Defining our destination
I have a question that still rings in my mind that was asked of the very first friend I made on my visits to New Jersey. I had grown up in small towns – in the mountains of Colorado and Western Montana. I was very fortunate to have my view of the world expanded with summer visits to the East Coast. The first time I was asked the question, I was not prepared.
“Why would you live there?” was that question. I stammered a response of “my mother wanted to live there, I didn’t have a choice”. The question was awkwardly worded in the same manner of my awkward answer. Later, I knew that question was more about why would “someone” want to live in an economically depressed area with very large distances between cities and people. I was usually prepared for that question after that. Why did I end up in Colorado? Why would I move from Colorado to Montana? What would make me move from Florida to New Jersey? Strangely no one really questioned my move from New Jersey to Colorado.
My latest move to Hawaii was similar – really – who wouldn’t want to live in Hawaii? However, a family member recently listed the pros and cons of living in Hawaii versus Florida. After all, this family member has lived in Florida for nearly 30 years. I have family there, the cost of living is lower, it is easier to get from place to place and while they both have strong tourism industries, the larger landmass certainly helps spread out the impact.
Why indeed? Then I really had to get philosophical in my response this time. My move was not about economics (it definitely was cheaper in other places) or convenience (we are generally considered the most remote large city in the world and certainly within the United States). The logical reasons for moving here eighteen months ago were not going to be a part of this argument. It really was about the indescribable reasons – the uniqueness of the situation, the seduction of the islands and the idea that it is almost like living in a foreign paradise without living in a foreign paradise. Something I call the intangible reasons.
The choices our customers make
Everyday, consumers, customers and clients make choices in the same way. If we ask them about the logic behind the decisions, they might even stammer. Why would a customer choose a store location that is further away from their home with higher prices? Why would a consumer pick the name brand over a private label or generic version? Why would a B2B client stay with a more expensive customer experience management platform provider that does not service them well rather than making the logical switch to a great platform like QuestionPro CX?
All good questions, even if the last one is a little self serving. Often, if asked, someone will try to rationalize their decision(s), but often it comes down to some intangibles. That store that is further away just “feels” cleaner. The private label brand didn’t have an eye-catching label. The customer experience program from the low-service yet expensive CX provider was so difficult to get up and running, I don’t ever want to go through that again.
When we look at all the surveys we field and all the data we collect, these types of reasons are unlikely to show up. I see it all the time, our client will hear about a reason for churn, then they will try to formulate an attribute question that adequately measures that perception. Yet it never really ends up capturing that customer “mood”, rather it just lengthens the survey and becomes yet another reporting metric that gets lost in the mix.
Some things just don’t have a number
We try in so many ways to put a number against an opinion, feeling or inclination. Even in adding that seemingly harmless “one more question” never really gets at what we are trying to accomplish. That goal should be put in place surrounding our CX Management Software – which is usually summarized as we want to retain customers and find what drives them to our competition so we can fix that. At QuestionPro, we have a revolutionary approach to measuring Net Promoter Score with NPS+. The idea was simple, we can replace all those attributes with just a one-click root cause identification. Why do we have them rate a bunch of “feelings” on a scale then try to create summary analytics? This is even difficult to do with customer sentiment analysis tools. Then some thought they would just add more tasks surrounding closed-loop tools, just creating more tasks in closing the customer feedback loop, but not defining strategy.
Early on in my days in customer experience, the goal of closed-loop customer experience management was to find those reasons; they just needed to have a low overall score then it was the role of the customer experience manager to understand the reason for that score. Despite the mass surveying of the population, those of us within the industry forget that our predefined list of attributes does not necessarily represent the entire consideration set of our customers and that attribute analytics will bubble up some themes, but not necessarily define the cause. My score of a seven might be very different from your perception of a seven. I could list many ways that our survey approach might be flawed, though someone might take that as a challenge to add more surveys.
Instead of asking each customer to participate in more surveys and longer surveys, within our CX Enterprise Software we have developed a CX Workflow that pushes the right survey at the right time. It is not a simple router with an overriding resting period, rather an engine that is designed to flexibly get feedback where it is most needed. Rather than just add “more sample size” to a particular touchpoint, we should take more time to listen to customers. I have a current client that puts people into the home. They have chosen to receive every survey response, not just the low ratings. They, in turn, are responsible for a discussion with each of their respective customers so they can understand things that went well in a bad move-in experience and those that could even be improved during a good experience. All ideas that could just be filtered out as an average now instead become a source for taking action even where there was no “number”. Every conversation can start with “Why would you choose to live here?”.