Customer experience is now a function inside many organizations. Its success is endlessly measured and managed by teams focused on star ratings, customer surveys, Yelp reviews, and Net Promoter Scores. Yet, despite the best intentions and growing focus on customer experience, few organizations actually manage to deliver an experience that their customers would likely call, “excellent.”
One of the main reasons we see this gap between intention and execution is because the data available on which to make decisions lags to the point of uselessness. By the time an organization knows there is a problem; weeks, months or longer time has passed. In addition, the feedback is often vague or based on one single instance, and it can be hard to uncover concrete, actionable trends. Worst of all, the opportunity to create a new customer relationship is gone.
Once a customer leaves, the best chance to fix a problem leaves with them. For companies to catch up to what customers expect and live up to their full potential, there’s a need for better tools, and for experience managers to shift from managing only big data to requiring fast data.
So, what does that mean for organizations today?
It’s time to focus on real-time feedback and creating the culture and processes needed to act on that feedback before the customer ever walks out the door. In addition, companies need to become adept at understanding the interconnections between brand, experience, and reputation, and learn to work across the organization to drive critical, constant improvements.
Doing this starts with capturing the right data at the right time. Real-time feedback platforms are enabling this for the first time. It’s rooted in an understanding of psychology and knowing that people have an emotional need to be heard. When you give customers the opportunity to give feedback, whether positive or negative, you fulfill this need. If a customer gives positive feedback, you have the time to thank them, or to ask them to post their review to social sites or refer a friend. If it’s negative, you can intercept the customer’s emotions, address the problem, and start an authentic relationship all before the customer has a chance — or feels the need — to vent elsewhere.
Enabling immediate intervention based on feedback is helping companies across a wide number of industries think beyond reputation management and focus on experience management. For a restaurant, that may mean being alerted to slow service or poor preparation of food. For a hospital, it could mean better assurance that every discharged patient understands their after-care instructions and medication. While the application may be unique to each industry or business, they share the common benefit of being able to ensure that every guest walks out the door feeling both heard and satisfied.
Thanks to real-time data, businesses are able to build stronger, more meaningful relationships with individual customers. And the collective impact that comes with tracking trends in that data over time is hard to ignore — one company credits this approach alone with driving double digit revenue growth.
To effectively compete in a world where customers have a myriad of choices and increasing expectations, organizations need to focus on the real experience their brands are providing each day. The power of using real-time data to drive improvements is huge, and while most industries lag behind today, those who invest in the needed tools, processes and culture will find themselves winning in big ways.
Bernard Briggs is the co-founder and CEO of Austin, Tex.-based Humm, an on-premise real time feedback platform that helps healthcare and hospitality brands including Yale-New Haven Hospital and Disney better understand and improve their customer experience.