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The problem with "ready, aim, fire" is the "aim" part.

In the world of customer experience (CX), collecting customer data is like being "ready." Collected data is the starting point for any CX program. And acting on that feedback is like "fire"—our stated goal is to respond and resolve any issue.

But things get muddy in the middle. For CX leaders, "aim" relates to analysis—how we understand the insights that customers are communicating to the business. Finding and acting on those customer insights is a massive challenge.

Any business hoping to be customer-centric needs to deeply understand how to move from collected data to coordinated response. "Analysis paralysis" can stymie your response and issue resolution.

Customer-centric organizations find ways to engage customers in the way they run their business at an operational level.

At my company, we facilitate enterprise feedback management for thousands of customers, collecting over one million survey responses each day. Our customers use surveys not just to collect data but also to also drive workflows that allow them to take action on the feedback those surveys collect. We've found that companies that are customer-centric tend to be...

Here are three lessons from customer-centric companies that used a survey and CX platform to collect, analyze, and act on customer feedback.

Lesson 1: Prepare for data integration

Voice-of-the-customer (VoC) or CX solutions should collect feedback to drive strategic objectives forward. Most organizations already have a way of collecting customer feedback; however, the solutions in use are often bulky and slow.

Your business's specific needs for reporting and integrations will determine the kind of solution you need.

  • Reports: Look for solutions that include the kind of reports you need to create, or that have integrations that contribute to your organization's enterprise data strategy. Avoid solutions that require you to rip and replace other systems. Avoid solutions that do not easily share information with other systems.
  • Integration: Look for solutions that integrate easily with your email, messaging, support ticket, and technology case management apps. Typically, those include email, Slack, Jira, Salesforce, and case management tools, among others. Avoid solutions that require replacing your current systems and processes or demand long implementation cycles.

Mozilla, the nonprofit creator of the Firefox Web browser, has about 60 employees using a survey tool for everything from support to product satisfaction, product feedback, internal surveys, generating ideas and product improvements, and protecting privacy. Various disciplines collect customer data, including IT, Marketing, and Customer Support. The responses help Mozilla better understand what works and what does not work, and why.

"There is a dedicated feedback form in the Firefox desktop and mobile browsers that asks people if they are happy or sad. If they select one, the system issues a follow-up question asking why," explains Quantitative User Researcher Tyler Downer

Mozilla considered the output and then worked backward to determine the correct integrations to put into place. For instance, Mozilla engineers consider the type of feedback they want on a particular product. Then, Mozilla uses surveys to target specific groups of randomly selected users who provide insights on product changes and their Internet experience in general. Their responses feed into product management and engineering to help build product road maps, adjust products, and improve user experiences.

The flow of information through the survey platform and into the correct departments is made possible by the network of integrations set up previously.

Lesson 2: Automate feedback routes

There are many examples of companies over-rotating toward nonhuman tools to handle customer engagement—for example, relying on chatbots to enable customers to self-serve without human interaction. However, the more customer-centric approach is to automate the distribution of feedback behind the scenes so that your service seems exceptionally personal. That's how you use technology to empower the people dealing with customers on the front lines.

Automating that process saves employee time; it also means that your people respond faster in person. Look for solutions with automation features and notifications built-in, such as Send Email or Send Message capabilities, or solutions with an open API that will allow you to wire customer feedback into the systems that run the organization. Avoid systems that are rigid and difficult to evolve or that require implementation expertise to get up and running. Adding automation features to those systems could increase your budget and implementation time, if even possible.

DISH Network understands the power of automation. Prior to implementing its feedback system, DISH Network sales training was sometimes chaotic. Then it launched a training preparation process that allowed users to sign up for specific guidance. Automated workflows tracked and disseminated data about attendance, topics, and geographic information.

DISH Network even automated the post-training feedback process and request for documentation, saving hundreds of hours of employee time each year.

Lesson 3: Make data accessible and actionable

To be truly actionable, data must flow into the systems that drive the operations of the business. For instance, customer feedback to help support account growth must be accessible to sales executives in the CRMs that support their department.

  • First, make sure that the automation and integrations are wiring the customer feedback into the systems used by the people who can act on it right away. That could include customer support representatives, salespeople, or account managers.
  • Second, make the information visible and transparent companywide, regardless of whether it is positive or negative. This step is critical to ensure everyone within the organization has visibility to the current customer sentiment. It enables everyone within the organization to operate from a place of customer-centricity.
  • Third, reward employees for engaging your customers based on the provided feedback. That ensures customer feedback becomes ingrained in the company culture.

When an industry-leading software as a service (SaaS) company asked Researchscape International to develop a feedback system to drive increased customer satisfaction and loyalty, the client's goal was simple: Streamline everything from product offerings to service experiences by embedding customer feedback into its decision-making processes. Researchscape developed a successful customer relationship campaign that is still going strong—and one that has resulted in substantial gains in Net Promoter Score (NPS) and other customer satisfaction metrics.

Data collection is just the beginning for Researchscape's respondents. Depending on how respondents move through the survey, eight different email actions can be triggered. That means real-time feedback goes directly to the people who can put it into action.

Do not forget to 'aim'

The definition of customer-centricity is evolving. When CX leaders arm their organizations with integrated data sets, automated workflows, and actionable customer feedback, the result is an acceleration of the transformation into a customer-centric organization.

Collecting data is important ("ready"). So is acting on the data ("fire").

CX leaders need to focus on the critical work of integrating and actioning of customer feedback into the systems and process that drive the operation ("aim").

Companies seeking to become more customer-centric on those actions will become CX leaders.

More Resources on Customer-Centricity

Five Steps to Becoming a More Customer-Centric Company

Creating a Culture of Customer-Centricity: SAP's Chief Digital Marketing Officer Mika Yamamoto on Marketing Smarts [Podcast]

Four Tips for Adopting a Customer-Centric Mindset

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image of Ryan Tamminga

Ryan Tamminga is the senior vice-president of product and services at Alchemer, an enterprise online survey and CX platform. Ryan has 15+ years of experience in both industry and consulting roles with Fortune 100 companies across products, media, resources, and healthcare sectors.

LinkedIn: Ryan Tamminga