Powering Human Experience

Season 2 | Episode 3 - Melissa Riley

Ray Poynter
August 23, 2021
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Episode 3, Season 2 has just landed! Tune in today to Melissa Riley, Chief Customer Advocate from Potentiate to discover how to take your customer experience to the next level by applying a more human lens.

A full transcript of the interview can be found below:

Ray Poynter, Chief Research Officer

Hi, I'm Ray Poynter, and welcome to another Potentiate Powering Human Experience podcast. Today, I'm delighted to welcome my colleague, Melissa Riley, Head of Client Services and Chief Customer Advocate at Potentiate. Hi Melissa!

Melissa Riley, Chief Customer Advocate

Hi, Ray. I'm really happy to be here. How are you?

Ray Poynter, Chief Research Officer

I'm good, thanks. I'm looking forward to this chat. And today, we're going to focus on CX, a topic that Melissa is quite an expert on. So Melissa, perhaps we can start with a really simple question. Why do companies conduct CX projects? And what do they get from them?

Melissa Riley, Chief Customer Advocate

That's a really interesting question. The market is much more competitive nowadays, this digital era, the internet, bringing much more power to consumers - they have many more options at their fingertips. That actually created a shift of power, the companies don't have the power that they used to have. The thing that's really interesting is that consumers are now comparing not only companies within the same industry, they are also comparing companies amongst different industries. So if I have a great experience with an airline, then I go to my bank, I expect something similar. So this has created higher expectations for the companies, really needing to up their games to provide not only a great quality product, the right price, but a great customer experience.

Because the world is really competitive, another thing that organizations need to do is to focus on retention – it’s getting harder and harder to get new clients. So retention is really, really important.

A Customer Experience Program monitors how you're performing. So companies identify which key touchpoints or the interactions of the journey that need to be monitored. They understand how the customers are feeling - if there are pain points and gaps that need to be identified and acted on. And also what’s working well, because it's really important to measure what you're doing well, and then you can reinforce that behavior, you can train your staff. This is really important. This is the main reason why companies do Voice of Customer programs, or CX customer programs.

Ray Poynter, Chief Research Officer

What are the main challenges that companies are facing when they do a CX or Voice of Customer program?

Melissa Riley, Chief Customer Advocate

A few challenges. One of the key things that we see nowadays is that companies are silo-ed. Information is not shared across the board with different departments. We know through experience that customer experience is something that needs to be shared by everyone in the organization, you can’t provide great customer experiences, if that's only dealt with by one single department.

One of the things that we see in the market is that there's confusion between great customer experience, and customer service. Some programs are still focusing on the customer service. But a great customer experience goes beyond that. You need to understand your processes, you need to understand if you have the right product, you need to understand a lot of other things. And different departments will be responsible for different parts of that journey. So this is one challenge.

Another challenge is that we still rely a lot on what we call solicited feedback. The surveys that we send, customers responding to surveys, but all the organizations with Voice of Customer programs out there, they are competing to get the attention of the same people. As an example, I have relationships with a few different banks, I have relationships with a few different telco companies, with grocery stores and with other retail shops, and they are all trying to get feedback from me. And we know that people won't be willing to do a lot of surveys. So I think we need to be much cleverer using other sources of information.

Customers volunteer a lot of feedback. But that's not really incorporated into the different customer experience programs we see. I think this is something that's just starting now. We have online reviews, we have social media comments. We have call centres, we have complaints emails. So how do we incorporate all of that into one single platform, to understand the entire customer journey, and don't only rely on survey feedback?

Ray Poynter, Chief Research Officer

Are there things that companies get wrong with their CX program, do you think?

Melissa Riley, Chief Customer Advocate

I don't know if I would call it necessarily wrong, I think it might be stages of maturity, when you're doing your customer experience program, programs really start at a measurement phase. So you implement, you create your survey, you decide when you're going to survey your customers. And then you start measuring their feedback and how happy they are or unhappy.

After that, you need to start acting on the feedback that they provide. This is where the value of a customer experience program really comes to life. Because just by measuring, you're not actually making any business change. With customer experience programs, there are 2 ways of acting on the feedback and the insights; you have a tactical level where you're closing the loop, and you address very specific problems, person by person. But there's also the opportunity to look at the data on an aggregate level, and really drill down in the insights to actually look into opportunities to improve your customer experience as a whole, identify issues and processes and opportunities on your products. Maybe you need to train staff on specific aspects. As I mentioned, it’s not really a problem, it’s just the maturity. But sometimes we see this initial phase takes longer.

Ray Poynter, Chief Research Officer

So some companies are using it simply as a method of measuring their staff rather than looking for opportunities?

Melissa Riley, Chief Customer Advocate

Yes that still happens. A Potentiate, we really don't recommend that you actually give your staff a target because we believe the value of a customer experience program is really to understand the experience and try to identify the opportunities. When you apply targets, you actually encourage some bad behaviors; we see a lot customer-facing staff actually requesting specific scores. And that defeats the entire purpose of a Customer Experience Program.

Ray Poynter, Chief Research Officer

Great. So that kind of takes us into the next question, which is, where is CX going next?

Melissa Riley, Chief Customer Advocate

I think surveys will always be very, very important, and they need to be there. But I think we need to be very mindful of people's time. And the other thing is that we already have a lot of information from these customers within the organization, we have many companies with very powerful CRMs. So I think one of the things that we are going to see is probably shorter surveys, that get straight to the point. You will bridge that information with all the other data that you have from the customer. You can derive very, very insightful insights.

The other thing, is bringing other sources of information and understanding that full journey. And also, more importantly, sharing that data. We call it democratization of the data. We need to have everyone in the organization being really mindful towards being customer-centric and of the customer experience.

Programs need to allow people to have access to the right type of data that they need, so they can do the job. But this needs to be shared across the board.

One other challenge is the volume of data. We heard from previous guests that they have so much data. And we heard the term ‘analysis paralysis’. We know it's really, really hard to make sense of all the data. So I think we will see technology actually helping us further to bring this data together and making it easier for us to make sense of the data, providing notifications, identifying some trends etc.

We will always need people to analyze the data to get the insights, but I think technology will help us reduce the work that we currently have to do to get the insights that we need.

Ray Poynter, Chief Research Officer

And how do we bring these insights to life? Because obviously, if there's a lot of survey data and there is a lot of other data being brought in, that sounds like a lot of numbers, how can we go away from just numbers?

Melissa Riley, Chief Customer Advocate

You're absolutely right, at the moment most do a survey. So we have a lot of statistics. And we also have a lot of verbatims. But there’s also the possibility of bringing other types of feedback, or if customers are willing to, we can bring some video feedback. You can then see the true voice of the customer.

I think very clever, and smart dashboards as well. While it can be a lot of data, not everyone needs to use and to see all the data available, you need to have different access levels. We need to feed people with what they need to do their job, to act, and to actually create business impact. But it doesn't need to be the entire set of data, you have a platform that's much bigger in the background. But some people will only see bits and pieces. And that's going to make things much easier for them.

I also think there will be a lot of artificial intelligence and new technologies to help people work through it. And that's one of the reasons I think surveys need to be simple. We don't need to ask 30 questions in a questionnaire, we can ask very specific questions. And then we can use all that demographic data, transactional data, interaction data, to enrich the information, and the really understand how the experience was and where the opportunities lie.

Ray Poynter, Chief Research Officer

Melissa, that's fantastic. I think that's given people a lot of insight into what's going on in the CX world. So thank you so much for your time today.

Melissa Riley, Chief Customer Advocate

Thanks, Ray. Pleasure to be here.

About Melissa Riley – Head of Client Service, Potentiate

20+ years of experience helping companies understand their customers to make better business decisions. Mel’s experience span from market research, VOC, competitive intelligence and data mining. Having also worked on the client side for over 7 years, Mel understands the importance of bringing customer insights into the business context to make powerful and meaningful decisions.

For more information about how a Voice of Customer program can help you deliver exceptional customer experiences, contact us at hx@potentiate.com