Ross Wainwright is CEO of Alida.
As the CEO of an experience management company that helps brands build customer communities, I believe the best business decisions are made with customers, not for them. In difficult economic times it is of the utmost importance to stay close to the customer. While companies continue to prioritize customer experience, many ways to capture customer feedback today are fragmented and inefficient.
I’ve watched “the survey” flood the CX industry for years. They are quick and easy to implement, but customer needs and feedback behavior have changed. Customers want to know that you listen to their feedback and act on it. They want to feel appreciated.
From my perspective, some people experience survey fatigue, which can lead to low engagement and means surveys aren’t always a reliable CX management tool. In fact, the Wall Street Journal reported that response rates to major economic surveys had declined and that post-pandemic response rates continued to fall. This has made it difficult for the government to capture accurate representative data, leading to potentially biased data.
It’s hard to design a superior customer experience and make critical business decisions when your input is unreliable. So what now?
Consider building a customer community.
People join communities to find purpose, social connection, and support. And it’s not that different in a CX community. Customers with a shared interest in your business come together in a safe space where they feel comfortable sharing honest feedback. These people feel this sense of community and are advocates for your brand. Most people think of consumers as the most common participants in a CX community, but the possibilities to deliver optimal CX are endless. You can build a community of your employees, UX designers, baristas, pharmacists and any other group you can think of.
Community is a trust-based method of collecting feedback. Today’s consumer is concerned about privacy and not interested in any impersonal brand experience.
Here are four reasons why you should consider building a community:
• Deeper Access: Communities seek to gather the most passionate brand advocates. By investing in this group, you can go beyond transactional data and uncover the “what,” “why,” and “what’s next” behind customer needs and motivations.
• Stronger engagement: The best way to validate business decisions is to understand exactly what your customers want and need. Customers join communities because they continually choose to invest in your business. Once you build this community of verified stakeholders, you can see increased engagement.
• Faster time to insights: speed is important in today’s changing market. Customer needs can change in the blink of an eye. Harvard Business Review said, “Two-thirds of customers believe companies are not responding quickly enough to their changing needs.” Communities can help put the voice of customers at your fingertips for easy and quick implementation of CX engagement tactics.
• Centralized customer experience: Putting customers at the center of your business is key to creating exceptional customer experiences. A community-based CX strategy emphasizes the uniqueness of each customer journey while also finding their common touchpoints. This helps you build customized experiences for all types of customers.
How can you get started?
Building a community of customers is a strategic process that cannot begin until customer experience is prioritized. Therefore, make CX a core value and make sure it is ingrained in the company culture. This commitment should start with top leadership and be reflected at all levels of the organization.
With that in mind, create multiple channels for customers to provide quick feedback and leverage platforms like social media, email, and feedback forms.
Once you have the channels in place, it is imperative that you actively listen and respond. Regularly review and review customer feedback. Respond quickly and acknowledge their input to show that their opinion is valued. Address any issues or concerns and provide updates on actions taken.
Engage your audiences by creating a feedback-friendly environment where customers feel inspired to share their thoughts and suggestions. Then foster a sense of community that creates opportunities for customers to interact and connect. Finally, encourage dialogue and collaboration between community members.
Once you’ve received feedback, it’s almost worthless if you don’t have a feedback mechanism. Establish processes to systematically collect and analyze customer input. Use your feedback process to gather actionable insights about the customer experience, so that your agents have the necessary skills to effectively handle customer interactions. Empower employees to take responsibility for customer issues and resolve them quickly.
Building a strong customer community that actively contributes to improving the customer experience is an ongoing process. Consistency, responsiveness, and a genuine commitment to listening and responding to feedback are critical to cultivating an influential community.
Improve the customer experience.
While customers want fast and effective ways to connect with their favorite brands, they also want an authentic and genuine relationship. Businesses need an effective way to understand what goes on in the hearts and minds of customers. By nurturing a customer community, you can discover reliable data and insights from highly engaged, verified customers.
The theme of the day is to create a more engaged and loyal customer, especially as customers accelerate the need for change and a better way forward. So, let’s shake things up. Let your customers tell you what they really want and how they really feel.