Listening up to your customers
MAY 18, 2022
It’s all about listening; or maybe not?
Being a good listener can build mutual trust and confidence, being amongst the most valued skills in both personal and business relationships.
Listening doesn’t have to just be people-to-people. It can be between a brand and its customers, through a multi-layered type of communication, with customers interacting either directly with the front-facing employees through chats and phone calls, or indirectly by sending their feedback/reviews or stating their opinions in the social media.
In an era where the Customer Voice is louder than ever, companies are trying to find the best ways to listen as intensively and insightfully to what their customers think and feel for them, to address the challenges and opportunities, and capitalize on what they learn and improve Customer Experience.
As being surveyed by HundredX in 2017, a staggering 94% of 500 business executives found themselves agreeable to the following statement: “Listening to customer feedback is increasingly critical to the bottom line.” In fact, it is the very fuel for customer loyalty, employee fulfillment, and the growth of a company.
Listening is the key for a customer-driven company, but making this happen might not be as straightforward as it looks: Let’s say that you had all the available resources to listen to all the phone calls, read all the emails, chats, reviews, and social posts of your customers, while at the same time evaluating the responses of your people too. Are you done and over with it? Rather not. This is simply because this cannot be reduced only to a problem of resources rather than quality, as remaining unbiased with your business to extract the right messages out of this process can be definitely much harder than it looks.
And this is exactly what makes the real difference, the capability to listen at scale and listen well, that will define best-in-class organizations.
Which, apart from finding the right tools and resources, can be only cemented with an organizational cultural shift away from a broadcast mindset to listening, with the ultimate objective being for the customer or employee to feel they were heard. With the power of Artificial Intelligence, you can turn customers’ communications into a competitive advantage.
As recent AI advancements in technology now give us the processing power to analyze what customers say at every touchpoint and extract valuable insights regarding their experience with your brand, making “listening” part of the culture of your company is the real challenge for a customer-driven organization, in an inward and outward manner, as the happiest employees and customers are those who feel that the companies they work for or do business with, relate to them; and that is because these companies listen.
The tangible benefits for a listening organization
You should always put the customer at the top of mind in everything you do. To stay ahead of the competition, you have to do the extra mile yourself and reach your customers where they are, listen well to what they are saying and act fast. You can do that by integrating a dedicated Customer Experience program, that leverages the power of Artificial Intelligence, into your processes and there are some very good reasons not to wait too long for it.
- Real-time Feedback And Data: Your customers can give you the best source of real-time feedback, and employees on the front line are typically the first ones to hear from customers. Bringing both to a synergy through the right tool can help you find the Good, the Bad, and the… Ugly and identify opportunities to create an even better Customer Experience. And don’t forget, as employees on the frontline must listen to customers, leadership and management must equally listen to their frontline.
- Listening Gets You Stories To Share: Most feedback methods produce loud-sourced data that is negative. There’s an old saying that “the squeaky wheel gets the oil”. Companies usually debrief problems and complaints, but it’s important to look at both negative and positive feedback. In addition to managing complaints, problems, etc, make sure to share good feedback and stories with employees and customers across websites, social networks, and offline networks too. It can be some of your best marketing activities!
- Growing Customer Retention: It’s pretty much universally accepted that it’s less expensive to keep existing customers than to acquire new ones. A survey by HundredX and YouGov shows that 88% of business executives believe that to be the case. And listening is just as important, as driving retention.
- Increasing Customer Spending: Α report from Applied Marketing Science found that customers who receive responses to their tweets are willing to spend 3-20% more on average-priced items. It’s pretty simple: Make a customer happy and they buy more. And what makes them happy, in addition to a good customer experience, is feeling that they are being heard. The proof can be found in social media. When a customer tweets (or posts on any other social channel), we must all listen… and respond.
- Creating Brand Ambassadors: When you make customers happy, they talk to their friends, family members, and colleagues. This is amplified through social media. And, your best marketing is going to come from customers who sing your praises!
- Creating Employee Retention: Customer feedback is gold – and so is employee feedback. Listen to your employees’ suggestions and ideas for improving any aspect of the business, and act on the best suggestions. You will be amazed at the incredible suggestions your employees will give you if you simply ask and listen. Also, offer them the proper tools to improve Customer Experience – after all, it always ends up to your people!
What’s in for marketing & CX leaders
Although the power of CX technology has proven itself that it can elevate the way customers think about your brand, many organizations are still reluctant, finding it challenging and demanding to streamline their processes and integrate new capabilities.
Transforming your customers’ experience begins with understanding your customers.
Therefore, it’s no surprise that according to Gartner the 2 top priorities for Customer Experience projects are CX Measurement Metrics & KPIs and Voice of Customer insights:
CX Metrics & KPIs
According to a McKinsey study, 93% of CX leaders are using survey-based metrics, while only 15% of them said they were fully satisfied with how their company was measuring CX, and only 6% percent expressed confidence that their measurement system enables both strategic and tactical decision making.
Which brings us to the question of surveys: can they provide the depth of understanding and insight that companies need into their customers’ experiences?
No, as surveys, being the sole or main means of measuring CX, fall always short, as they represent only a small percent of your customer’s voice (7%), they’re out-of-step with the real-time needs of organizations and don’t get to the root of the problems, while it’s also it’s difficult to tie survey scores to real-world CX initiatives.
AI-Powered Voice & Text Analytics
Advances in AI-powered text analytics like Natural Language Understanding and emotion analysis allow CX organizations to mine unstructured customer feedback. By pairing the structured and unstructured forms of customer experience data together in your analysis, you’ve got all the ingredients you need to understand what’s driving your customers’ interactions with your brand:
- CX & Loyalty metrics
- Voice of Customer insights
- Evaluate Customer Service
- Segment your customers
- Pair AI-powered analytics with surveys
Voice of Customer Insights
You may use the power of AI to analyze all the digital touchpoints that customers use to communicate with your business and understand what they tell you in natural language: Call center, Emails, Chats, Comments in Social Reviews, Surveys, and Forms.
The value of VoC Insights: Should you offer same-day delivery or improve the last mile experience? Maybe build a mobile app additionally to your web commerce? Or launch a Virtual Agent as a frontliner for your customer service? Such answers and many more CX alerts are hidden in tons of dialog data with your customers, waiting to be leveraged by the right AI CX tool, to extract them and then act fast to improve Customer Experience!
Know your Customers: Now that you know where you stand with your CX, it’s time to improve it. You can be laser-focused on what matters the most for your business, design your strategy and then use technology to improve CX at every touchpoint. You will get immediate and individual signals to take action “at the moment” and to create relevant experiences for each customer, while you will be demonstrated which experience enhancements will result in positive ROI.
What’s in for the Customer Service leaders
Customers who receive good customer service interactions are more loyal. That’s why CX and contact center leaders must monitor and improve the quality of those interactions. Most rely on surveys but run into challenges with that approach: Surveys cover less than 10% of all interactions; surveys fatigue customers and exclude certain customer groups; surveys aren’t effective for employee coaching; surveys don’t provide “actionable” data in real-time. Instead, leaders must take advantage of the untapped gold mine of unstructured customer data – that today is going to waste – using the analytics, machine learning, and AI methods that are increasingly widespread and easy to use. Now Customer Service leaders can use new tools, data, and approaches to upgrade to a more scalable approach to measuring and improving CX:
- Evaluate customer service performance
- Bring at the spotlight the best practices in customer service and train your agents upon them
- By listening to the Voice of Customer and using AI to analyze conversations, you may automatically build Q&As for your knowledge base
- By having an AI a Knowledge Base that is automatically updated, you have the necessary content to use a bot as a frontliner for your customer service.
What lies ahead
The future of listening to customers with the power of AI is bright as analytics and NLP technologies are constantly advancing. Here are some things that we should be expecting in the years to come in this very competitive landscape:
- Situation Analysis & Benchmarking: See how your company compares with competition from various industries
- Customer Satisfaction Drivers: Identify what drives customer satisfaction – and what doesn’t. Define a driver in a way that is similar to the concept of elasticity in economics: the effect on satisfaction from a specified change in the driver.
- Simulation: The causal drivers will be inputs into simulation forecasting technology. It lets the user forecast what the expected results from various improvement strategies are likely to be in terms of customer satisfaction, retention, loyalty, and financial returns.
That’s it then; your turn now, to challenge the way you do things
Yes, all the best-in-class businesses run recurring surveys on their customers, to learn where they stand by assessing various CX & Loyalty metrics and evaluating their Customer Service and Voice of Customer insights.
At the same time, it’s time to realize that you are sitting on an unopened treasure of your customers’ interactions, with all this priceless information on what your customers really think about your business. Well, it’s about time to leverage AI to unlock it!
The time to make “listening” part of the culture of your company is now, with recent advancements making it possible to unleash the full array of NLP features.
The data is already there, ready to be turned by AI into useful insights and build the right culture that will make you a customer-driven organization, are you up for the challenge?