Hi Rebeccah, tell us about yourself and your background.
Over the last 21 years, I’ve been leading research and analytics within the CPG, Retail, and eCommerce sectors. I’ve worked in all aspects of research and analytics, partnering with companies to leverage insights in product innovation, customer experience, brand health, operations, and logistics. I have worked with companies that include Unilever, PepsiCo, Clorox, Amazon, Kraft Heinz, Kellogg’s, Kroger, Kao Brands, P&G, Ipsos, IRI & Nielsen. Most recently, I started the analytics efforts at Instacart and partnered with top CPG companies, evolving their eCommerce strategies.
Currently, I am the CEO of a logistics company as well as a consulting practice. I am highly sought after for my ability to transform complex data and insights into meaningful stories. I’ve helped companies launch new brands and transform the online path to purchase. My main goal is always to help companies understand their customers’ needs, leading to customer-centric product development.
What is the biggest misunderstanding about customer experience, in your opinion?
I think as companies develop an experience for a customer, they tend to focus on what is easier to develop rather than think through how the experience can be seamless or optimized for the customer. I have found the best customer experiences have been those where there is research conducted directly with the customers to understand what features and functionality would be most important and relevant to them prior to deciding what the develop. At Instacart, I conducted quite a bit of research to identify areas to improve the shopping journey for customers, inclusive of the path to purchase opportunities, promotional solutions, and shopping satisfaction. Much of what the customer indicated was not known prior to the research and led to more robust enhancements.
What are some of the newer CX companies/solutions you’re keeping your eyes on right now?
There are many companies I am watching. Some are established, like Qualtrics, and some newer, such as Indeemo, MyTake, or Pipeline Research. I look for the more established companies to drive the industry research and best practices in the space and the newer ones to create more agile ways of collecting data and insights to identify areas that can be enhanced or optimized. As a result of adjusting to a new reality over the past year, I’ve noticed that smaller companies have been far more innovative in leveraging developing technology to overcome challenges related to COVID and improve on existing methodologies to answer specific questions.
I think there is also a balance of quantitative and qualitative approaches that need to be considered. At times, companies may lose sight of the qualitative component of customer experience. We can and should collect robust data to ensure strong customer satisfaction. Still, companies should also be talking with the customer to get at a deeper insight into why they rate their experience a certain way.
What can companies do to improve customer loyalty and retention?
Companies need to talk to their customers directly to uncover any pain points in the experience, be it functionality or service related, to consistently enhance customer needs. Timely tracking of customer experience will result in quicker identification and resolution of any potential issues. A survey at the end of an experience or at intervals over the course of the experience among a consistent sample can help to develop benchmarks to alert companies of an issue before it affects customer loyalty or retention. More often, we’ll find that customer needs may be peripheral in nature and that a significant improvement can be made without redesigning an entire platform.
As new features are developed or ideated, companies should sit down with a representative sample of customers and identify any opportunities prior to execution.
What do you think is most relevant and why: CSAT (customer satisfaction score), NPS (net promoter score), or CES (customer effort score)?
There is not a silver bullet when it comes to customer experience. Determining the KPI for your business is the most important aspect of maintaining a successful customer experience. I think NPS is an important score to understand holistically how your customers feel about the entire customer journey, not just where they run into issues. It is a good indicator of repeat business. However, if CES is low and the customers that do raise concerns or have problems to solve are not satisfied, for those users in general, that will deter them and likely cause a lower CSAT.
NPS can also provide a clean segmentation to better tailor marketing efforts to drive greater loyalty; however, you need to keep an eye on CES so that it doesn’t deter from the overall experience.
How can companies better use social media in the era of customer-centricity and personalization?
Relevancy and Personalization are a big part of how social media can be successful with customers. Understanding your customers and knowing their interests will allow companies to post and market-relevant content that customers will want to engage in. With so many touchpoints to reach a customer, they are more likely to give only a few seconds to determine relevance before they move on to something else. Always having a pulse on the customer will enable more targeted messages and create a better relationship with your customers.
What is your opinion on AI-based chatbots to handle customer support?
In my opinion, AI-based chatbots are good for simple questions but can often be frustrating and actually fall short of the customer-centric experience. I often need to talk to a person either to have someone put more thought into my issue or at least make me feel like that’s what is happening, even if the ultimate result may be the same. In a perfect world, I would combine AI with live chat to cover both spectrums and make the solution easier to find with clear messaging to signal availability.
What was the best movie you saw that has come out during this past year?
That one is difficult as the world of streaming has grown by leaps and bounds. What I enjoyed most over the past year is revisiting some of the series that I hadn’t seen in a while, such as The Office, Friends, and Seinfeld. It’s a cliché, I’m sure, but it brought a sense of normalcy to a situation that was anything but.
Last but not least, what is your favorite CX metric?
Customer Retention is my favorite metric to measure and understand the health of a company’s business. The greater the retention, the stronger the health of your repeat business and customer lifecycle. It’s also a great indicator of the longevity of newly acquired customers.