Hi Roxanne, tell us about yourself, your background?
I’m the Content Manager for Parker Software. We’re a UK software house specializing in the development of live chat, bots, conversational AI, and process automation. Our core products – WhosOn and ThinkAutomation – lead the UK market in their respective fields.
I look after the entire content spectrum for our portfolio of brands. So, this spans everything you’ll see on our group websites, through to our social media channels, through to PR, through to the comms we issue to customers and partners.
One of the most critical parts of my job is in understanding how to create clarity, consistency, and compelling experiences for customers. This applies from the moment the customer first interacts with our brand, then across their entire customer lifecycle.
At every point in the customer journey, I help deliver value-added content that enhances the understanding and appreciation of our products.
Online commerce was booming in 2020, and so did consumer reviews. – How can brands better utilize this data to improve their customers’ experience?
To answer frankly, many brands lack the ability to capitalize on the data that their reviews hold on any kind of large scale. This isn’t because the drive or the intention is absent. Rather, the format in which they collect reviews is often ill-suited to a meaningful understanding of customer experience.
Let’s say you send out a customer survey comprising of NPS questions, for example. That’s great for giving you a flavor of how liked your brand is overall. But it’s much less useful if you want specific, detailed information regarding the interactions the customer has had with your brand. NPS won’t reveal your customers’ pain points or why they feel a certain way.
So let’s go to the other end of the spectrum. This time, let’s say you collect customer reviews submitted in an open-text format. That’s going to give you great insights into key areas of your service. You’ll get detail, nitty-gritty feedback points that will shed light on how customers interact with your products and services. But what you won’t get this time around is measurable data. Your open-text reviews aren’t handy for powering BI reports. Nor do they translate easily into quantitative company-wide metrics.
In the haste to acquire consumer feedback, brands often don’t stop to think strategically about how they’re acquiring it. Review systems gather data, yes, but it doesn’t follow that they generate actionable insights.
To truly put review data to work in improving CX, then it’s essential to plan. Ask what you seek to understand and which metrics are best suited to extracting that kind of information.
Typically, you’ll need to apply a varied data acquisition format using a range of different metrics. Each metric needs to fit the question you’re asking and help you achieve the result you seek by posing it.
For example, use multiple choice questions for broad organizational scoring. Use text-based Q&A for user-focused original input. Use yes/no for a simple overview of trends on binary choices. And, of course, mix and match at every turn to get the data you need in the format you need it.
That’s how you can start using review data for the greater CX good rather than for simple vanity metrics.
Roxanne’s tips for personalization
What tips do you have for companies that want to improve their personalization strategies?
Honestly? Worry more about reducing the effort the customer needs to expend to access your products and services. Worry less about creating delight with personalized comms.
To clarify, I’m not saying that personalization is unimportant, far from it. But personalization is often put on a pedestal as the ultimate goal to strive for when impressing your customers.
In reality, what impresses customers more than an email on their birthday, or recommendations on what to buy next, is how smooth your product or service is to use.
How easy is your site to navigate? How findable and searchable is your content? How much time does it take to onboard? How understandable are your resources? How accessible is customer support? How easy is it to get a price and buy? How versatile is your customer service operation? How long does it take the customer to get from A to B in their journey?
When it comes down to it, factors like this play a much bigger role in customer satisfaction than personalization.
Think of personalization as the cherry on the cake. It’s a great and delicious touch. But if your cake is undercooked, no cherry on top will save it. So, make sure you’ve got your house in order before focusing on personalization strategies.
Do you think personalization and customer-centricity are going to become increasingly more relevant in the coming year? How so?
In a word, yes.
Think of it this way: no matter what product or service you offer, it’s not unique. Your competitors are all offering similar services. Differences in features and packages are only skin-deep.
Meanwhile, your customers have access to every business website, every comparison platform, and every independent forum, right from the palm of their hand. It’s only a smartphone search away.
So who wins the majority of customers in any one niche when price and services are all so similar and so easily comparable?
It’s the brands that make it easiest for the customers to buy from them. The brands that remove hurdles. The brands with real-time access to (quality) support. The brands treat the customer like a valued client rather than a ticket number.
Putting your customers’ experience at the core of your business is the best (and may eventually be the only) way to compete in such an informed, saturated market.
Social media pages have become crucial for companies in most industries, especially in eCommerce. What’s the most common mistake you see in a company’s social media strategy?
A costly and all-too-common social media mistake is in assuming you need to invest time and effort into every “cool” channel – even if that channel isn’t suited to your vertical.
Sure, you can sell via Instagram. It works fantastically for clothes retailers, for instance. But what if you’re a B2B software company with a complex product and a lengthy sales process that takes many months to close? The ROI you’ll get from pumping photos into Instagram will be slim to none.
Similarly, you don’t need a TikTok just because it’s the hip new channel. To be fair, some brands are performing well on the app. But realistically, unless you’ve got the time, resources, vision, and commitment to create innovative branded content that people want to watch, your corporate TikTok is going to be pointless at best, lame at worst. And again, if you’ve got a complex offering or “boring” B2B service, good luck with that meaningful TikTok ROI.
What’s the most insightful book you read in 2020?
I finally got round to reading. Don’t Make Me Think by Steve Krug in full, which I’d only ever read snippets of previously. It’s a (perhaps the) classic text on digital usability. I found it to be packed with useful insights on giving your customers the smoothest possible digital experience.
Some of my favorite quotes include the likes:
- “Making every page or screen self-evident is like having good lighting in a store: it just makes everything seem better.”
- “Accessibility is the right thing to do…How many opportunities do we have to dramatically improve people’s lives just by doing our job a little better?”
- “The fact that the people who built the site didn’t care enough to make things obvious — and easy — can erode our confidence in the site and the organization behind it.”
It looks like working from home is going to stay with us for the foreseeable future. How should Executives gear up to the changing times?
We need to see a push for an integrated tech stack, accessible wherever you are.
The rise in remote business technologies – each its own point solution – is creating something of a point pollution problem. New solutions and services are piling onto the heap; all intended to help employees cope with the remote work shift.
But as a result, this increasingly chaotic heap means that employees are actually ending up with ever-more data siloes to contend with.
So, this increased reliance on new tech tools calls for cohesion. Data needs to be better shareable between all these disparate systems. All while remaining protected and securely processed.
Executives, then, need to work on creating an optimized tech stack through the use of automation tools, middleware services, API gateways, and so on.
Last but not least, what is your favorite CX metric?
Every CX metric has its place, its purpose, and its value. But if we’re stripping things right to the core, the metric that matters most to a company’s success or failure is its rate of attrition. If you’re not closely tracking and understanding churn, how can you hope to reduce it? How can you hope to analyze why customers are unhappy or sand those sharp edges that are causing pain points?
Simply put, if you can’t keep hold of your customers, you can’t keep hold of your business.