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Helping you put the customer at the heart of every decision.

Category: Analysis

Leslie Pagel

Don’t let your emotional intelligence steal your sparkle!

"Most often, success or failure in a job comes down to how we manage ourselves and how well we manage relationships with coworkers…not how much we know." Jennifer Shirkani

During the 2017 Walker B-to-B CX Summit, Jennifer Shirkani talked about the importance of emotional intelligence. I admit, until her presentation I thought emotional intelligence was akin to self-awareness. Boy, was I wrong.

Emotional intelligence is how we respond (or adapt) based on our self-awareness. Jennifer shared this example. Someone with high self-awareness and no emotional intelligence might be inclined to think, "This is who I am. Take it or leave it." While those with self-awareness and emotional intelligence are more likely to think, "This is who I am, but I can make temporary adjustments to adapt to others."

I often hear people blame others for their shortcomings – guilty as charged. But, perhaps it isn't them. It's our own self. Our emotional intelligence could be the thing that is stealing our sparkle.

So, what does this have to do with customer experience? A lot.

It's our job to put the customer at the heart of business. We must have our finger on the pulse of our customer relationships. We have to influence decisions without having authority. We have to engage the organization. When you think about it, our role has very little to do with our self-awareness, and everything to do with them – customers, employees, partners, investors, etc. Yes, we need to know ourselves, but we must be able to adapt if we're going to truly hear what our customers are saying and achieve buy-in and support throughout the organization.

What do you think?

Side note: This blog was inspired by my daughter, Lillian. She occasionally binge watches Greys Anatomy and recently accused Izzie of stealing Meredith's sparkle.

Phil Bounsall

Every Day Questions

There are certain questions we should constantly ask ourselves. Every day, these questions should be on our minds. I’ll bet we can all come up with a list. Here is a starter list:

  1. Every positive experience you encounter as a customer should be followed by the question, "How can I provide that kind of an experience to my customers?"
  2. And the first question's sibling: for every negative experience, “How can I make sure I never do that to my customers?”Questions to ask yourself every day
  3. Every time you think about how strategic your customers are to you, ask yourself, "How can I be as strategic to my customers as they are to me?"
  4. “What did I do today to create value for my customers and my company?”
  5. Time is precious. Days, weeks, months, quarters, and even years fly by. So, “Did I accomplish what I set out to today?”
  6. “Why?”
  7. It’s easy to think about the things we should do, but “What should I stop doing?”
  8. Sometimes a clean slate would be nice. No baggage, no history, no constraints. “If I were new in this position, what changes would I make?”

Add to the list. I know there are many more, and one question just might cause someone to think and act in a new way.

Amanda Wray

And How Does that Make You Feel? Measuring Emotions in CX

We all know that the human experience is rife with emotional ups and downs. You've probably experienced more emotions so far today than we could even count: angry while commuting, relieved (or stressed?) when finally entering the office, frustrated when you spilled your coffee on your brand-new white shirt (exasperated that of course you chose today out of all days to wear your new shirt), surprised yet thankful that you actually had your stain-eraser pen for once, etc. We live through our perceptions, with every action being processed through our emotional filter.

How are you feeling today?

So why would we expect any different for a customer's experience? Throughout each interaction with a business, a customer likely feels a certain way, maybe even those same feelings I listed above: anger, relief, stress, frustration, exasperation, surprise, and so on. How can we harness those feelings – emotions – to help us improve the customer experience?

I wrote another blog about emotions last year, in which I was pondering these same points, but unsure of how to measure emotion. Since then, we've had a chance to explore the measurement in more detail, allowing us to develop a few new approaches. Of course, text analytics can search for key terms that indicate emotion, and we've also incorporated quantitative questions in our surveys to ask directly what emotion was felt.

The example I want to share is an interesting opportunity to outline emotions during a customer's experience – journey mapping. Journey maps have already been helping to identify where customers might struggle or succeed the most when interacting with a business. Layer on common emotions felt during each key touch point, or moment of truth, and you have a much more powerful understanding of a customer's perspective. See the example below, inspired from a real journey mapping session.

Emotions were measured by asking customers how they felt about certain key moments. It can be that simple – "How did you feel when you were buying the product?" "From this pick list, choose one word that describes your experience when renewing your contract." These answers constituted the "Current" emotions in the top blue bar.

Separately, employees were asked how they wanted customers to feel during the interactions. Those emotions appear in the bottom blue bar, next to "Ideal." Then, planning sessions ensued to determine how to move customers from "Current" to "Ideal."

You'll notice that two of the emotions, "Trapped" and "Loyal," hearken to Walker's proprietary Loyalty Matrix. Not all emotions are going to manifest in a customer yelling and screaming about poor service, or in someone simply recommending a company to their pals. Feeling attached or feeling the need to escape are powerful emotions that could directly indicate what a customer's behavior will be.

There are a lot of emotions out there, likely more than one simple process or measurement could ever harness. However, keying in on important moments, as done in the journey map above, can help to prioritize at least where we should identify common feelings, and how those feelings could impact CX overall.

Trust is a Must: Five Strategies to Build Trust Using Your CX Program

How trusting are you of people? Now, what if I asked how trusting you are of businesses? I have a hunch your answer may have shifted. As customer experience professionals, we need to understand why trust matters to customers and what can be done to build it.

Enter Dan Ariely, professor of psychology and behavioral economics at Duke University. In The Trust Factory, he outlines five key mechanisms that boost trust and how businesses can apply them. Taking it a step further, I share my take on how we can use his findings to build trust through customer experience (CX) initiatives.

Here are the five elements of trust and how you can put them to work in your CX program:

  1. Established Relationships
    Trusted Partner

    Research shows that people trust more when they think their interactions will extend for a longer period of time. However, flashy promotions and the ability to easily shop around on the web can lead to less loyal customers and less trust in suppliers. Now more than ever, companies must foster long-term relationships to maintain trust.

    How to build relationships using your CX strategy:Identify loyal customers through ongoing voice-of-customer research.

    • Recognize loyal customers and reward them with benefits, acknowledgments (think loyalty badges), programs or products to show you appreciate their loyalty.
  2. Transparency
    It’s no secret that transparency helps build trust. Customers like to know what’s going on in a business, and they feel more comfortable knowing company behaviors are being monitored.

    How to improve transparency using your CX strategy:

    • Encourage all feedback – good and bad – and make it easy for customers to provide it.
    • Share your findings with customers – outline what you are doing or will be doing to address any shortcomings.
  3. Intentionality
    People judge based on the underlying reasons behind a decision. That’s why intentionality plays a critical role in building trust. Customers want assurance that business decisions are intentional and well thought out.

    How to demonstrate intentionality using your CX strategy:

    • Provide the explanation behind your decisions – if you base decisions on your CX research, let your customers know!
    • Use existing or future CX communications to demonstrate that your actions align with customer values.
  4. Revenge
    Somewhat surprisingly, revenge contributes to building trust. When the possibility for revenge – or the ability to provide feedback, reviews, etc. – exists, it reduces the sense that one party (the business) has more control than the other (the customer). Allowing for “revenge” can help increase customer trust.

    How to enable revenge using your CX strategy:

    • Devise a voice-of-customer survey, online tool or feedback forum that easily allows customers to share their thoughts.
    • Promise customers something upfront if you fail to meet obligations. This could be the promise of free product returns if expectations are not met or even a free product or service to make up for it.
  5. Aligned Incentives
    Playing the role of an adviser, rather than just a seller of a product or service, can be powerful in building trust. When companies recommend things clearly not in their best interest (i.e. recommending a less expensive offering), incentives become aligned with the customer. This creates trust in company intentions. 

    How to establish aligned incentives using your CX strategy:

    • Have salespeople, account managers and other customer-facing staff encourage customers to provide their feedback, especially any negative feedback they may have.
    • Offer customers simple ways to compare your products or services with those of competitors – take it a step further by allowing customers to provide feedback on competitors in your voice-of-customer surveys. 

Now that we know the five key mechanisms of trust, you might still be asking, “Why does this matter?” Well, research indicates that greater customer trust leads to greater customer loyalty. And we all know greater loyalty can have a big impact on your business. What can you be doing today to boost trust through your CX program?

Amanda Wray

Text analytics can be hard, but does it always have to be?

No quirky title from me today. Rather, I'm going to be straight with you: text analytics can be hard. There are too many different ways to handle unstructured/textual data. People don't use language in clear, concise, consistent ways. Sentiment analysis is often inaccurate. Even with automated tools, human intervention and guidance are still required.

Really, this list could go on and on.

Creating a robust, sustainable, and accurate text analytics program is a challenge – but do we always have to look for that all-encompassing, diamond-in-the-rough-finding program? Instead, could we maybe find a quick, simple, and straightforward method to use our unstructured data? This idea has been floating around at Walker recently, as I'm sure it's been debated in many other companies interested in what their customers have to say. What can we do to simplify our analysis, while still providing valuable customer experience insights?

One possibility is to look at the most common nouns that are appearing in your data set, and then mapping those nouns to a quantitative metric or rating score available. Let's say you measure NPS, for example. You ask customers how likely they are to recommend you, and then you have an open-ended question that asks why the customer provided that rating. Using text analytics software, we can identify what the common nouns and noun phrases are in the data, essentially identifying the main themes being discussed. We can then filter those nouns by the ratings that were provided; for example to look at what Detractors versus Promoters are saying, and if the themes vary.

No manual coding. No taxonomy or rule-set creation. No extensive processing times. Minimal confusion.

Simple? Indeed. Life-changing? Probably not. However, not every single text analytics venture has to change the direction of your company – a pitfall I often see customer experience professionals encountering. Use some of these small insights to inspire an overall understanding of where your customers are coming from. Then, maybe follow up with certain groups individually to get more "layers" to the story. Start small and build from there.