Using Insights to Operationalize Customer Feedback
At PeopleMetrics we help clients derive value from customer feedback in three ways: helping design and guide their customer experience strategy, gathering and analyzing customer data, and providing them with powerful VoC software to take action on feedback in real-time. This series highlights individuals from PeopleMetrics representing these three disciplines and how their group is responsible for operationalizing feedback.
Name: Chris White
Title: Director, Insights
Explain your role and how you help clients operationalize customer feedback:
I lead the Insights team at PeopleMetrics. We are in charge of identifying the most important feedback we gather from our client’s customers, synthesizing it, and then presenting it in a way that helps our clients understand and take appropriate action. We set the table for operationalizing actions by clarifying areas our clients should be focusing on.
What part of your work presents the most engaging challenge?
Surveying customers, like any other feedback mechanism, has its flaws. Our job is to gain a deeper understanding of a respondent’s point of view based on a couple of quantitative questions that they most likely answered in 30 seconds with a muted teleconference in the background. I really enjoy the search for a needle in a haystack. As a college student I considered psychology as a profession, and this feels close at times. People aren’t always good at communicating their feelings, and we recognize that there is a powerful emotional component to the customer experience, so we try to understand their feelings using the feedback they’ve shared.
Tell me about an interesting client problem and how you solved it.
A client of ours launched their customer feedback program with the intention of evaluating the rep-customer relationships. As we were presenting our research findings, a member of their executive team and their CTO were both surprised to note the number of surveys giving feedback on the website and citing it as being a source of their problems. Because the focus of the program was on customer service, this feedback wasn’t being shared with the department that needed it most. This uncovered the need to share these systemic insights throughout the company.
Our solution was to create a form of text analytics that would code open-ended customer feedback and automatically ship it to the appropriate department. It was great seeing audiences like website and logistics that weren’t previously engaged with the program get a taste for what customer feedback could do for them.
Tell me about something cool, clever, or creative that you developed.
I’ll give you an example around survey design. We have a client who internally had this theory that their customers were very price-oriented. Our theory, of course, is that there’s a value to the customer experience so the organization is able to overcome this price sensitivity by delivering a great experience. We ask a question on the survey, “Please select the statement(s) that best describe why you choose to place your order from XYZ company. Please select all that apply.” What I did was create a variable that first grouped the “why” items into categories (people, convenience, product, price, etc.) that would identify a customer based on a pattern of responses.
What I found was that more engaged customers recognized the full value of what our client was delivering – all of the functional and emotional categories. Whereas clients that were On-the-Fence or Actively Disengaged were more likely to have selected our client based on functional aspects alone like product selection or price. Now it’s a marketing issue, right? Some customers got the value proposition and some didn’t. The challenge wasn’t, “How do we reduce prices?” the challenge is now, “How do we demonstrate to more of our customers the full value of doing business with us?”
What feature in PeopleMetrics Voice of the Customer software do you find particularly delightful?
I get to do a lot of cool analytical stuff, but my favorite feature is still the Targeted Comment Report I mentioned above. It’s based on a rather simple functionality of our Hub that creates filtered lists. It has flexibility and simplicity that allows us to build custom reports that are highly targeted, searchable, and populate in real time. These reports add a lot of value for clients because they are highly shareable (unlike a cumbersome strategic report.)
So, for example, say you’re a General Manager of a restaurant and you want to know what your guests are saying about the co-branded Starbucks coffee you carry. It’s really easy for you to run a search for this and bring up all instances where guests are mentioning Starbucks. We have a restaurant client that often uses this particular feature to test new product offerings. So instead of having to outright ask guests, “Hey, what do think of item x?” You are able to find out if the item is actually “comment worthy.” It’s a more natural process.
What new developments are you seeing PeopleMetrics clients using that may be useful going forward?
For our tenured B2B clients we’ve starting looking at how repeat survey takers have changed their Engagement since previous surveys. I’m hoping to do this on a larger scale and in a way that could really impact their customer experience improvement actions. We gather individual level feedback, and preach individual level action-taking, so why not individual level analysis? There is potential for deep insights here, and it’s a new way of asking what is working and not working in customer experience.