Why is customer experience management most effective when utilizing recurring themes in customer communication?

July 5, 2021
Jani Jokela

Customer experience management is challenging when you don't know why the customer gave a particular rating for the service. Also, there might not be broader comments in the open feedback field and if there is, it is time consuming to read all open feedback fields, which your company might receive thousands or even tens of thousands per day. This leaves the overall picture of the customer experience missing.

In this blog post, I’ll start with an example of a customer encounter situation in telephone customer service, which is most likely familiar to many. In addition, I will explain why the customer experience shouldn't be developed merely on the basis of numerical indicators, but utilize all customer communication and encounters as a fuel for customer understanding. By understanding the content of customer communications, significant business savings can be achieved in addition to more satisfied customers.

Imagine the situation ...

The service you are using is not working as it should and you are looking for a customer service phone number from the service provider's website. Each incoming call to customer service is an expense that's calculated by the service provider. To control customer contacts, a phone number is not the first thing that comes up on a website.

Once you have found the number, you start queueing to wait for service. Customer service monitors queuing times in real time and allocates the workforce according to total demand based on previous months. But hey, now you can get through quickly!

You tell that there has been a problem with the login for the service and therefore you were not able to view the billing status. A friendly customer service advisor tells you that there have been other calls in the last few days about the login issues.

The advisor starts clarifying the status of your billing. You’ll soon hear that the billing for the previous month is complete, even though it was supposed to include a 30% campaign discount. The customer service advisor is sorry about the situation but is unable to make any changes to the invoice.

This annoys you more than usual and you decide to terminate the service immediately. You tell the customer services advisor that you will switch to a competing company solution. Still, a very friendly customer service advisor makes the termination and apologizes for what happened.

After the call, the customer service advisor must report the reason for the call before the telephone system closes the customer information and moves on to the next call. The reason for the call is: the termination of the service.

Thirty minutes after the call, you receive a message on your phone: “How likely would you recommend our service to a friend or colleague?”. A scale from 0 to 10 and the possibility to give open feedback, so familiar to most the NPS survey. The previous phone conversation wasn't very successful, so you give the number 6. However, you are too tired to write an explanation on open field, because you just explained the problems on the phone so the company is well known about the matter.

Customer experience management with numerical metrics only

The Net Promoter Score, more commonly known as NPS, measures a customer's willingness to recommend the product or service to a friend, for instance. NPS has long been the most widely used measure of the customer experience. Often, NPS is the metric that is also monitored in boardrooms and management teams and to which performance bonuses can be linked.

Alongside the NPS there are many other metrics such as CES (Customer Effot Score), CSAT (Customer Satisfaction Score) and EVI (Emotional Value Index). Especially the Finnish Feedbackly's EVI is by far the most advanced of these metrics. 

When done correctly, measuring at different stages of the customer path gives a good overall picture of the customer experience.

As the phone example showed, a post-contact survey is not the most customer-centric way to gather information. The customer has just had a conversation with the customer service advisor and now the customer should rewrite the experience open again. Of course, a company can always be content that it got an NPS number 6 without understanding what that number is based on or what steps should be taken to change it.

Developing and leading customer experience through numerical metrics alone is at worst misleading and based on opinions rather than knowledge.

The customer experience is in the centre of digital services

In digital services, the user experience plays a very important role. People get easily tired of hard-to-use services. International services such as Netflix, Spotify, Uber and Airbnb are constantly setting the bar higher in terms of service availability.

Unfortunately the same cannot be said for willingness to recommend measuring. Fred Reichheld developed Net Promoter Score in 1993 and from 2003 onwards, it became known throughout the world by Bain & Company and Satmetrix. Fortunately for all of us, designers don't have to live on an NPS number alone. It would require immense willpower and imagination to squeeze customer understanding out of the mere number. 

Read more about NPS and its challenges from here: 5 Ways How AI Is Revolutionizing NPS Feedback Analysis

NPS has its time and place, I won't deny that. Especially the open feedback collected during the NPS measurement is very valuable, because at its best, it sums up the disappointment or success experienced by the customer in an effective way. With regard to open feedback, it is important to be able to process the feedback systematically and as objective as possible. There are great success stories of this in Aiwo's customer base.

As the number of feedbacks increases to thousands, most of the working time goes to processing these feedbacks. It's almost impossible to form an objective overall picture without an effective tool such as Aiwo. If one person’s work time has to be sacrificed to process only feedback, it is clearly more profitable to get a cost-effective tool to replace the manual work.

Genuine customer centricity generates significant business benefits

The most significant reason for not developing your services based on feedback alone is that customer surveys are not a customer-centric way to understand the customer experience. Yes, this is a bold statement, but imagine yourself in the shoes of the person in the example above and think about how much you yourself enjoy answering the post-call surveys?

And yet, how much does the numerical feedback alone help you understand the overall situation of you as a customer and customer service in general? Do you know what steps need to be taken to decrease customer service costs?

Customer centricity in the 2020s is about understanding the needs of the customer at the moment the customer interacts with the company. Whether it’s a phone call, chat, email or feedback, all communication should be utilized as a fuel for customer understanding.

In this way, a win-win situation is achieved from both the customer's and company's point of view. The customer doesn't have to tell separately what went well or badly. Business developers and designers, on the other hand, have a constantly updated real-time understanding of the customer situation and, in customer service, a snapshot of the root causes of contacts that burden customer service.

The development step is huge, especially in customer service, where people rely heavily on call logs. As could be seen from the call example, one call log is just a scratch on the surface of reality. Especially when the most common call record is “other”.

Therefore, the possible investment decision must take into account that the chosen solution is able to meet all the above-mentioned use cases. Otherwise, the solution is offering a solution to the problems of past decades.

From expense item to business value

Our customer Jan Rosnell from MTV expressed it perfectly: "All of a sudden we have Aiwo, and we can take all the input from customers and turn that into the valuable data." Before Aiwo, analyzing the feedback and other customer communications was perceived as laborious and at the same time expensive.

As I already mentioned in the beginning of this blog, every customer contact is an expense. When we understand the contents of customer communications on a large scale, we are able to utilize them extensively for business use.

The most difficult task for teams working on customer experience is to highlight the value of their own operations. The importance of the customer experience is well understood in companies, but at the same time it is perceived as a thing that is somewhat difficult to grasp. Also, its link to measurable business value is perceived as challenging to find.

In the future, we will open up in a more detailed level blog posts on how this value can be clearly highlighted as metrics. A sneak peek for a few clear topics can be found below:

  • The share of failure demand in total demand. Failure demand is the proportion of customer contacts that burden customer service without bringing in revenue. Identifying and reducing failure demand is becoming one of the fastest ways to decrease customer service costs.
  • Increasing customer retention. An understanding of the content of customer communications on a large scale enables an effective understanding of the factors influencing the customer exit. In addition, Aiwo can return the analyzed contents of each contact to the customer's systems.
  • Connecting the business meter, such as NPS, to revenue. What is the value of a one-score change for a company?

I promise to personally help you if this blog piqued your interest. So let's get in touch! Book a meeting from a calendar below to meet and talk more: