to best gauge customer satisfaction and propensity for loyalty in an omnichannel environment.

Based on knowledge gleaned from over a decade helping the world’s biggest brands improve cross-channel CX, OpinionLab’s omnichannel best practices provide specific recommendations as to how brands should engage with their customers during an omnichannel customer journey. And we’re not alone; leading industry analysts such as Forrester have come to similar conclusions.

We’re excited to be able to leverage our deep expertise and years of experience to bring this thought leadership to our customers. Our CX insights analysts are already applying this thought leadership to help our customers on their quest for a consistent and quality omnichannel CX and the improved customer satisfaction and loyalty that come with it.

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Our Latest Customer Opinion Index Report is Live!

I’m very excited to announce that we just published the latest edition of our Customer Opinion Index (COI) benchmark report, which is now available for download on our website. This exclusive report from OpinionLab tracks 60+ customer experience benchmarks across 8 major industries and sheds light on the key drivers of the customer experience across channels.

Published exclusively by OpinionLab, COI is the one number you need to measure your ability to deliver incredible omnichannel customer experiences. We’re proud to help a community of the world’s biggest brands deliver consistently high quality customer experiences. That leadership affords us the ability to publish the industry’s most comprehensive and most actionable set of customer experience benchmarks.

Customer experience truly is the new marketing. We’ve been preaching that gospel for years, and it looks like enterprise leaders are finally starting to catch on. With customers being more connected, more informed, and more empowered than ever, we totally agree with the CEO of Mercedes-Benz USA when he states that “customer experience better be at the top of [the] list when it comes to priorities in [the] organization.”

But it’s not enough to have a killer customer experience strategy. True CX leaders blend strategy with real-time listening and measurement to insure they are consistently thrilling their customers, as well as intervening, with pinpoint precision, the moment an experience goes off the rails. That’s where COI benchmarking proves its value.

COI benchmarks, now accessible to OpinionLab customers in real-time with our Winter Release, provide the type of pinpoint visibility you need to determine if your brand is truly delivering a first-class customer experience.

I invite you to download and read the report, and encourage you to reach out if you would like to learn more about how the COI benchmarking framework can make a difference in helping you drive better and more consistent CX.

The Importance of Customer Community

An interesting phenomenon enjoyed by many leading brands is that as you deliver value to more and more customers, a customer community of interest forms around your brand.

Some are obvious.

Have your ever walked by an Apple Store the week before a new product launch and noticed the people sleeping on the sidewalk waiting to get first shot at the latest? That’s a very demonstrative example, albeit it at the lunatic fringe, of an exceptionally powerful customer community.

Subtler, but no less passionate, communities exist.

Did you know Microsoft channel 9  has over 37,000 members that interact every day to share and learn?

These communities go by many names and take many forms, but they all share a common passion for sharing the value of a brand and learning from each other.

As the leader in helping the world’s biggest brands deliver a high quality and consistent customer experience (CX), OpinionLab has our own customer community.

Customers aren’t camping outside the OpinionLab offices waiting for our next release (yet), but they are still very passionate about what we do to help them deliver value to their customers.

This passion was recently on display in Chicago where a group of OpinionLab customers got together over dinner at the world famous Girl & the Goat restaurant to share best practices with each other.

Introducing the Goat

Award winning chef Stephanie Izard kicked off the evening by articulating the importance of CX in her business, but she soon conceded the floor to OpinionLab customers.

OpinionLab customers shared story after story with each other about how they use OpinionLab’s unique CX diagnostics  as best practice to drive immediate and measurable business results.

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Even more exciting were the examples from the world’s top brands of how new capabilities like our Comment Mosaic are already being used all the way to the C-suite to catalyze a culture of greater customer centricity within their organizations.

OpinionLab’s customer community is an important market validation that we’re on the right track in terms of the value we deliver.

But, it’s also an important and constant reminder of our obligation to continue to innovate.

If you’re part of our OpinionLab community of customers, we encourage you to continue to share best practices and benefit from each other’s collective knowledge.

We’re honored to be playing a role in your success.

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Free Your Mind: Voice of Customer

A guest blog post by Bill Bruno, CEO of Stratigent, a market leader in multi-channel analytics.

When people hear the phrase “Voice of Customer” (VOC) they instantly think of surveys and comment cards deployed on their website. The problem is: if you think VOC as merely a provider of customer opinions, you are missing the real value of the technology. There is no better metric for improving your customer experience than actual customer feedback.

For years, organizations have tried to use attitudinal data to enhance the analysis of the behavioral data within their analytics solution. But if your approach is to merely review what people are saying on your site, you’ll most likely fall into one of the following mindsets:

  • We don’t get enough feedback on the site to be representative of our customer base.
  • It would be a full-time job to sift through all the feedback to find the valuable insights.
  • I don’t know what a satisfaction score means or how I can affect that positively.
  • We build alerts based off of keywords or specific pages to try and catch critical path issues and comments.

Based upon the work we do for our clients on a daily basis, my goal is to get you to think differently about the power of VOC. Since roughly 2006, Stratigent has worked with VOC vendors, such as OpinionLab, to help clients transcend the mindsets outlined above. Gone are the days where having a fancy, scientific “satisfaction score” matters; the reality is that your customers leave feedback for one of two reasons:

  1. They are brand loyal and are thrilled about something you’ve done, a product you have, or just generally want to gush and let you know they love you (less likely).
  2. They are upset, can’t figure out how to do something, have run into an error/issue, or just generally think you deserve to be yelled at for some reason(more likely).

The true power of VOC is action.

Since option #2 is more likely, you have the ability in that moment to take action on the feedback and turn those frowns upside down. For the remainder of this newsletter, I’m going to outline some of the more innovative and impactful applications of VOC data:

  • Personas
  • Immediate Action
  • Personalization
  • A/B or Multi-Variate testing (MVT) segmentation
  • Customer Experience Management
  • On-Premises Feedback (Geolocation)

Personas

Many people seem to forget that comment cards provide a unique opportunity to try and gain real value from the feedback (instead of just getting yelled at). You need to capitalize off the opportunity that has presented itself: a customer has decided to take time out of his/her day to tell you something. So when you set up those comment cards on your site, how do you decide what questions to ask? In that moment, you should make sure you’re asking a few (but not too many) questions that will help give you more information about that person. Furthermore, you should make sure you’re asking guided questions tailored to the different areas of your digital presence instead of simply using a generic comment card across your site.

As an example, one of our clients knew that they could place their customers into one of 3 personas the marketing department had identified based upon that person’s answers to a few key questions. So, we built those questions right into the comment cards and stored the persona for later use based upon the answers. I’ll take this a step further in a few of the upcoming sections, but keep in mind that this persona could be persisted for the duration of that visit and all subsequent visits with the right level of implementation finesse.

Immediate Action

As I mentioned earlier, you have a unique opportunity to respond right away to the feedback someone is leaving you on your digital channel. For example, if a customer says that they can’t find a manual for a specific product, wouldn’t it be great if you could quickly provide them the link for the manual before they leave your site?

Many VOC solutions give you the ability to customize the “Thank You” page that a user will be prompted with upon clicking submit. So, as you start to analyze the common feedback you receive from customers, you may detect patterns or common asks. With some simple coding logic embedded within the “Thank You” page you can tailor the content within the “Thank You” page as it renders to solve for the specific issue to which the customer is calling your attention. Boom. Problem solved and that customer leaves happy and fulfilled.

Personalization

It is important to remember that your VOC comment card is merely an extension of your digital channel. For those of you collecting feedback on your website, as an example, the comment cards are simply pages on your site provided you implement it correctly. Going back to the persona example, think of the power at your fingertips if you are able to learn about your customers based upon the feedback they have provided and take action based off that knowledge.

Perhaps you’ve asked them to provide their income level or the purpose of their visit; maybe you are interested in identifying their persona or status level in your loyalty program. With the help of a strategic data layer you can persist that information and make use of it during that visit or all subsequent visits (within reason depending upon how you implement).  From there, you can start to personalize content and re-market these individuals based upon what you already know about them and the behaviors they exhibit from that point forward.

As an example, perhaps you prioritize the order of articles or brochures on a page automatically based upon the identified purpose of someone’s visit as a result of their feedback. The best part? All of this can be done in an automated way without manual intervention.

A/B or MVT Segmentation

This is merely an extension of personalization, as these two concepts go hand-in-hand. At Stratigent, we look at optimization from two perspectives:

  • Proactive Testing
  • Passive Personalization

Passive personalization would be the content targeting and personalization I’ve outlined previously. Proactive testing would be the A/B and MVT approach. With testing, you can run a test for all of your website traffic or a segmented sample of your traffic. The real value is in segmenting your tests for specific scenarios as that will slowly graduate to passive personalization and building a learning engine.

By storing an individual’s answers to the questions within your comment cards, you now have the ability to use all of those answers as “segments” for future A/B or MVT you may run on your site.

Customer Experience Management

At Stratigent, we have an entire practice dedicated to Customer Experience. A common technology we help customers use in this realm is IBM Tealeaf – a platform that helps companies overcome the online visibility gap by capturing the qualitative details of each visitor interaction to provide the insight and answers required to ensure websites are consistently delivering a positive, successful experience. A main complaint about Tealeaf, however, is the abundance of data within the system and the amount of effort required to uncover insights within a dataset of that size.

One of the coolest integrations we’ve built for customers is the integration of OpinionLab with Tealeaf. With the OpinionLab integration, you can:

  • Use VOC data to identify segments within Tealeaf based upon common feedback topics or complaints
  • “Replay” sessions for users based upon specific feedback they have left in order to diagnose the root issues your customers are facing

Being able to look at Tealeaf data via this lens has resulted in some unbelievable ROI and insights for our customers.

On-Premises Feedback (Geolocation)

We live in a multi-channel world. Your customers are potentially not just unhappy on your websites, mobile apps, etc.They are also potentially experiencing issues within your retail locations, banks, on your airplanes, in your hotels, etc. The more touch points for your business there are, the increased chance that there will be issues your customers will run into. There are a few ways we’ve worked with clients to approach a multi-channel solution:

  • Adjust your comment cards on your website to let customers leave feedback about the website or a physical location
  • A great example of this is Home Depot

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  •  Embed feedback into your mobile app and take one of the following approaches:
  •  Simply allow your customers to leave feedback about their experience and input their location
  • With geolocation turned on, automatically determine the location when customers leave feedback for the store they are in or near
  • Empower your store managers, hotel managers, etc. with the ability to monitor feedback about their specific locations in real-time to give them a chance to take action right away

When it comes to solving issues in real-time by location, OpinionLab offers the ability to create a “comment mosaic” for businesses to filter feedback based upon location, specific terms, store numbers, etc. The mosaic can provide a filtered view to the appropriate people for each location in a timely manner so they can make decisions and rectify problems before their impact reaches detrimental levels.

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Final Thoughts

If you’re not currently deploying a VOC technology, you should consider putting that on your roadmap for 2015. There is an incredible opportunity for you to enhance your brand experience and increase conversions by simply giving your customers the ability to provide you with feedback. That’s not to say that all feedback will be valuable or worth taking action on, but you’re missing out on the low-hanging fruit by not listening to your customers.

Originally published in the Stratigent WebSight Newsletter. Subscribe to the Stratigent WebSight newsletter here.

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Why are CX diagnostics important?

As a client-side marketer, before joining OpinionLab, I was already very attuned to the importance of customer experience, or CX, as a key market differentiator for brands. According to a recent Gartner study, 89% of marketing leaders said they expected to compete primarily on the basis of the customer experience by 2016.

That’s an intimidating timetable. Even more intimidating is the concept of competing on an amorphous concept, an amalgamation of customer perceptions accumulated across long and diverse customer journeys.

Some brands, like Apple, make it look effortless. Most brands struggle to take an exceptionally complex idea that spans traditionally disconnected customer touch points and translate it into business action.

Adding additional complexity is accelerating technology evolution. Mobile is pervasive. Screens are now connected. Maybe I’m dating myself, but I still remember when you could count the number of web browsers and mobile operating systems on one hand.

Quickly following this technology evolution are rapidly changing consumer expectations. Changing expectations that are driving seismic change in CX, even in traditionally slow moving industries. Have you noticed how Buy online, Pick up in store (BOPUS) is starting to show up everywhere in Retail? Do you now deposit checks into your bank account by sending a picture from your smartphone? Who still prints out an airline ticket? Anybody?

Through all this accelerating change, the basic tenets of business generally hold true: business success is attributable to prioritizing action in a timely manner to best achieve business goals.

From a CX perspective, prioritizing business action has typically been solely based on evaluative measurement derived from trailing feedback. Customers are asked for their feedback at some point after they have a brand interaction, that input is compared to historic feedback ratings, and if a trend is identified, resources are prioritized to affect change. Evaluative measurement is good, but it misses an opportunity to engage with an individual consumer in the moment of brand experience and take immediate action. CX diagnostics deliver that capability, and in turn, can deliver a higher quality and more consistent customer experience.

Suddenly, the concept of competing on the basis of customer experience seems less intimidating.  Leading brands are already leveraging diagnostic and evaluative Voice of Customer feedback solutions to extend their CX lead.

Want to learn more about the value of CX diagnostics to your business? Check out our white paper on the subject.

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