As a global business development executive and self-professed data geek, I’m no stranger to leveraging feedback and user insights from customer experience data to attract, engage and retain more customers.
My experience has taught me customers will hand you a roadmap to success – all you have to do is listen and take action. One of the best ways to uncover those juicy customer insights is with a proactive customer-listening program.
While most businesses monitor a variety of KPIs, gathering routine data intelligence is very different from rigorously monitoring – and mining – the actual customer experience (CX).
The purpose of a customer-listening program is to observe how your customers use your products or services to identify missed opportunities, friction and other insights that could help drive innovation and growth.
The most significant return on investment in CX listening isn’t fixing bugs or revealing customer-service issues, although you’ll undoubtedly uncover some. The real value lies in generating completely new ideas that could help your company leapfrog the competition by delivering product enhancements, lowering costs, improving adoption and decreasing churn.
If your organization still relies on old-fashioned feedback forms and post-purchase surveys as the primary tools for gathering customer insights, you’re only getting part of the story. Here are seven ways to enhance your customer-listening program and gain a competitive edge in 2022:
1) Focus on actionable insights with maximum impact
Customer-listening programs require a strategic lens. A focused, forward-thinking approach results in insights that answer burning questions such as: How can we beat the competition? What can we do to increase customer loyalty? Which behaviors and actions consistently predict user success? And most importantly, how can we keep clients engaged and successful as we innovate?
While scanning the horizon for clever ideas, remember to look for common frustrations, service gaps, and other patterns that you can address head-on to show customers you’re paying attention. For example, if your data reveals three key actions that make customers 80 percent more likely to churn, it’s time to do some deeper listening to determine the best churn-prevention steps.
2) Listen with the intent to act, and then respond
It’s no surprise customers prefer brands that are ethical, empathetic, and responsive. The simple act of listening to your customers isn’t enough, however. If you don’t act on what you learn, you’re wasting a golden opportunity to build a deeper relationship with users by showing how much you value their feedback.
Recent CX research by Alida reveals that 95 percent of consumers are willing to help brands improve their customer experience (CX), but 75 percent believe brands are simply not listening. Don’t be one of those companies. Establish a clear internal process for following up on feedback and taking action in timely, meaningful ways. Being proactive and responsive is a simple and effective way to build trust and brand loyalty and, in the long run, will create a more resilient customer base.
3) Get comfortable with being conversational
Technology has changed how people interact with brands forever, and during the pandemic, the desire for in-app and live-chat support has skyrocketed. The instant gratification of real-time chatting and social media has replaced asynchronous email exchanges, especially while on the go. Your customers communicate with (and about) your company 24/7. Facilitating those two-way conversations is a “must-do” for every business.
Written, synchronous communication is both easier to monitor and it’s what your customers want. A recent Simplr study found the number of consumer brands offering online chat as a customer-service channel jumped by 16 percent in less than six months, increasing from 35 percent in January 2021 to 51 percent in May 2021. If you aren’t embracing conversational-commerce tactics to grow, you are missing out. These one-on-one conversations are perfect for making personalized recommendations and offers to people who seek out and connect with your brand regularly.
4) Free products and services offer priceless data insights
The most successful digital companies closely monitor KPIs to drive revenue and growth, but surprisingly few leverage the depth of information provided through day-to-day interactions within a given tool or application. Every time a customer logs in, they reveal something important about their goals, habits, preferences and interests. Monitoring how prospects or customers use and customize your tools gives you a window into how well they understand and value their features.
Discounted, free, and “freemium” trial periods for online services also offer a goldmine of CX information, and customers are most likely to opt-in to being monitored at this level in exchange for access to your services. There’s also a rich opportunity to incentivize customers to provide more granular information by offering them higher tiers of services in return for additional feedback.
5) Superusers give you superpowers
Superusers are critical to identify and monitor because they’re often stretching and stress-testing your products in ways you have never even considered. For example, instead of paying higher fees for a more feature-rich experience, many companies in Latin America opt to have a full-time employee customize the lowest tier of a software service. Understanding what customers are trying to replicate is invaluable to establishing a local pricing strategy and meeting hidden customer needs. Imagine the power of having superusers light the way to future features and integration options. Or what you could create or fix for superusers that would lead to higher satisfaction for all customers.
Superusers are ripe for cross-selling, upselling and other tailored offers, and listening to them drives innovation. They’re also ideal sources to tap into for in-depth customer interviews and focus groups when you want even more input to help make future product enhancements.
6) Dig for golden nuggets using search data
Most executives don’t review what customers search for on their site or within the product itself. Search logs are a treasure trove of opportunities to fine-tune your content and sales pitch. This is true across your global customer base and can help you optimize for performance while providing a roadmap to a better customer experience.
Search logs are also a valuable way to determine what your customers want that you don’t have – or, worse, what you have but didn’t surface. For example, a U.S. consumer looking for sunglasses on Amazon might begin their search using the word “sunglasses.” In contrast, a Colombian shopper on Amazon is more likely to search for sunglasses using the branded term “Ray-Ban,” and they will have an entirely different experience as a result.
7) Emerging markets offer even more customer-listening opportunities
If you dream of taking your business global one day, tech-savvy emerging markets such as India and Latin America can be an ideal place to test-drive your digital customer experience while learning about local currencies, languages and preferences that are relevant for launching your business on the world stage.
Latin America is now the fastest-growing e-commerce region in the world, and Brazil offers a highly conversational, price-sensitive market full of sophisticated shoppers who are eager to purchase from international brands and services. Their behaviors and buying patterns closely mimic U.S.-based Millennials. Global companies that invest in engaging with and listening to Latin American customers will surely gain valuable local insights that can deliver a phenomenal return on investment for their operations around the planet.