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Customer Experience: Do You Know How Your Customers Really Feel?

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IDC predicts that global spending on customer experience (CX) technologies will reach $641 billion in 2022, and 95 percent of senior marketing executives in leading companies believe that CX roles within their organizations are the most strategically important for growth, according to eConsultancy.

A row of five wooden stars, that looks like an online rating score.

It is clear that customer experience is top of mind for organizations today, and rightly so. Customers hold the power to make or break brands, and providing a positive customer experience is a key differentiator for competitive advantage.

What’s the power of CX? A positive customer experience can:

  • Promote customer loyalty
  • Improve customer retention
  • Encourage brand advocacy
  • Increase customer lifetime value
  • Improve crisis management

 

Considering the importance of customer experience, brands put much effort into building a strong CX strategy. That process starts with developing a clear picture of the quality of the customer experience the brand is already providing. 

The question is, do you know how your customers really feel about their experiences with your brand? If not, how can you find out?

Understand the Customer Journey First

Understanding the customer experience includes having a clear picture of the typical customer journey as well. A 2020 survey of over 14,000 consumers in the US, UK, Australia, Spain, France, and the Netherlands revealed that 48 percent of consumers began their purchase journey on a search engine, and 19 percent got inspiration for their purchases on social media. 

In 2021, that paradigm shifted a bit. According to a 2021 survey, 40 percent of consumers now begin their purchase journey on a search engine, and 27 percent rely on social media sites for product recommendations and reviews. That makes social media an increasingly significant resource for understanding the customer journey and experience.

“Social media has changed consumers radically and this shift marks the solidification of a new era of marketing with consumers, at their pace, in their words, on their terms. Winning brands will be the ones that understand their customers at the speed of the web.”--Guillaume Decugis, CEO Linkfluence 

Measuring Customer Experience Requires a Holistic View

For many years, brands have measured customer experience with a few key metrics such as:

  • Net Promoter Score (NPS)
  • Customer Effort Score (CES)
  • Customer Satisfaction (CSAT)

 

NPS tracks how likely a customer is to recommend a brand to their family and friends on a scale of one to 10. CES measures how much effort a customer must expend to reach their goal with a brand interaction, with the idea being that the higher the effort required, the lower customer loyalty will be. CSAT measures how happy customers are with a brand interaction or an overall brand experience.

An illustration of the Net Promotor Score scale.

Each of these common ways of measuring customer experience are quantitative in nature. For qualitative measurement of customer experience, brands have historically relied on open-ended surveys, focus groups, face-to-face interviews and other types of consumer research.

An illustration of the Customer Satisfaction Scale.

However, with the advent of AI and natural language processing, it is now easier to take qualitative measures of customer experience in a more organic way via social listening. 

Combining both quantitative and qualitative customer experience metrics provides brands with a more holistic view of the way customers really feel about their brand experiences.

Social Listening Gaining Importance for Marketers

According to eMarketer, just over half of marketing leaders were utilizing social listening platforms to understand how their audiences were feeling in the wake of the global pandemic, and that number has continued to climb in 2021. Now, nearly two-thirds of marketers believe that social listening has increased in value for their brands in the past twelve months.

A chart from Gartner showing how marketing leaders are getting information about the consumers during the pandemic.

Going Beyond Simple Social Listening for Deeper Insights

There are many social listening tools available, but not all of them provide the level of detail marketers need to develop deeper insights that can, in turn, lead to better CX strategies. For that level of detail, more than simple social listening is required. Brands need a customer experience platform.

Look for a consumer intelligence tool that provides:

  • Real-time analysis 24/7
  • Normalized ratings and rankings of quantitative CX metrics
  • Ability to consolidate data from multiple sources
  • Affect, Emotion, and Sentiment Analysis 
  • Scalable CX analysis

 

The right consumer intelligence tool can help brands:

  • Uncover and understand authentic customer feedback
  • Improve both the in-store and online customer experience
  • Understand the real customer experience for products and services

Uncover and Understand Authentic Customer Feedback

One of the drawbacks of relying solely on quantitative metrics such as NPS is that those results may be somewhat skewed by the types of customers that choose to complete surveys. Similarly, results of qualitative face-to-face interviews may not accurately reflect the true feelings of participants. Some participants may feel pressure to answer according to what they think the interviewer wants to hear. 

For these and other reasons, social listening offers something better. Increasingly comfortable with interacting with friends and family on social media platforms, customers are more likely to share their authentic experiences with brands via social conversations.

When brands can aggregate and analyze ratings, reviews, customer feedback, and social conversations (preferably via one centralized hub), they can quickly get their fingers on the pulse of consumer sentiment.

Improve the In-Store and Online Customer Experience

A current trend in retail customer experience is the blurring of lines between in-store and online customer experience. Prior to the pandemic, in-store customer experiences were the norm, but now, that may no longer be the case. A recent Verizon Look Forward study reported that 42 percent of shoppers anticipate that they will be shopping both in-store and online in the coming year.

What impact should that have on customer experience strategy for your brand? Simply put, brands must now give immediate attention to how customers view both their online and in-person interactions with the brand.

Customer experience analysis must include data from both channels, and must include a healthy dose of social listening thrown into the mix. When brands can tap into the online conversations consumers are having about their brand, they can quickly build a clearer understanding of their market and the consumer forces that move it.

Brands can use well-designed social listening tools to uncover customer pain points and needs and figure out how consumers really view their products, retail channels, customer service offerings, and even their competitors.

Understand the Real Customer Experience with Products and Services

Customer experience does not simply stop at the point of purchase. Brands must also monitor customer experience across the entire customer journey, from initial research all the way to the end of the customer lifecycle. 

A strong CX strategy involves capturing customer sentiment at every stage of the journey. For example, do you have adequate systems in place to measure the friction in your purchase process? What about measuring your contact center complaint percentages and your first call resolution stats?

A tool that aggregates information from multiple sources, including social media conversations, and makes that data available for holistic analysis can help brands get a global view of customer experience. 

Leverage Linkfluence Consumer Intelligence for Customer Experience Analysis

Linkfluence consumer intelligence enables superior customer experience analysis. Far more than just a social listening tool, Linkfluence applies AI, data science, and human market research expertise to a comprehensive social data stream to uncover deep consumer insights that regular social listening tools alone cannot.

A Case in Point

Pernod Ricard, a world-renowned wine and spirits company, partnered with Linkfluence to ensure that social data and consumer insights would drive every decision the company makes. 

Remarking on the benefits of the partnership, Florence Rainsard, Global Consumer Insights Director for Pernod Ricard, observed:Through their social activities, consumers tell us how, when and why they consume our products. In addition, the granularity of social data is a real asset. This detail enables us to identify emerging occasions we were not aware existed…

Linkfluence allows us to listen to real people's voices and understand what our brands mean to them, in their own words. Then, there is less room for ambiguity.”

(Read the full case study here.)

Get Turnkey, Comprehensive Customer Experience Analysis 

Here’s what Linkfluence can do to help your brand with customer experience analysis:

  • Automatically aggregate and analyze ratings, reviews, customer feedback, and social conversations with AI-powered sentiment analysis
  • Provide detailed qualitative and quantitative analysis of your point of sale and distribution network
  • Monitor online conversations to discover customer pain points and needs
  • Analyze strengths, weaknesses, and points of friction in customer experience with the application of machine learning and the expertise of trained market researchers
  • Scale customer experience analysis across all business units, lines of business, and geographies
  • Provide real-time analysis that enables faster business decision-making when customer experience challenges or opportunities occur

 

Linkfluence provides a turnkey consumer intelligence platform paired with the human market research touch. Are you ready to uncover deep consumer insights and use them to build a better customer experience for your brand? Learn more about how to get started with Linkfluence today.



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