It's all about the experience
Today's battleground is Customer Experience (CX): to win in the marketplace, brands need to deliver it in a seamless, consistent and fulfilling way.
Research suggests the rewards for getting CX right are significant (increased customer retention and loyalty); as are the penalties for getting it wrong (customer churn and brand deformation):
- 87% of customers think brands need to put more effort into providing a consistent experience.
- 9 out of 10 buyers will repurchase from companies that give them an excellent experience.
- And those companies that lead in CX grow much faster.
As consumers we expect a quality experience at all times, without a thought as to how big a challenge this can be for businesses to deliver on an ongoing basis and at scale.
And quite honestly, why should we? It’s not our problem.
As customers we want a transparent & authentic relationship with brands: be there when we need them, understand us as individuals (they should - with all the data they collect), and live up to the brand values and promises they extol.
It sounds logical and straightforward.
But many brands are struggling to deliver the ‘perfect’ customer experience day in day out.
Because it is anything but simple.
Customers now interact with brands in many different ways, times and places; in-store, website, social, call centre, chat, SMS, reviews, surveys ... It is increasingly complicated to manage and deliver the optimal experience across every touchpoint of the customer journey.
The solution: try to get as close to customers as they will let you to really understand what they are experiencing first hand.
In order to deliver against their expectations, it’s vital to build a deep understanding of them as people; their mindset, motivations & behaviour.
Help is at hand: there are more than 70 software tools & platforms that help brands tune into the Voice of Customer (VOC).
One of the most prominent enterprise VOC platforms is Medallia.
A couple of weeks ago I popped along to the London leg of the Medallia City Tour to learn about their product roadmap and to see demos of some new features and functionality.
As a big innovator in the space, I was keen to see what Medallia could teach me about the likely evolution of VOC over the next few years.
Four things in particular stood out.
1. Engaging through any channel
In his keynote, Medallia's Chief Product Officer Krish Mantripragada outlined how the company is building the capabilities to help brands capture, collect and comprehend a customer's experience regardless of when, where and how they interact.
Customers have their own preferred channels of communication & engagement: the highest volume channel is now messaging apps.
Krish explained how messaging is exploding with over 5.8bn messaging accounts worldwide and more time spent messaging than any other activity on-line, up y-o-y by a staggering 394%.
In recognition of this, the Medallia Conversations tool allows brands to run real-time conversational surveys via SMS & Facebook Messenger
They can collect in-the-moment feedback using interactive chat bots; and they can also tailor experiences with personalised content and offers.
Additional channels like Apple Business Chat, WeChat, & SalesForce Live Agent are planned over the course of next year.
Beyond messaging, the VOC Anywhere tool allows customers to feed back natively in any connected device or interface e.g. set top box, Alexa, in-flight screen etc.
An API connection to Medallia's platform allows full control of the front-end survey experience but ensures all data flows back into one place to get a comprehensive view of the customer across all channels.
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2. Blending feedback from multiple sources
Krish explained how the Medallia platform can now ‘join the dots’ to build a picture of customer interactions by combining previously siloed data points:
- direct solicited feedback via surveys
- indirect or unsolicited feedback via Facebook and Twitter
- comments and scores from rating & review sites
- behavioural and transactional data about the customer
- observations made by employees about specific customers.
3. Leveraging machine learning for predictive analytics
The product presentation also focused on AI and machine learning, and showcased Medallia's investments in predictive modelling and analytics to provide CX intelligence.
The ambition is to help brands ‘optimise every experience’ by proactively suggesting actions and predicting outcomes of those actions.
Using these tools, employees should be able make better decisions earlier and resolve problems before they come to a head.
4. Integrating with enterprise platforms and workflows
Whilst good collection and analysis tools are essential, the real value in any VOC programme comes from the actions that brands take as a result.
The heart of Medallia's toolbox is its XDP (Experience Data Platform), which acts as a system of record for all experience data.
Using this central data repository, experience profiles can be generated for every customer to drive better personalisation: improved targeting, optimisation and engagement.
Medallia also aims to mobilise employees to become CX champions by ensuring the right intelligence goes to the right people in easy and digestible formats.
Employees can access reports and dashboards through Medallia’s mobile app, which has also been integrated with Workplace by Facebook to improve information sharing and cross-functional working. User engagement rates on the app are apparently the highest of any enterprise software tool.
In summary, it is the brands who invest in robust VOC programmes to optimise the customer experience who will thrive. Those who don’t will struggle.
Medallia's roadmap suggests that omnichannel feedback, multi-source data, predictive analytics and workflow integration will all be key features of tomorrow's VOC platforms.