How Businesses Can Transform Themselves with Customer Feedback

Liz Carter

How does a business achieve digital transformation with customer feedback? This was one of the core questions covered during my fireside chat with guest speaker, Forrester Senior Analyst Colleen Fazio during our annual Transform event. We covered a lot of ground as we discussed the challenges and opportunities for businesses to listen to customers in a systematic way and then use that feedback to improve the entire enterprise. Here are four key takeaways from our chat with Colleen:

1. Customer Obsession Creates Business Value

According to Forrester’s research into the customer experience, companies that are customer-obsessed report 1.6 higher revenue growth than companies that are not Customer Obsessed.

“Part of this is putting customers at the center of your strategy, of your leadership, and your operations,” Colleen said. “It’s digital, marketing and CX working together to create a CX growth engine.”

It’s essential that businesses tie customer-centric practices back to measurable outcomes across departments – not just CX and marketing. If it’s just the goal of the CX team to hit certain metrics but other teams aren’t invested, the CX team isn’t empowered, and the initiative will fall flat. Instead organizations need to have shared goals that will allow them to drive the results they need. 

Our take: One of our pillars of reputation management is measuring success and optimizing your performance to improve your strategy. We use our proprietary metric, Reputation Score, which assigns a business an overall rating based on multiple factors of publicly available data including sentiment and review volume. We’ve seen our customers that put the Reputation Score at the center of their business be able to drive that cohesive thread across their teams because an increase in Reputation Score ties directly to their business goals. 

2. The Voice of the Customer Is a Verb, not a Noun

“Voice of the Customer programs need to die off a little bit,” said Colleen.

No, she was not dissing Voice of the Customer programs. She was saying that businesses need to focus more on the practice of VoC.  Practicing means listening, and listening means going beyond surveys and pulling together all forms of feedback ranging from reviews to employee insights. The practice of VoC also means, among other things, listening to customers at every step in the customer journey and aligning your learnings with your strategic goals.

Our take: indeed, the practice of VoC needs to include a willingness to understand end-to-end feedback, trends, and sentiment to drive growth. And the successful practice of VoC means integrating learnings across your organization’s systems to unite with customer feedback. This means working cross-functionally to ensure that feedback is shared and used in a way that is beneficial for the entire organization, not just one specific department.

3. Surveys Are Just One Piece of Customer Feedback Mosaic

Ah, surveys. They are oftentimes reviled for being too lengthy and complicated. But they are still needed. After all, they are a source of measurable data. That said, they are changing. Technology like conversational AI makes it possible for surveys to ask smarter and shorter questions in a more natural way that reflects a customer’s experience. With contextual data about customer actions, surveys can skip the basic “When did you purchase a product and at what store?” questions and skip to the really interesting stuff about a person’s experience. 

Surveys are most effective when a brand uses them as one tool in a broader toolkit that includes things like unsolicited feedback and ratings and reviews.  “The biggest driver of CX loyalty is emotion,” Colleen said. “Understanding emotion is super important. It comes from multiple sources of data, such as reviews, calls to the contact center, and surveys.”

Our take: Surveys help a business get customer feedback, but enterprises want a 360-degree customer view that offers more complete insight. For example, online reviews, social media comments and ratings on other online forums can provide a more complete picture of what works well and where improvements can be made. Businesses should incorporate surveys as part of a more holistic approach that enables brands to deliver better experiences by making strategic decisions rooted in actionable insights.

4. All Feedback Must Be Data-Driven. But Data Must Be Meaningful.

“Data is great,” Colleen said. “But data does not tell you about the emotion behind what the customer is feeling.” She gave the example of visitor dwell time on a web page. A long dwell time can mean a site visitor is really enjoying your content or someone is really frustrated and struggling to find what they want. “The only way to know is for the customer to tell you.”

But understanding the customer requires technology to pull that customer feedback and data together (“tools like Reputation are great for that,” she added). Customer understanding also depends on the data literacy of the organization, capacity for analysis, and a willingness to connect data to shared goals. Shared data and goals can inspire some great collaboration between marketing and CX.

Our take: we’ve been sharing a number of insights lately about the merging of measurable customer data that captures both the “what” behind customer activity and the “why,” which is where customer sentiment applies. Our recently published blog post delves into how we merge these two essential dimensions of data in customer data platforms.

Contact Reputation

Thank you, Colleen, for joining us at Transform! Reputation helps our clients affect real, lasting change with feedback through our platform and consulting expertise. Contact us to learn how we can help you. 

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