Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Customer Sentiment Drives Differentiation

By: Rick Kieser, Ascribe 


Customer Sentiment is more than just a feeling – it is a critical mile marker on the road to brand differentiation. In my last blog, I discussed the opportunity to compete based on customer experience – what that means, and how tricky it can be.  The follow up question: HOW do you harness CX insights to deliver a truly differentiated experience?


I also outlined three things you must do in order to truly compete on the basis of differentiated customer experience. Let’s dig in a little further to understand how you can use customer sentiment and insight from open-ended and other survey data to accomplish your goal.

1) Identify what makes (or could make) you special in the eyes of customers

When you ask customers about their experience, there are likely a few words they use more than others. In fitness centers, for example, “locker rooms” is a phrase mentioned over and over again.  Chances are this is an opportunity for differentiation. To determine whether or not you’re there yet, take a look at what your best customers – your biggest fans – say about your most important words. Are THESE customers satisfied with THIS part of the experience? Customer sentiment can reveal a wealth of directional cues about where you are and where you can and should be.

2) Understand the underlying drivers of the customer experience

It’s one thing to identify a key component of your customers’ experience; it’s a whole other challenge to understand what factors drive how they feel about it. To stick with the “locker room” example, we might guess that clean towels, friendly attendants or special amenities could contribute.  But how do we know what tips the scale between poor, average and exceptional? The point is, until you uncover those insights, you will only be guessing at what to invest in, tweak, reinforce or promote.

3) Deliver consistently, and monitor customer sentiment relative to your differentiator

Once you know what customers care about most and how to make sure YOU deliver it uniquely or better than anyone else, ongoing analysis can tell you if you are succeeding, if customer sentiment or experience is changing, and how consistently you are executing across your organization. All it can take to degrade your competitive advantage is one kink in the system, and watching variations among subsets of customers can help you stay ahead.


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