Scott Buchanan, director of marketing at Medallia, tells MyCustomer.com about the challenges of aggregating customer feedback and the importance of a dynamic customer experience management strategy for brand success.
In an increasingly multichannel world, companies are struggling to convert customer feedback into the much-desired single view of the customer. Whether it’s failing to monitor certain touch points or not monitoring them fully, the holes in a brand’s feedback management can lead to missed opportunities in future strategies.
One company that aims to plug that gap is Medallia, a US-based customer experience management company. The firm’s director of marketing Scott Buchanan explains that most companies typically think they have a customer feedback programme but the reality is that they’re often far less dynamic than they originally think.
He explains: “It tends to be measuring a single touch point or interaction in more traditional fashion on a quarterly or annual basis and that doesn't make it very easy to take action on feedback.”
Another issue for companies, especially larger corporations, is that different departments tend to own different touch points, measuring these in different ways and failing to communicate their findings internally. It often takes a team specifically charged with examining customer experience to realise the gap, says Buchanan.
In the customer experience programs Medallia coordinates, Buchanan explains that there are six questions every CEO should ask themselves to assess how well their company is doing, including: ‘Who in our organisation engages with customer feedback?’; ‘How many customer touch points do we monitor?’; and ‘How many feedback channels are we tuned in to?’
Typical responses to the questions revealed an overwhelming number of companies struggle with engagement, with most unable to connect customer experience metrics and financial operational metrics. “Being able to make that connection helps grab executive attention,” explains Buchanan. “An executive can see the decision to staff up my contact centre reduces wait time and greatly increases customer satisfaction.”
Engaging front line staff is another challenge. Buchanan explains that some companies are too scared to put customer feedback in front of their call centre agents or sales associations and hold them accountable.
He explains: “Some companies perceive it as another system for their people to log into; they’re already overwhelmed. That doesn't need to be the case. Companies that approach this in the right way make the feedback very simple for the frontline to understand. They make the action that the frontline needs to take very clear and they embed it as a habit.”
Customers that review feedback, relay it to their frontline teams and integrate it into future customer service strategies reap benefits as a result, says Buchanan. “More companies take this approach as they understand that customer experience is a differentiator.”
Collecting feedback from the traditional channels, as well as the multiple touch points created by social channels, and aggregating into one platform can help deliver better customer service, he says.
To help companies do this, Medallia maps out the number of touch points a brand can monitor versus what they’re actually monitoring in the hope of flushing out the blind spots. “We ask them ‘Are you surveying through paper or email; are you also scraping social media review sites? Does feedback reside in different departments or is it a unified platform?’
“We help them figure out how to use a common set of metrics to measure the customer experience across all their touch points and ask them who in their organisation is responsible for engaging with customer feedback - is it just something that the market research team is receiving on a quarterly basis in a thick PowerPoint deck or are executives engaged?
“Are they logging in or viewing dashboards and making decisions based on customer feedback and customer experience. Is the front line engaged, are they receiving feedback about their performance and do they have the information they need to quickly follow up with customers,” he says.
Having one system in place helps companies resolve issue first time. Buchanan notes recent research from MIT examining negative online reviews, which found that 96% had a ‘double deviation’ – they had a product or service problem as their first failure, then they called in for support, which was the second critical failure. Following both failures, the research showed this is the stage that customers take their complaint to social media.
He says: “If companies have very dynamic customer experience management systems in place then they would have learned about the customer's first frustrations and there would've been clear accountability on who was to follow up with that proactively to resolve that problem.
"And even if you fail that first time then you have a second chance when the customer calls back to know who's calling and why they're calling. If you've got the right system in place, your ability to resolve their issue is much greater.”
Additionally, recent research Medallia undertook with specific clients showed that when companies follow up with a dissatisfied customer, they’re more satisfied than they would have been initially.
“We call that the service recovery paradox,” he explains. “If you fall down on that first attempt, you’re very quick to respond within a 48-hour window and you resolve that customer's problem with very little incremental effort on their part, they are actually happier than your core set of satisfied customers and they become one of your strongest advocates.
“With the right systems in place and with clear accountability for their people, companies can follow up with those kinds of customers.”