I have been keeping tabs on the Clarabridge Customer Connections conference in Las Vegas Florida via Twitter. Clarabridge is a vendor in the analytics world and one of the vendors I follow. There have been some interesting tidbits that have come across my activity stream about the role and need of analytics going forward, how to better use data, what is Big Data and why it matters. Some good stuff indeed.
Then, I see this tweet from Seth Grimes come across my stream.
First, let me absolve Seth of any crimes – he is merely reporting the content being presented – my rant is not against him (whom I respect and whose work is very grounded when it comes to analytics and sentiment analysis — if you don’t follow him on Twitter or his blog, you should).
How can anyone even conceive not asking the client?
Direct questioning of the client is a sine-qua-non requirement of any listening program.
There is no possible way that any organization, under any circumstances can get sufficient data and knowledge about the customer needs, wants, and desires simply by “listening”. Sure, the unstructured feedback you can get from listening is more likely to have truthful statements than poorly done surveys, and the volume of unstructured feedback collected in a listening program can be 20x to 100x the volume to structured feedback collected in surveys – but there is no comparison between one and the other. We tried this before, where CRM and the operational and transactional data it produces was going to generate a “360-degree” view of the customer – that ended up being more like a “220-ish-degree” view of the customer since we were missing both the attitudinal and sentimental aspects of them, both provided by surveys.
Listening and Surveys have a place in a well executed Feedback Management initiative.
If you want to understand why your customer did something, or how they feel about it you must ask them. Was the experience effective? Did we do a good job? Can we do something better?
I can see the thought process behind this: if something was wrong, the customer will find a way to express themselves in other channels and we will capture that in our listening program. Possible, but not always likely. Not to mention that you would then never find out what you did right (maybe what you did exceptionally well, but not what you did just right – which is about 70%+ of the interactions.
There are three problems with that thought process:
- Your listening program may not capture that specific piece of information
- The customer may not be interested in using the channels you listen on
- The customer may not be inclined to share their thoughts in public
How do you bypass those problems? Ask them.
Would you rely on a listening program to know what is going on with your kids? What they like and dislike? Would you rely on a listening program to find out why your spouse is unhappy? (Editor’s Note: experience speaking, don’t try that one – back to the regularly scheduled post).
The bottom line: relying entirely on your listening program may capture the feedback from the client, but without the surveys to corroborate you are just likely to end up “greasing squeeky wheels”, not solving root causes of problems. You must query customers directly to find out what is going on, there is no substitute for it. No matter how good your company may be at analytics or how much you have improved your listening skills.
Do yourself a favor and have a listening program in place. Make it one portion of a well executed Feedback Management program that includes both structured and unstructured feedback.
You will thank me later.