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Customer Experience Analytics: 25 Expert Tips & Best Practices


The Team at CallMiner

August 13, 2019

Young business man working on the tablet of the future , select the virtual screen: Customer experience
Young business man working on the tablet of the future , select the virtual screen: Customer experience

Customer experience analytics describes a means to find and collect information about prospects and customers, and how that data is analyzed. Using customer experience (CX) analytics properly can yield a range of benefits, including:

  • Highlighting problem areas within the sales and marketing procedures
  • Finding ways to better serve customers (product updates, new features, etc.)
  • Improve sales copy and onboarding language to improve retention and repeat business
  • Insight into brand perception

There are no shortage of articles and tools surrounding the topic of customer experience analytics. If your business has yet to seriously track key CX metrics, it can be tough to know where to begin. Doing customer experience analytics right requires organizations to:

To help you get leverage customer experience analytics, we’ve rounded up valuable tips and best practices from leading customer experience experts. The tips and quotes below are listed in no particular order and include links to the original source material and (where available) social media links so you can follow the experts you find most valuable.

1. Know how to find the right tools. “Now that we understand what customer experience analytics are and why they’re important, how do we get them? Well, in order to get CX analytics and data, we need the right tool.

“This tool should provide our team with useful data and abilities such as:

  • Real-time reporting across multiple channels of business
  • Predictive analysis and data capabilities
  • Seamless transitions across various methods of contact
  • A consistent personalized experience
  • Insights into a customer’s journey and behavior
  • Constantly updated real-time data available to team members across every channel of business.
  • Create, manage and report on historical data” – Troy McNall, What is Customer Experience Analytics?, VHT; Twitter: @vhtcx 

2. Make sure your data is telling the truth. “Activity statistics are derived through the use of pre-defined or targeted user groups surveys or reviews, cookies, banners, html email, adware and spyware.

“Predefined groups are used by Nielson NetRatings to produce commercial guidelines for internet design. They include recommendation of functionality, content design and creation and accessibility. Commonly, internet experts are used to assess websites, they perform heuristic evaluations based upon defined criteria. This method is highly favored in commercial arenas as it provides absolutes. An unfortunate aspect of this sort of evaluation is a level of condescension is required to dumb down the findings to allow for non-technical usage of the internet. While this kind of study may produce insights into professional aspirations for internet usage it says very little about mass consumption. The motivation for this kind of study is consultancy or publication fees. The use of this sort of data to describe national or global interactions is highly suspect.

“Targeted user groups are used to perform ethnographic reviews commonly in users’ offices or homes that study interactions based upon goals, walkthroughs or scenarios. This type of study is highly effectual in producing notional interaction behaviour. Until recently the use ethnographic reviews has been associated with a response to an existing website rather than the underlying philosophy or ethos.” – Karl Smith, Do #eCommerce #analytics prove #customer #affiliation?, Karl Smith; Twitter: @UserExperienceU

3. Relationships are the ultimate differentiator. “Michael Marchand, global director, chief customer office−commercial, customer loyalty for Dell EMC, shared a quote from a Dell EMC customer on a recent visit to Boston.

“’People do business with people and with companies that have a soul,’ the customer said.

“That was the theme of Marchand’s session titled, ‘Building a Better B2B & B2G Customer Experience with Advanced Analytics,’ Wednesday at the 10th annual Loyalty Expo.

“’Customer relationships will be the ultimate differentiator,’ Marchand said, adding that B2G refers to Business to Government.

“But, according to Forrester, 81 percent of firms have immature customer experience management programs; 89 percent will compete mainly on experience; and 68 percent of customer experience professionals anticipate customers will use online.

“Marchand told attendees that invisible changes to B2B and B2G customers are great for strengthening relationships.

“’Our job is to champion the customer across the board,’ Marchand said, adding a list of best practices:

“Listen First:

4. There’s a difference between experience and service. “Even the most experienced marketers confuse the customer experience with customer service. They’re also an important cog of the matrix – defining them initially is key:

  • Customer service is an action performed in reaction to a customer comment, request, complaint or question. Customer service is performed once you have a customer, and it is part of your customer retention strategy.
  • Customer experience is everything you can do proactively to attract a prospective customer, as well as to promote general good will about your business once your customer enters the funnel. The experience is engagement in every form, not just public relations.

“The days of guerilla marketing are over. You can no longer get away with sneaky or deceptive marketing tactics; today customers are savvy. You no longer ‘own’ your message; commerce transacts in a democratized world. We live in a world where the customer has just as much weight as you do when it comes to influencing purchase paths. Storytelling is good for your brand, but having the customer join you in the engagement matrix is far more powerful.” – Marsha Collier, Human Connections with Your Customers through the Marketing Experience Matrix, Marsha Collier’s Musings; Twitter: @MarshaCollier

5. Pre-planning the tech is a crucial piece of the puzzle. “QoS-Quality of Service (analytics) and QoE-Quality of Experience (user satisfaction) are tightly intertwined in an ever challenging and complex environment of networks, devices, mobile and applications. Bandwidth is often considered the cause for jitter, round trip delays, echo, crosstalk and noisy calls.

“As a technical professional and integrator you are faced with planning in advance what the problems will be and providing instant solutions when the C-level calls to complain. The key issue is having tools that when the CXO calls complaining about having a terrible call with a customer you need a better answer than – ‘I don’t have any idea.’” – Evan Kirstel, QoS vs QoE, Linkedin; Twitter: @evankirstel

6. Make sure to make room for personalization. “We need to move away from process standardization and towards experience personalization. The only way we can do that is by starting to move away from segmenting customers by circumstance and towards categorizing customers by need.

“Here’s a simple 5 step framework to help you achieve this:

“Understand: Work to understand your customer’s true needs, not wants. Describe your customers the way you would describe your best friends.

“Categorize: Make different categories based on who your customers are as people and what their needs are.

“Strategize: Build your customer experience strategy around the delivery of these needs. Design products and services that specifically deliver the needs of your new customer categories.

“Attract: Market to and attract the types of people who will be the best fit for your needs based products and services. Market to different categories differently. The kind of advert that might attract the Prince of Wales probably won’t attract the Prince of Darkness even though they share many of the same circumstances.

“Guide: When customers come to you, make sure to ask the right question to help you accurately categorize them to make sure you are delivering the products and services they really need in a way that is personalized for them.” – James Dodkins, Don’t Segment Your Customers, Linkedin; Twitter: @JDODKINS

7. All the analytics in the world won’t trump quality. “CX is not about websites. It’s not about buying experience. It’s not about a shiny new store in a high rent location. It’s not even about the products. It’s about how the products over-deliver on the experience people expect and add value.

“’Quality is remembered long after price is forgotten’ were the famous words of Sir Henry Royce (founder of Rolls Royce).

“As Apple has done with me (and many others) they have converted me to become an advocate. Yes, the products are beautiful. Yes, the products are reliable. Yes, they make sense because they retain a high portion of their value, but it’s far more than that the experience is outstanding.

“So, my question to you is…is YOUR company experience outstanding?

“Do you deliver far more than your customers expect? Do your customers become advocates? Do you thrill your customers? Do you do whatever is required to make sure they are glad they invested in your product and service?” – Adam Gray, What customer experience means in the real world, DLA ignite; Twitter: @DLAIgnite

8. Data is a part of business now. “Data has often been called the new oil. While companies have a social media strategy, a privacy policy they also need a talent data strategy too. One of the issues with data, is data privacy and the GDPR regulations which means that holding people data that are not your employees require you to get opt-in.

“To quote a recent LinkedIn report, ‘One of Nielsen’s businesses tapped its People Analytics team to understand why it was losing talent. Starting with five years of people data in a (big) spreadsheet and some hypotheses, they identified the factors most highly correlated with attrition. The biggest finding was that employees with a change in job responsibilities due to promotion or lateral movement within the past two years were much less likely to leave. This insight prompted Nielsen’s leadership to focus on making it easier for employees to learn about and pursue jobs internally and identifying ‘at-risk’ high performers and proactively putting opportunities in front of them.’” – Tim Hughes, The 4 Technologies That Killed Transactional Recruitment Process, DLA ignite; Twitter: @Timothy_Hughes

9. Use analytics to understand what your customers like best. “There will inevitably be certain items and services that customers will like more than others.

Customer interaction analytics gather data in order to identify the most popular products and services among your customers, giving you a better idea of what they really want. This information can be used to plan promotional deals, advertising, and employee training, allowing your contact center to make the most of its time and money.

“In addition to recognizing current tendencies, customer interaction analytics are able to identify emerging trends, enabling your contact center to stay one step ahead of the competition.” – Flavio Martins, 4 Reasons You Need Customer Interaction Analytics Yesterday, Win The Customer; Twitter: @flavmartins

10. Analytics reveal deeper human behavior and psychology. “This view of human psychology describes that the brain as if it is constantly running a very advanced suite of predictive analytics. Here’s why this is meaningful for CX professionals:

  • Humans’ focus on the future is what gives power to Purposeful Leadership, as it creates the motivation for people to be part of achieving something important in the future alongside other people.
  • Since people selectively reconfigure their memories, we need to design experiences to create specific memories. That’s the cornerstone of what we call ‘Design for Real People,’ which is one of the strategies of the CX competency: Customer Connectedness.
  • The myriad of simulations provide people with an expectation that doing something good for someone else will likely lead to a good emotional outcome, which is what creates empathy.
  • To motivate customers, employees, or leaders, it’s helpful to introduce future scenarios that tap into elements of their previous experiences.

“And here’s why prospective psychology is important for everyone: it determines your happiness. Like any predictive model, it needs fine tuning. If your model is always calculating the worst-case outcomes, then you’ll tend to be sad and depressed. On the other hand, if your model is looking for positive scenarios, then you’ll stay happy and motivated.”- Bruce Temkin, Human Beings Are Driven By Their Personal Predictive Analytics, Experience Matters; Twitter: @btemkin

11. Don’t lose sight of the journey in the midst of the data. “The beginning of the customer journey consists of a prospect becoming aware of their need for a product or service, as well as learning about your industry and brand. Awareness of your brand may come before a customer recognizes their own need, or during the research process for fulfilling that need.

“During this process, a customer may interact with your brand in many ways, including on or through:

  • Social media, such as Facebook and LinkedIn
  • Google ads
  • Review sites, such as Yelp and Angie’s List
  • Word of mouth from trusted friends and family
  • Other ads, such as television, commercials, store signage, and newspaper ads

“The beginning of the customer journey can be challenging to track because sometimes your customers don’t remember when or where they first heard about you. It can also be challenging to track individual data from singular customers from start to finish along their journey. There are ways to harvest data from this stage of the customer journey.” – Kathryn Casna, Customer Experience Analytics for Every Step of the Customer Journey, Salesforce; Twitter: @salesforce

12. Set the vision before you get into the analytics. “Getting the most value from your customer experience analytics will require a well-defined vision of the insights you want and the technology sophistication you will need to produce them. Combine this future vision with a thorough self-assessment of your current state. This will help to identify gaps that must be bridged to realize your vision.

“Once you identify key metrics and data sources, you will need to determine the infrastructure requirements to ingest, store, process and serve up the data. Unstructured data will likely require big data technology, operations and management. The integration of structured and unstructured data will require information architecture and management (taxonomy, metadata, data quality and governance).

“In addition to these technical challenges, there may also be organizational challenges to overcome. Do you have the right people, skill sets and processes to achieve an alignment of purpose and an alliance for taking action? If not, look for experts in the field to help you jumpstart the learning curve and to manage this organizational change.” – Dave Zwicker, Enhancing Your Digital Customer Experience with Analytics and Insights, Earley Information Science; Twitter: @EarleyInfoSci

13. How you visualize and structure analytics is important. “Structured customer feedback is the most common, and the easiest to deal with. For example, a typical question in your survey might be, ‘How satisfied were you with your most recent experience at Hotel ABC on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being very satisfied and 1 being very dissatisfied?’

“When customers provide their answer to this question, it comes in the form of a number. In this case, a 5 would indicate very satisfied with the most recent visit to the hotel, a 1 would indicate very dissatisfied, and so on.

“Almost any VoC software platform can easily analyze these data and create graphs to aggregate and compare the responses: Maybe 30% of respondents were very satisfied, 35% very dissatisfied, and so forth.” – Sean McDade, Lesson #4: Text Analytics Is More Than A VoC Feature — It’s An Absolute Must-Have, PeopleMetrics; Twitter: @PeopleMetrics

14. Data isn’t perfect. “Those who believe that bigger data possesses unreasonable effectiveness will invariably be disappointed. Many believe the more data you have, the more unexpected insights will rise from it, and the more previously unseen patterns will emerge. This is the religion of big data that promises to defy the gravity of management science. While I do believe in miracles, I am very skeptical about being able to buy them from third parties.

“One is not likely to make sound management decisions without knowledge of the specific domain of business.  When the domain knowledge meets data analytics many good things start to happen:

  1. Cultural biases and beliefs, that often act as barnacles impeding your progress, will be challenged;
  2. Departmental impacts on a business process, that are often overlooked, will get exposed;
  3. New hypothesis (model) for better business decisions can be created. More data can be identified to test these hypotheses. Better testing produces better, more accurate, models and better models support better decisions: the decisions that make your business grow faster and more profitable.

“The role of analytics is to provide support for building predictive models. Predictive modeling is about knowledge of domain and scientific method. Big data can provide and store a lot of additional content for mining, but not much more.” – Gregory Yankelovich, Why Your Investment in Analytics is Likely to be a Complete Waste of Money, Customer Experience IQ; Twitter: @piplzchoice

15. Focus on creating analytical “harmony” in your business. “In the world of customer analytics, soaring solos only get you so far. Delivering harmonious customer experiences across the customer life cycle requires careful collaboration across different business functions — from marketing to customer care to operations to product — yet, since each line of business has its own genre of incentives and KPIs, it’s virtually impossible to get them to play off the same sheet music.

“Clearly, a new paradigm is needed. The next best experience (NBX for short) is the holy grail that CI pros should strive toward in order to deliver the right experience to the right customer at the right time. Like its ‘next best trilogy’ forebears (next best product, next best offer, and next best action), NBX delivers a recommendation based on signals from customer data.

“Unlike them, however, it analyzes signals across the customer journey, independent of business domain. The recommendation can therefore manifest in many types of customer experiences: from customer service to customer engagement to operations or sales and marketing.” – Brandon PurcellOrchestrate Your Customer Analytics Practice With The Next Best Experience, Forrester; Twitter: @forrester

16. Real-time data can be powerful. “Is real-time processing a requirement for a Customer Data Platform? It’s a deceptively simple question that can’t be answered without resolving two additional questions: What do we mean by real-time processing? How do we decide what is and isn’t a requirement?

“…There are at least four different flavors of real time processing that relate to CDPs.

“…It’s important to recognize these distinctions and to clarify which are included when you’re discussing a real-time CDP. All systems in the CDP Institute’s Vendor Comparison Report say they do real-time access while only half do real-time interactions. Real-time data loads are almost universally available, but the report doesn’t capture which systems can make the data available in real time. Nor do we ask about real-time identity resolution.” – David Raab, Do Customer Data Platforms Need Real-Time Processing?, Customer Experience Matrix; Twitter: @draab

17. Test your decisions and try to view yourself objectively. “If you have lots of sales personas, create a fake customer that is each of those personas, and then that customer should get all the emails, invoices, everything else that a regular customer that fits that persona group should get.

“Then take a look at those accounts. Are you awesome, or are you super annoying? Do you hear nothing for a year, except for invoices, and then, ‘Hey, do you want to renew?’ How is that conversation going between you and that customer? So really try to pay attention to that. It depends on your organization if you want to tell people that this is what’s happening, but you really want to make sure that that customer isn’t receiving preferential treatment.

“So, you want to make sure that it’s kind of not obvious to people that this is the fake customer so they’re like, ‘Oh, well, we’re going to be extra nice to the fake customer.’ They should be getting exactly the same stuff that any of your other customers get. This is extremely useful for you.” – Dana DiTomaso, Building Better Customer Experiences – Whiteboard Friday, Moz; Twitter: @Moz

18. Keep using analytics to refine your messaging over time. “So now you know the science of message placement (at least as it stands today). Now on to the art of selecting messages that will connect and engage the consumers you most want to positively affect. Fortunately, click through analytics allow us all to continue to refine those messages to determine what best resonates with our social media consumers.

“This inferential, highly-nuanced, process affords exciting opportunities to constantly discover, refine, and emotionally connect with people in ways that make them want to post or retweet our content. Here’s to the art and science of customer experience design.” – Joseph Michelli, Customer Experience – Art or Science? The answer is YES, The Michelli Experience; Twitter: @josephmichelli

19. Analytics can help you create and find micro experiences. “I like to use going to the movie theaters as an example when I host private workshops because it’s easily relatable. What do you experience when going to the movie theaters? Well, there’s a lot. Some of the more common macro interactions would include awareness, such as seeing a Facebook ad or driving by the movie theaters. Next, you’re going to want to purchase your tickets.

“You might do that on a mobile website, or their desktop site. Or you might choose to go to the movie theaters and purchase them through an employee, or at a self-serve kiosk. And, of course, one of the macro interactions within the movie theater is purchasing popcorn at the concession stand.

“But what about the micro experiences? The little interactions within the customer journey. This is where I like to live within, to be able to grow my businesses, because often this isn’t where your competition is focused on. Some of the micro interactions within the customer journey of a movie theater could include the cleanliness of the bathroom, or does the ketchup pump actually have ketchup near the concession stand after you buy your hot dog? This is where we have to focus to be able to create an experience that our customers have never seen before and customer journey mapping allows you to do this.” – Michel Falcon, Improve Your Customer Experience With Customer Journey Mapping (Case Study Included), Twitter: @MichelFalcon

20. If you connect to mobile devices, pay attention to IoT. “The Internet of Things (IoT) is growing at an incredible rate. People are using their phones and tablets to connect to their home thermostats, security systems, fitness trackers, and numerous other things to make their lives easier and more streamlined. Thanks to all of these connected devices, there is more raw data available to organizations about their customers, products, and their overall performance than ever before; and that data is constantly streaming.

“With big data, you could expect to take advantage of at least some of that machine data, but there was still an expected lag in analysis and visualization to give you useable information from the raw data. Basically, fast data analytics allows you to turn raw data into actionable insights instantly.

“With fast data analytics services, businesses in the finance, energy, retail, government, technology, and managed services sectors may create a more streamlined process for marketing strategies, customer service implementation, and much more. If your business has an application or sells a product that connects to mobile devices through an application, you can see almost immediate improvements in how your customers see you and interact with your business, all thanks to fast data analytics.

“Consider a few real-world examples of how fast data analytics have helped companies across business sectors improve their performance.” – Ronald van Loon, How You Can Improve Customer Experience With Fast Data Analytics, Data Science Central; Twitter: @DataScienceCtrl

21. Use analytics to complete your buyer journey map. “To identify the gaps in your experience, start with an experience or journey map you already have. If you don’t already have one, keep it simple and make a rough sketch of the major user flows of your product experience. Review these key flows with your customer-facing teams and start circling areas where a mode shift occurs. Maybe it’s when a user switches from an app to an email or call, or goes from buying to using a product. Focus on the gaps you all agree on, but prioritize and optimize the ones that front-line customer-facing teams think are the biggest issues. Name a product and operating team steward for each circle to ensure you have someone accountable for closing that gap.

“In your next sprint: Gather up existing flows or take a first pass at sketching your flows. Identify the key stakeholders from across the organization, but especially from every customer-facing team. Begin circling your gaps.” – Shiren Vijiasingam, Don’t Frustrate Users with Gaps in Your Product Experience, General Assembly; Twitter: @GA

22. “Crisis management for a service issue requires customer logic.“ When organizations only apply financial, operational or public relations logic to hiccups involving customers, it invariably yields responses that fix the problem but leave customers unsatisfied and distrustful. Effective organizational service recovery must start with a deep understanding of the customer that is a vital part of the foundation of a strategy. It is that strategy that informs all crisis management tactics and communication responses.

“A simple but poignant example is Domino’s Pizza. When Domino’s started as a company, if a customer ordered a pizza and it was delivered more than 30 minutes later, the pizza was free. The service guarantee was the brainchild of the marketing department without any customer intelligence regarding how to handle service recovery around late pizza delivery. Then, they changed their guarantee to $3.00 off if delivered late.

“Many people believed Domino’s must have been giving away too many free pizzas.  Actually, just the opposite had occurred. They were not giving away enough free pizzas.  When Domino’s asked customers: ‘If your pizza arrives in more than 30 minutes what do you typically do?’ the typical customer indicated that they go ahead and pay for the pizza. ‘But, you do know it is free if it is late?’ Domino’s said to customers. ‘Yes,’ replied customers, ‘but we think giving away free pizza just for being five or ten minutes late is excessive.’

“Domino’s wisely asked customers, ‘What do you recommend we do if the pizza is delivered late?’ And, the typical customer responded, ‘A discount of some sort.’ When Domino’s changed their free pizza guarantee to three dollars off if delivered late, customers took them up on the discount. It was now closer to the customer’s recovery expectations.

“Customer intelligence—research and feedback on what customers want, expect and experience–is only part of the recipe for an effective service recovery strategy.” – Chip Bell and John R. Patterson, Customer-Centric Crisis Management, Take Their Breath Away; Twitter: @johnrpatt

23. Use the customer as your starting point for research. “It is my strong belief that it all starts with the customer that informs my obsessive commitment to insight research. You have to try to go beyond counting up the things you can count, to experience the mysteries of another human being’s experience of the world.

“So probably the weakest element of this model for me, after many years in this work, is that I missed culture as an element of individual experience. Psychological factors certainly include understanding the hard wiring that comes from our biology, which we now call behavioral economics. But culture is always software.  And it does matter.

“Culture changes and evolves. [My Dad watches Mad Men and sees reminders of the office politics of the ‘girls’ in the ‘steno pools’ of his past work in a major engineering firm. I watch Mad Men and see reminders of how we have indeed changed our ideas about what a woman can do and be in our society. And how glad I am that my career pinnacle was not the ‘steno pool.’]

“So, when I am looking for customer insights, I now consider culture as well as the other dimensions of the model above.” – Susan Abbott, Customer Experience – what it means, where it’s going, Customer Crossroads; Twitter: @SusanAbbott

24. If something besides the customer is the “heart” of your data collection, analytics will be difficult. “What’s at the center of your data collection systems? Maybe financial and operational data. That inside-out architecture will make it harder for you to foster customer-focus and differentiate customer experience across the customer experience journey and life cycle. Put on your customer hat and shoes and think like they do.

“After all, your company exists to (and thanks to!) help your customer get ahead in his/her business. Invest in creating a common definition of the customer and a common taxonomy and data structure.” – Lynn Hunsaker, Customer Experience Data Silos Demystified, ClearAction Continuum; Twitter: @clearaction

25. Pay attention to trends, in addition to data. “Today’s customers expect a personalized, quick, and consistent experience. We call these expectations the Three R’s. A recent IBM Institute for Business Value report brings this fact into sharp focus:

  • 76 percent of consumers expect organizations to understand their individual needs – Relationship
  • 81 percent of consumers demand improved response time – Responsiveness
  • 68 percent anticipate organizations will harmonize consumer experiences – Readiness

“These trends reflect more than survey results. The Blue Goldfish Project highlighted these trends by examining case studies from 300 companies using technology, data, and analytics to improve customer loyalty and advocacy.” – Stan Phelps and Evan Carroll, How Dell, Amazon and Disney Leverage Technology, Data, and Analytics to Drive Both Profits and Prophets, Shep Hyken’s Customer Service Blog, Twitter: @Hyken

How does your company leverage customer experience analytics for better results?

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