Measuring the Success of the Digital Experience
Salesforce released the results of its Connected UK Customer Experience research, and a whopping number of survey respondents, 73 percent, to be exact, indicated poor customer service as the reason to avoid purchasing from a company. Moreover, 36 percent said that an inconsistent experience across mobile, online and in-store put them off a brand while 36 percent put them off purchasing due to offers that weren’t relevant to them.
The issue here is not that digital businesses haven’t realized the fact that they can create competitive advantage by putting customers first and managing their journeys. Conversely, by now, we all know it very well. However, the most common struggle is collecting, analyzing, and acting on feedback. In other words, most businesses that primarily focus on customer experience haven’t quite figured out how to measure the success of the experience.
Ben Rhodes, Director of Customer Marketing at Royal Mail, explains this well. “Attribution continues to be a major challenge across marketing channels. Getting the right marketing mix for both digital and offline channels, as well as understanding the impact of earned and paid activity on lead streams remains key in the efficient stimulation of growth.”
There are many various factors behind this challenge, some are generic whereas some are more specific to the organization or industry. Therefore, in this section, I will discuss the most common underlying reasons why organizations still seem to grapple with excelling in customer experience while putting it at the forefront of their operations.
Balancing Financial Outcomes and Customer Satisfaction
Assessing customer experience by only looking through our eyes is unfortunately not possible. Therefore, today’s marketers are supposed to be half artist, half scientist so they can keep the customer engaged with the brand before, during, and after the experience while understanding the data collected to evaluate the contribution of disparate touchpoints throughout the customer journey. First off, this is not an easy task, but, good news, thanks to the advent of technology, marketers are, today, more capable than ever when it comes to collecting data. If collecting data is not the problem, then, what’s the roadblock, you may ask? The short answer is that it’s the matter of the data that businesses mostly rely on. Let me explain.
There are many technology providers, Google, Adobe, and a couple of startups such as BrightFunnel and Bizible - just to name a few, currently working on making their analytics platforms more useful to marketers by utilizing machine learning and other artificial intelligence technologies. The main purpose is to make a shift from the old last-click paradigm as there are so many drawbacks of this method. It essentially gives credit to only consumer's last action before buying something, whereas prior touch points such as email, display impressions, generic search ads and so forth may have also led to the sale. With the same logic, businesses should follow the same suit. Many marketing organizations are a little bit too heavily focused on top-line metric and financial outcome which won’t give a comprehensive insight on whether customers needs and expectations have been met. So should you ignore the financial outcome and just focus on customer satisfaction? Quite the opposite! The trick is finding the sweet spot where these two align. In other words, gain insight on every marketing dollar’s effectiveness across different channels and devices.
Don’t Lose Sight of an End-to-End View
Even if a thing is good, without indulging in it in moderation, it will eventually get to the point that it is no longer good for you. This piece of life advice also applies to marketers when measuring touchpoints. Yes, as just explained, ignoring the prior interactions along a conversion path and only preceding the final touch before a conversion do not paint a holistic picture of consumer behavior as it causes blind spots for marketers. On the other hand, the reading data process doesn’t end when this stage is accomplished. Conversely, at this point, if marketers tried to extract an actionable meaning without connecting dots collected from every touchpoint, the results would portray a fragmented picture instead of a holistic picture of consumer behavior which will again cause blind spots.
The trick is never losing the sight of an end-to-end view. This is exactly why some companies are getting puzzled by the results when they find out that a glut of customers are lost because of poor service while their overall customer satisfaction metrics remain strong, so they suffer from a "detection and response" paradigm.
Some companies greatly manage to assign metrics to some individual service interactions along the customer journey but often miss out on measuring some other touchpoints that have a huge impact on the cumulative customer experience across channels and devices. Therefore, when they measure their metrics and KPIs, things check out but in reality, they keep losing customers.
Close the Loop with Customers
For some organizations, the underlying reason is not even complicated, like these two examples were given. Their missing puzzle piece is a culture that circulates customer feedback.
Even today, there is still a misconception when it comes to who is responsible for customer experience as often this responsibility merely sits on the marketing divisions. However, delivering exceptional, seamless customer experience is only possible when different functions work together. Therefore, it is so important that every department embraces working with a CRM that naturally fits in the way of doing business within the organization. It is imperative to consistently obtain, either explicitly or implicitly, throughout the overall journey rather than just at a point of sale or when the issue-resolution is happening.
To do so, any feedback from the finance process when they are billing to the customer service process when they are solving an escalated issue should be in the system and should take a part in the whole picture. Eventually, the frontline should close the loop with customers while the organization is connecting the feedback to innovation. As all these are happening though, the mindset employed by every member of the organization should always be a continuous improvement of customer experience.
I know that it feels like rocket science at first when you think of all these delicate dynamics in a customer journey but the reality is much more positive than it seems, yet there has never been a more exciting time to be a marketer, especially online. Today, we may have these complicated problems on hand but we equally have very advanced technologies that can integrate semantic technology and information science to give a deep insight across the entire customer journey rather than spanning one or two touchpoints.
Powered by cognitive computing technologies, some platforms can even provide an in-depth understanding of emotions within languages and a customer’s response to them within a marketing scenario, so marketers can capture subtle differences in the language used specifically for reacting to marketing activities. This eventually helps them find what works most effectively to inspire action.
Using state-of-the-art analytical technologies is a prerequisite for thriving in customer experience. Being armed with predictive insights helps organizations uncover hidden opportunities and competitive threats - turning negative customer feedback into promotion, eliminating biased decision-making processes as they take the guesswork out of customer relationship, and gaining a broader view of their positioning against the competitors to name a few. Therefore, having right customer-centric culture and right people with right skill sets saves an organization from becoming tone-deaf to the voice of the customer and eventually, builds a long-lasting customer relationship that is developed around trust and expertise.