Using Strategic Planning 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, analyzing customer data, and providing them with powerful VoC software to take action in real-time. This series highlights individuals from PeopleMetrics representing these three disciplines.
Title: Director, Client Experience
Explain your role and how you help clients operationalize customer feedback:
The role of my group is to keep clients customer-centric, and always be leading them toward taking the right actions that will achieve their customer experience objectives. We know their business priorities and what they are focusing on so we’re keeping these things top-of-mind as we work out survey design and establish priorities. Our contacts are responsible for managing the needs of many stakeholders in their organization so we help them “reign in” any suggestions that don’t align with what we are trying to achieve.
What part of your work presents the most engaging challenge?
For me, it’s the relationships I get to build with clients. My client contacts care deeply about improving the experience for their customers, and I find a lot of fulfillment in helping them be successful in their roles. When I get those emails with subject lines of “THANK YOU!” that’s the highlight for me.
Tell me about an interesting client problem and how you solved it.
My biggest client is a communications provider and they identified “Making it Easy” as one of their Guiding Principles. They wanted every interaction with the company to be as simple as possible. For customers getting a new service installed or having someone come out to their home to make a repair – we knew quickly from the customer surveys that this process wasn’t easy for customers.
Often companies will just say “give great service” or “make it easy” without explaining to people on the frontlines what that entails. To avoid this, we analyzed customer comments to understand what “easy” means in a home visit. We isolated five things and presented them as a checklist of basic behaviors. Their communications then developed materials for the technician and customer incorporating this. As of March 2013, all technicians carry this checklist and walk through it with customers before closing a ticket. This is combined with more in-depth training nationally, and the initial testing is going very well. We’re already seeing improvements.
Tell me about something cool, clever, or creative that you developed.
We’re always trying to bring focus to projects. It’s not terribly glamorous, but one thing we did was around helping a client team evaluate internal requests. They were being bombarded with requests from internal stakeholders to make changes to the customer experience surveys based on their own individual needs and curiosities. We had already defined our goals for the project and ,a lot of times, these individual requests just didn’t align with what we were trying to achieve or ended up making the feedback process more cumbersome for the customer. We worked with them to create a very simple framework to evaluate requests. It was a set of basic questions like:
- Does it ask for information that we can’t get elsewhere internally?
- Does it meet our customer experience standards?
Like I said, not very glamorous, but it made their lives a lot easier and ensured a consistent customer experience, and that’s what it’s about.
What feature in PeopleMetrics Voice of the Customer technology do you find particularly delightful? Why?
We have always emphasized taking action on customer feedback in real-time, and I’ve seen how Action Alerts can change an organization. Recently, we’ve done a lot to improve this functionality for our high-volume clients by building in a “Claim” functionality which allows people to go into our online tool and identify the customers with whom they’re going to follow up. This frees up inbox space because alerts aren’t getting emailed out every time a customer completes a survey, and it allows managers to be in control of the flow of alerts. Not only does this improve the experience for customers giving feedback, it also improves the experience for our clients who are tasked with follow-up. To me, that’s delightful.
What information sources (blogs, writers, books, etc.) do you go to for inspiration in your work?
I’m currently getting my Master’s in HR so that’s been primary information and inspiration source. My interests have always been in how frontstage and backstage employees impact the customer experience. I often find myself drawing on what I know about recognition programs and employee engagement to think about how to motivate employees to do more of what customers love.
Any final words of advice for people leading the customer experience change in their company?
One of the biggest challenges you will face, whether your company is just starting the customer experience transformation journey or you have been doing it for awhile, is maintaining focus. There are so many things that you can do to improve the customer experience and it’s challenging to sort out which will have the biggest business impact. You need to focus your attention on what must be done now and what can wait for 3 months, 6 months, 1 year. This is all about using what customers are saying. It starts and ends with customer feedback.