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Creating inspired experiences
Investing in a customer experience management platform is a significant investment both financially and, if done correctly, in commitment of company logistics and personnel. To maximize your ROI and ensure your customer experience (CX) program has the best possible impact on your organization, there are some minimum requirements to be met, for both what your customer experience management software and your potential customer experience partner provide. In addition, how you set and measure metrics, objectives, and KPIs at every level of your organization—from the individual store all the way to the C-level—can influence how successful your overall CX program efforts are.
A complete customer experience management solution needs to have three basic elements to be sure it has the capacity to be effective. With little time to waste between setting expectations and documenting ROI, you need to ensure your program is set up with three key aspects to get off on the right foot: 1) comprehensive data collection, 2) a strategy to set and measure against business objectives, and 3) a methodology to uncover and apply insights that drive ROI.
From social media to mobile apps to in-person customer interactions, customer journeys have gotten increasingly complicated with the advent of more ways to interact with brands. It is crucial to have customer experience management software that includes end-to-end customer engagement and measurement capabilities across digital platforms able to work with the data as a whole and translate it to identify patterns, draw attention to areas of improvement for a variety of stakeholders, and deliver insights that help improve results.
This includes collection methods representing a blend of both physical and digital communication channels, and efforts to gather both active feedback, information you ask for, and passive feedback, which is submitted by customers voluntarily at listening posts placed along the customer journey. This customer feedback is considered alongside online reputation management data and brand research to get a holistic view of consumer sentiment, brand positioning, + market share.
Finally, experience data from customer support and contact centers—along with employee experience (EX) feedback—should contribute to the overall data mix. These additional touchpoints where customer-employee interactions happen, and feedback directly from your employees themselves, help contribute to service-recovery efforts, loyalty-building, and an on-the-ground assessment of the customer and employee experiences.
This mix of data is a complex and rich web of interactions, and a robust customer experience platform is necessary to properly collect and catalog as much of this data as possible. It’s through analysis of this data that you’ll be able to contribute to identifying trends, finding trouble-spots, and prescribing action to improve operations–and the bottom line.
The issue with having a comprehensive and thorough system to collect customer and employee data through the complete customer journey is that it’s a lot of data.
This is where having the right metrics and a robust, intuitive analytics platform comes into play. With today’s data streams, the right software—which includes leading technologies like AI-driven text analytics and machine learning based technologies—is necessary to parse the mountain of data collected into usable data points that can be measured to drive insights and prescribe action.
But let’s step back for a moment.
Even before you start analyzing your data, you need to know what you’re measuring, why you’re measuring it, and the objectives you’re looking to achieve—ideally ones connected to eventually realizing a quantitative ROI from your CX program. This is where establishing a solid and intentional set of CX metrics comes into play.
CX leaders understand the importance of demonstrating financial impact, and with more than half of leaders expected to connect CX investments to financial benefits in less than a year, time is of the essence. A key part of maintaining focus in a CX program and being able to clearly demonstrate ROI is intentionally establishing a core set of metrics that clearly + deliberately point to specific business objectives.
To ensure your CX program and the resulting insights start with a solid foundation, it’s a best practice to align your CX insights objectives with at least one of these business outcomes:
For more detail on these objectives and to see how major brands like Wendy’s and Tractor Supply Co. applied this outcomes-driven approach for success, read our blog: Prove the ROI of your customer experience program by aligning insights with business results
It’s important to remember the diverse metrics you use to evaluate data and measure progress towards your goals represent necessary signposts along the way in your journey—not all of them are a measurement of your overall progress or performance. Top-level metrics—like Overall Satisfaction, Net Promoter Score (NPS), Customer Effort Score (CES), and others—can be used as KPIs placed in the context of strategic business objectives. While essential, KPIs should be primarily used to map against established business objectives, not to determine your path forward.
With a short amount of time and a preponderance of data, it can be tempting to focus on only tracking these high-level KPIs, but to do so is detrimental. A mix of metrics at a variety of levels is necessary to provide a fuller picture of what is and isn’t working in the customer experience and for business and operational performance. To rely only on your top-level metrics is akin to attempting to find your way in a cluttered room with your eyes closed.
While your high-level objectives are set for the overarching, ROI-based expectations for a CX program, setting short-term goals and establishing the right metrics and measuring against them is essential to ramping up a CX program. An objective-gated, three-stage framework is a best practice for setting expectations and driving intermediary steps at the right time to scale up to a well-oiled, ROI-delivering CX program.
The first step is to facilitate and encourage organization-wide engagement with your CX program to help improve buy-in among team members and get the organization on the same page. Big-picture, company-wide initial areas for focus (AFFs) in this stage will help get everyone moving in the same direction, and program visibility along with a high volume of data collection can help build confidence in the endeavor.
Democratize the data by empowering and encouraging users to check results regularly and share insights directly with frontline workers. Get your team members engaged and on-board with the program and its objectives. Remember: a CX program is a tool to see where improvement is necessary and how to move towards goals, not a cudgel for underperformers.
In stage two, you can transition to starting to analyze your data against different in-company metrics and, eventually, KPIs. The data collected so far can be used to establish benchmarks across organizational groups to help establish guideposts and different levels of performance. This ongoing analysis should be used to create dynamic AFFs specialized for different units based on how they are performing against metrics and based on a measure’s importance, store performance, and company performance.
This is where data, metrics, and insights become particularly important. Improvement efforts and results are kicked into high gear as the focus is on specific, metrics-informed issues, and your team members—and stakeholders—across the organization will begin to see improvement in metrics from their actions.
As you see the results of your efforts on dynamic and specified AFFs, now is the time to start measuring against your ROI-focused, upper-level metrics and KPIs to start establishing the overall effect on the bottom line. To help boost the effort to show financial impact, drive growth by focusing on lower performers instead of across-the-board improvements, sharing best practices from higher performers to help drive growth.
This is the opportunity to do a gut-check to see the overall effect of the program and where adjustments might be necessary. It’s essential to be sure your CX program is driving change—not just data collection—and the focus is on using your data, metrics, and insights to address problem areas and see where you can improve the bottom line.
You’re collecting data from across your organization and the whole customer journey. You’ve established a slate of ROI-focused objectives and a set of metrics to measure progress against them. You have a plan for setting and adjusting goals along your way to a fully functional CX program your team is engaged with.
Among the most crucial—and still missing—ingredients is a CX platform and an insight-delivering partner helping to make it happen.
Data sourced out of everything from voice conversations to website-delivered messages needs to mined and catalogued. Metrics and objectives need to be measured against for a variety of stakeholders needing different breakdowns. And you need actionable insights with the help of analysts who can translate mountains of data into clear paths to action.
SMG is a different kind of CX partner. We’ve found many brands simply don’t have the capabilities or the CX teams in place necessary to manage and implement the extent of the logistics necessary to truly capitalize on even the best customer experience management software.
In contrast to other customer experience management platforms requiring clients to add headcount or pay for services to learn how to maintain the platform and evolve to achieve business goals, our unique offering lies in our combination of platform and services, or what we call “Software with a Service” (SwaS). This approach has helped us to be recognized as a Visionary in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant in the Voice of the Customer category for two consecutive years. Here’s what makes SMG different:
SMG combines an industry-leading customer experience software with the key differentiator of world-class services. Our team of experts provides “always on” engagement along with implementation + change management support from the right people, with seasoned expertise earned from helping hundreds of global brands drive results. Our ability to deliver outcomes-focused insights and strategic program guidance saves our clients from having to worry about added labor for day-to-day administrative tasks—saving time, energy, + money.
We’ve helped hundreds of clients apply our SwaS program offering to get better results from their efforts. Some of our client success stories include Tractor Supply Co. seeing 130% in comp sales year over year, Wendy’s increasing total sales by 8%, and the UK-based pharmacy and retailer Boots seeing a 31% increase in customer spend through CX-driven process improvements.
In the Forrester Wave™, it was observed that “[SMG] reference customers all cite the relationship and partnership as why they selected SMG, but that is not why they stay with the vendor. Rather, they highlight that it knows how to execute a sustainable survey program and has been top notch when it comes to executing, protecting data integrity, and helping avoid survey fatigue.”
Our program effectiveness is also reflected in recent industry accolades, which include recognitions as a Leader in the Forrester Wave™: Customer Feedback Management Platforms, a two-time Visionary in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Voice of the Customer, a Leader in the G2 Grid Report for Experience Management, and a Vertical Specialist Leader in the Omdia Market Radar in AI-enabled Experience Management Platforms. Not to mention, among our client roster, we count 85% of the top 20 restaurants in Nation’s Restaurant News, 75% of the top 20 concepts in QSR, and 30% of the top 20 retailers from the National Retail Federation.
Selecting a customer experience management software program and provider is a significant investment that can make an organization-wide difference, and SMG is a market-leader with the credentials to guide your company to improved business results and a serious return on investment. To get a scope of the kind of difference and return you could expect, take a look at this Total Economic Impact™ Of the smg360® Customer Experience (CX) Solution report from Forrester, and reach out at smg.com/contact-us to learn how our SwaS model can help move your business forward.
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