Technology has made it easier for businesses to understand the customer experience
In this day and age, you would be hard pushed to find a business which doesn’t rely on data driven marketing. Collecting data has never been easier. Technological advances have enabled businesses to collect and analyse data in a way they have never been able to before.
But are businesses collecting data in a way that is meaningful for their businesses? Is all this data really helping you understand what matters to your customers, and how they perceive your business?
Many businesses use data collection as a way of understanding their customers. One of the ways businesses measure satisfaction levels is by running surveys. Employee engagement surveys, Purchase Surveys, Service Surveys, Interaction Surveys; you name it, and there will likely be one out there.
Technology has made it easy for businesses to conduct surveys across a broad audience, in almost any location.
In fact, technology has made it easy for businesses to get almost real-time feedback, whether it is formally through a business run survey, or through other forms of social media (think Facebook, restaurant review sites).
No wonder so many businesses feel they can tick the box when it comes to understanding their customers.
89% of people are not understood by businesses
Unfortunately, surveys don’t account for the views of a large proportion of the survey group because typically, a large proportion of the survey group won’t respond.
Statistically, it is known that in Australia, surveys run without promotion, and regardless of industry generate (on average) an 11% response rate. Whilst the information gathered from the 11% remains useful, that statistic means 89% of people are not really understood by businesses.
Businesses simply have no visibility of how that 89% perceive the service they received and/or their perception of their product or brand.
So what does the above mean? Does it mean businesses should develop strategies to generate a better response rate? Should they ring around the 89% who didn’t respond to work out why they didn’t respond at all?
Though the idea might be nice, the reality of trying to obtain feedback from the 89% is riddled with practical difficulties and could land some organisations with a rather hefty bill.
With all things in life, when one really wants to obtain crucial information but doesn’t have the budget requirements, one must “think outside the box” or in this case, “get to know your box”.
Using the human toolkit
In my humble opinion, a toolkit already exists for businesses to really find out what their customers are experiencing. It just isn’t utilised enough by businesses because technology has made it so easy to forget about it.
So what is this magical toolkit you ask? Well, we forget it because it literally is right under our noses. The toolkit comprises of sight, sound, touch, smell and taste. All these senses are what our customers are using when they go through their customer journey.
It doesn’t matter if you are offering a product or a service. During the customer experience, these multiple senses will come into play in one way or another. How better to gain insight into the customer’s experience, (translation – make data meaningful) than by experiencing it as your customers would? Why ask them, when you can experience it yourself?
Using your own human toolkit will help you understand what your customers are really after, and what they experience as part of their customer journey. There is no better way to get an authentic experience than to actually see, hear, taste and feel as your customers would. Experiencing the twists and turns they do firsthand as a customer.
What is it really like to be a customer?
I recall one of my early assignments at McKinsey & Company was exactly that. My brief was “You need to look like a girl who loves shopping, and be prepared to go shopping….Deliver back to the Board and make them understand what it’s really like to be a customer”.
And I did exactly that. Countless blisters and shops later, some fast talking and armed with a whole lot of visual aids, I was able to identify and present to the Board a picture that no survey would have been able to – how customers really perceived their brand and product.
From product display through to customer service, being the customer enabled me to explain to the Board the difference between how they perceived their products and brand, and the everyday reality of their product and brand. It allowed the Board to redefine their product portfolio, and realign their values with how they wanted customers to perceive their brand.
The above lessons stuck with me right through to my Fitness First days when I was charged with assessing market position. To do this, I became a member of multiple gyms within the Fitness First brand, and their competitors.
Part of my project looked at first impressions – for each sign-up I did, I measured the time it took me to get signed up, the order in which I was taken through the sign up process, the stage at which I was booked into my first session – all these things mattered.
To ensure customers were provided with a premium experience, we needed to understand (in granular detail) what exactly it was that customers were experiencing which gave rise to the survey results.
It gave our survey results some context; our organisation had some new lenses to look through when analysing the survey data. It gave Fitness First insight it otherwise would not have had.
Having all the data in the world is not going to get you the knockout results you want if you are viewing it in a one dimensional form. Put on some new lenses and change the way you view data.
Give your organisation a new lease of life by looking at data from a different perspective – give the data some meaning by experiencing the data!
Miwah Van - Founder of Unvorsum: Customer Strategy Consulting
Miwah Van is the founder of Unvorsum a new boutique consulting firm that helps companies unite customers and strategy. In her former roles as Head of Strategy & Business Development for Fitness First and as a management consultant with McKinsey & Company she witnessed companies struggling to align strategy across the entire organisation while ensuring customers and staff are actively connected. Unvorsum aims to help companies make strategy executable and performance measurable while gaining alignment with all stakeholders.