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Measure Customer Experience - But Don't Over-Engineer

You have determined for your SME business that you want to improve your customers' experience.But you do not know how to measure it. And you want tangible results fast. And you want to contain the risk.  After all there is nothing more risky than a big venture that promises results only in the far away future...
You have heard about this Internet of Things thing, beacons, customer journeys, sentiment analysis, and predictive, even intent driven analysis. But this all seems a bit big and daunting.
You ask yourself: How to go ahead? And how do I measure success?
Many companies, especially bigger ones, already have a voice of the customer (VoC) program, which is a good start. Not to be gotten wrong, there are all sorts of challenges with VoC programs. Getting insufficient replies, data that doesn't really help, data that covers only one single channel, etc. etc.
But then a VoC program is a very good start, if kept simple, and also consistently available across channels. It again is about thinking big while acting small. Key is to
  • Ask the questions immediately in context with the activity you refer to, e.g. on exiting the store or the web site
  • Keep the number of questions for your customers very low and to make answering them extremely easy.
  • Correlate the customer replies with information that you get from your employees.
  • Lastly: Act on the results. Nothing is worse than asking customers and employees for feedback and then doing nothing with it.
Keeping the numbers very low while retaining the ability to get meaningful data is a stretch. There should not be more than 4, in a way that they can be displayed on a mobile phone, ideally without any scrolling. One can do with two questions to get actionable data, but there are two more that should add enough insight to be seriously considered when measuring your customer experience.
And it means simple click or drag answers, e.g. on a sliding scale, or just yes/no.
In a store scenario deliver the questions right after the transaction at the PoS, or on exiting the store. Tie it in to your loyalty/membership program and offer your customers an incentive. This combination offers the possibility of increasing the number of replies, which will improve the accuracy of the measurement. Of course it also increases the importance that you should give your program. It also ties the results to a location. Platforms like Epikonic offer this possibility. You can and should do the same on your e-commerce platform to augment the site log data, and in the up-and-coming chat applications that offer rich communication with brands and that will play more of a role in the future.
However, the results that you get by asking the customers only show one side of the coin. It is equally important to ask your employees.
Regularly. Frequently.
Employees are providing the other side of the measure. If customers are not happy then this is often due to process issues with the (possibly correspondingly disgruntled) personnel that may spend more time than necessary with activities that do not help the sale. Ask the employees that are working on the processes that touch the part of the business that you look at. They are the people on the ground who are experiencing the day-to-day life and they regularly have more insight than HQ personnel. Employee's answers to two simple questions will help analysing this.
By now you are probably wondering: Which questions, and how to measure?So, here are my recommendations:

Customer questions

  1. Ho would you rate today's experience? Put this on a scale from 0 - 10. This gives sufficient detail and nicely maps into the common 5 star model. It is also the same scale that the Net Promoter Score uses.
  2. How likely are you to recommend us? Yes, NPS. It is a criticised model but still holds good value. And an experience rating does not make an active supporter.
  3. Did you achieve your goal? This is a Yes/No question and needs to be asked in combination with
  4. What was your goal? Make it a multiple choice question. Good reply candidates are
  5.      - Purchase
         - Product comparison/information
         - Browsing
         - Reclamation/Complaint

Employee questions

  1. What are your biggest pain points?
  2. What change would help you most to improve your ability to help customers?
Put enough emphasis on the first one. It might be the easier one to achieve and also yield considerable results.
Getting this infrastructure in place will bring you onto a good road, especially when combined with already existing data on purchases, web site click throughs, abandoned carts, reactions to campaigns, and more. However, it is not all. From this stable base you can go on to include the sentiments coming in from Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, TripAdvisor, your branded community, blogs, and what not, plus any additional touch point that is there. These will increasingly have the sensors that supply you with a constant stream of pre- and post purchase data.
Including the totally connected individual that we know from Minority Report. But that is not so desirable ...
Again: Do not over-engineer the beginnings. Think Big, Act Small, and keep the end in mind, and measure continuously.

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