Editor's Note: The following is a guest post from Matt Nelson, CX marketing manager at Qualtrics.
Following up with customers is a basic principle of operation and smart companies are always looking for better methods of engagement. But as technology advances, organizations are scrambling to keep up with expanding data and shifting expectations.
In spite of their best efforts, even smart companies still fail to close the loop with customers in several ways. Below, I break down the most critical missed opportunities and how businesses can address them to drive results:
1.) Failing to understand root causes behind problems
If there is any universal truth in business, it's that things never go as expected. Sometimes this is the result of bad ideas or poor planning, but just as often it's due to not understanding the root causes behind a failure.
This is an easy place to stumble. Although smart companies use feedback data to diagnose their shortcomings, that alone does not provide a full picture. Only by combining customer feedback with operational information can managers glean a snapshot of root causes in ways they wouldn't see otherwise.
For example, in a typical call center some reps will have better positive metrics than others. When managers look to replicate that success, understanding all of the drivers is essential. Do customers find the successful rep more friendly and helpful, or does he/she offer better technical knowledge? Are they slapping Band-Aids over complaints by giving out the most gift cards? How much does it have to do with time of day and quality of opportunity?
Looking at an expanded picture of the problem gives customer teams insightful new avenues for addressing concerns and closing the loop.
2.) Failing to engage with employees in ways that foster better CX
Understanding and interpreting information is critical to improving the customer experience. But many companies overlook their most critical source for direct engagement data: their own employees.
Finding the right levers to pull includes listening to the front-line team. Perhaps a support page is inadequate and should be updated, or an advertisement is causing confusion. Internal improvements solve a lot of issues.
Seventy percent of trained and engaged employees have a good understanding of how to meet customer needs, according to Qualtrics survey data. Only 17% of non-engaged employees say the same. Listening to teams leads not only to happier employees but also more satisfied customers, which is any manager's dream.
3.) Failing respond to the most valuable customers first
Companies work hard to signal that every customer — from the biggest to the smallest — gets the same treatment. It's usually a sound business practice and an important mindset for growing a customer base.
However, data proves it's the wrong approach in one key area: closing the loop with customers needs to be prioritized by value to the company. Engaging with the most vocal customers may seem like an urgent task, but it's not always where smart managers should prioritize their teams' time.
Companies need to determine which metrics are most profitable to their organization and then use that information to segment their clients by size, lifetime value and use case. For example, 1-800 Contacts reaches out to customers after orders are sent. Not only does this give the company a better understanding of each customer's lifetime value but also opens channels for fixing issues and even surprising customers with gifts.
By identifying top clients and top issues, smart companies can focus on what's most important, not just what's most obvious. The squeaky wheel should not always get the grease.
4.) Failing to use the right system for an organization
When organizations engage an experience platform, they are diving into a deep resource that can potentially improve every facet of their growth. However, a vendor eager to make a sale may try to dictate how a company's program should function. This is dangerous for companies; trying to squash an organization into a specific system will invariably result in important customer misses. It should be the system that adapts to the client's needs.
As the needs of customers change, so too must the platform change to measure and interpret new data. If a vendor system pre-determines which levers to pull, then it has no way of adapting once their levers are no longer relevant.
Instead of jamming their company into a fixed program, organizations need a scalable and flexible system driven by the most cutting-edge technology. An adaptable platform is essential for helping teams dive into their data to find key experience drivers and crucial insights.
5.) Failing to understand millennials
Closing the loop with millennial customers requires both a shift in understanding and an overhaul in methodology. Millennials expect easy access and a fast reply, with solutions in real time. There is no stern phone call to the manager — instead everything is mobile, with tweets, chat apps and bots as the name of the game.
It's worth noting that, as companies adapt to this shift, baby boomers and Generation Xers are happily jumping on board. Instant response and quick action are not a growing expectation because of the impatience of the younger generation, but because they are now possible.
Smart companies like 1-800 Contacts use customer experience platforms with multichannel feedback and mobile case management tools, allowing them to close the loop with customers in a real-time environment. The contacts lens retailer sends a feedback survey after each order fulfillment, including an open-ended question to ask what else they can do for their customers. They've been able to delight customers beyond their expectations, delivering candy, pizza and over 10,000 handwritten notes to individual customers based on their asks. The result has been incredible, including a 3.8% increase in product re-orders.
Every organization knows follow up is important. By addressing root causes, engaging employees, prioritizing valuable customers, utilizing a flexible system and understanding millennials, companies will close the loop at a higher rate and drastically improve their overall customer experiences.