3 customer experience trends in 2014

Trend 1: Unstructured data will finally yield insight

The customer voice is out there regardless of whether or not businesses have implemented a solution to capture this valuable data. Customer feedback can be found in the transcripts of customer service calls, within online forums and, particularly, within the various social media channels out there. This data can be difficult to monitor and even more challenging to mine. Despite this fact, companies are exploring means of gathering and gaining clarity from big, unstructured data.

One key issue for small firms is that often there isn’t enough noise about them to make social mining a worthwhile investment. However, this doesn’t mean social media is off limits; in the near term, medium-sized enterprises will use social data to benchmark themselves against larger competitors. Even a local bank with five branches can gain value by learning how the largest 20 banks are executing on the root causes of what creates Promoters and Detractors amongst their customers.

Trend 2: Net Promoter will become accessible to every business

Well, almost every business. If you’re running a small sandwich or coffee shop, your finger is likely to be on the customer pulse already.

If you’re part of a Fortune 500 enterprise, you will require sophisticated technology that fulfills your business’s complex requirements. Traditionally it’s been extremely costly to support sophisticated software solutions, requiring consultancy, custom programming and the necessary head count required to run an effective program. What has previously been missing, is support for the middle ground, the medium-sized firms that are perhaps too large to closely monitor customer feedback every day as a small business can, but too small to support intricate and large-scale technology as bigger businesses can.

This gap closed a lot in 2013; many more mid-sized companies will use Net Promoter software to manage the customer experience to drive growth in 2014. This segment of companies is well positioned to use Net Promoter to their full advantage and see tangible results, even without big teams of dedicated staff and existing Net Promoter expertise.

Trend 3: Customers will pick quality as they tire of quantity

As more companies adopt Net Promoter, an increasing number of surveys will be distributed to customers. I’m not sure about you, but I’m already drowning in questionnaires and requests for feedback. There are survey requests on my receipts, website surveys, surveys on the screen at the cash point, pop-up surveys, email surveys, telephone surveys, surveys in my smartphone; the list goes on.

Customers, tiring of the barrage, are becoming irritated and selective, showing a bias toward quality surveys, a trend that will pick up in 2014. So, how do you define a quality survey? It comes from a company or brand with whom I have a relationship, or which has a history of responding to my feedback. A good questionnaire respects my time and doesn’t ask for information that the company should already have. Protect response rates: respect their time. To achieve better response rates, companies must respect their customers’ time.

Be as quick as you can with individual responses, but don’t focus solely on addressing customer issues. Adapt your company’s processes in response to customer feedback; use your insight to fine-tune both your business model and your customer feedback process.

Beyond 2014, there will be an increase in predictive analytics

Data which reveals what happened yesterday might be interesting, but it doesn’t necessarily help you plan. To plan effectively, you need predictive analytics. That’s exactly what the Net Promoter discipline gives you: a simple to understand predictive analytic, the Net Promoter Score, which correlates to growth.

With the rise of big data, we’re beginning to observe increasingly sophisticated predictive analytics and algorithms. Across 2014 and beyond, an increasing number of businesses will supplement their Net Promoter Score with more targeted and specific measures and models of growth.

For now, as more and more competitors jump on the customer experience bandwagon, smart companies prepare by creating quality surveys that get responses and yield valuable insight. They pick up on all of the rich unstructured data out there and they get the basics right. Will your company be one of them?

Richard Owen is CEO of Satmetrix.

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