In today's business, the customer matters more than anything. Novel concept, right? For something that has always been true, it sure has become more true in the last few years. The observable rise of what we call the “super empowered customer” has positively changed how businesses view their customer retention efforts.
From social media to texting and word of mouth, people have more channels than ever to tell their friends about their experiences.
With unlimited resources, people have more channels than ever to find information about companies.
Because we live in the age of the super-empowered customer, it is no longer an option to rely on delayed and indirect results from market research and mystery shopping. Instead, companies need to take advantage of what we call the “Sample Size of One."
Think about it this way: When a customer has a bad experience with a business, does it matter to them that their feedback is part of a sample size and will only be addressed if the issue continues to happen to others? Absolutely not. Only two things really matter to customers who give feedback:
1. Their feedback is heard and acted upon.
2. They receive a timely response.
That's it. Unfortunately, these two simple wishes are rarely granted, because individual voices are drowned out in a homogeneous survey sample. Disappearing behind graphs and numbers was not what they had in mind when they offered their feedback.
Customer loyalty is up for grabs. So how can companies capitalize? Treat every customer like they are their own sample size. This means listening to them, valuing their feedback, making them feel heard, and implementing new technologies to solve their problems in real-time. Here's how your Voice of the Customer program should evolve to keep up with the super empowered customer:
Give feedback options in the mode customers want. A recent IDC report revealed that smartphones are now outselling computers, highlighting the necessity of building a strong mobile feedback strategy to keep up with customer feedback trends. Phone IVR (Interactive Voice Response), SMS messaging, and the mobile-optimized Web are channels that businesses should use to capture information about the guest experience now that mobile has become an integral part of everyday life.
Keep it short
Consumers are bombarded by requests to provide feedback through surveys, so employ shorter surveys with unstructured, open-ended comment options to help avoid survey fatigue. With shorter surveys and open-ended responses, you need better analytics to extract insights. Modern text analytics technology ensures that every word, phrase and theme within every customer comment is correlated with existing intelligence for root-cause analysis and can be tailored to specific company initiatives.
Empower the front lines
The reality is that if you care about your customers, you need somebody who can respond in real-time to their issues and concerns. Feedback doesn't belong solely in an executive corner office, where months-old data is dissected and analyzed only to find out that it’s no longer relevant to your current challenges. Instead, businesses need to start where the information will make an immediate impact. Local managers and front-line representatives must receive the real-time intelligence to make vital tactical adjustments daily.
It's impossible to treat customers like a Sample Size of One when no one is in place to listen and respond to them. This is where the market is heading -- and fast. Go out and embrace the super-empowered customer.