5 Customer Experience Tools

I’m often asked about which tools I use when evaluating customer experience issues for my clients. The answer, not surprisingly, is the classic consultant refrain: It depends. (Annoying, right!?)

There are, however, some tools anyone focused on their own customer experience can use. Of course, the size, structure and offerings of your company make a difference. Bigger companies need robust ways to interact with many customers. Service organizations rely on personal relationships which are often challenging to define. This list, I hope, is for anyone in any organization, especially if you’re just looking to start.

Want to evaluate your own customer experience in a way beyond metrics? Start here.

1. Social Media Listening Post

If you don’t already, set up some serious search to monitor what customers are saying (or not saying) about your brand. A few ideas:

  • Your brand name(s)
  • Misspellings
  • Public figures in your leadership team
  • Products
  • Competitors’ keywords
  • Common search terms
  • Verbs – what do customers do with your products?

Track the conversations to start seeing problems before they become major challenges. Notice trends. Watch for the positive – reward loyal and vocal customers before they ask!

I have used Hootsuite, Google alerts, Google Blog Search and many others for this type of search.

2. Customer Experience Suggestion Box

This doesn’t always look like a box – sometimes it’s an Intranet section or email address. In any case, make sure there is somewhere employees can contribute to the larger conversation about the customer experience. Here’s the trick, though – it only works if it’s PROMOTED and if the suggestions are reviewed. Too often, good intentions start programs like this and lose steam quickly because the contributors never hear anything about the suggestions they make. Make reviewing the employee feedback part of your regular communications. Employees know what is working and what isn’t with the experience. Ask them first!

3. Customer Feedback Mechanisms

Guess who else knows what is working and what isn’t? That’s right, your very customers. Ensure they have many ways to tell you. It’s not just surveys – it’s simple techniques like calling random ones to find out about their experience; providing anonymous numbers to call to leave feedback or contact forms on web sites. Surveys are great, but are often lacking the questions customers REALLY want to discuss.

4. Behavioral Analytics

Happy customers are great, but only if they are actually becoming (and staying) customers. Tracking Facebook Likes doesn’t tell you as much about customer behavior as where they are clicking on your web site. What search terms are being used? Do sales increase online after a customer visits one of your stores? There are many ways to consider actual behavior, not just metrics. If customers are searching for a specific help term, that is a customer experience issue. It might be time to address it.

5. CRM

Notice I have this last. CRM = Customer Relationship Management and often it is sold as a software solution. I disagree. CRM itself is the idea of a centralized, accessible place to track individual customer relationships throughout the company. According to Wikipedia:

It involves using technology to organize, automate, and synchronize business processes—principally sales activities, but also those for marketing, customer service, and technical support.

Any company can (and should) have a CRM “system.” The system, however, doesn’t have to be a billion dollar software implementation as it often is for large companies. The system can be any type of tracking system (even a spreadsheet) that is accessible by all who would interact with the customer.

So there you have it. 5 “Tools” to help anyone with staying on top of their organization’s customer experience. This is no way exhaustive. What tools do you think are vital?

Photo credit: magnuscanis via Creative Commons license

Jeannie Walters

Jeannie Walters is the Chief Customer Experience Investigator™ and founder of 360Connext, a global consulting firm specializing in the cornerstones of customer experience: customer engagement, employee engagement and connections like social media. 360Connext serves mid-market companies and larger by helping them evaluate their true customer experience. The evaluations always lead to improvements which then lead to results like increased online conversions or loyalty.

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4 comments
ginidietrich
ginidietrich

I particularly like your advice about the CRM not having to be some big, expensive platform. We have a client who was sold a huge software package and now no one uses it because it's too cumbersome. Sometimes we just have to keep it simple. Why is that so hard?

jeanniecw
jeanniecw moderator

 @ginidietrich Thanks. I've heard that rates for failures of implementation of those huge systems is steadily over 50%. The CRM industry denies this, but it's enough to give pause. Social CRM spending ALONE will reach $1 Billion this year - with a B! I think unfortunately the software, as robust and magical as it can be, often becomes the focus instead of what it's supposed to do.

jeanniecw
jeanniecw moderator

 @ginidietrich And often, the very people charged with using the system have created some pretty decent work-arounds to get through that time! Those become habit, making the whole thing more difficult to implement. HOWEVER - big data is really important to understanding your customers, so I hope the new products and systems out there can help everyone gain access to the important info sooner rather than later. Some good things are happening around this.

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