Mar 16, 2023


Min Read


Gourab Majumder

How to use customer feedback to improve the customer journey?

customer feedback

customer journey

customer experience

Customer Satisfaction

Customer Retention

Introduction - The relationship between customer experience and customer journey

Doesn’t it feel fabulous that the concept of business success can be summed up in such simple language by the Amazon Mogul?

Truly, it is undeniable that in today’s market, the only true way to differentiate oneself is by providing an exceptional customer experience.

It is also true that listening to customers is the first step in understanding customer needs across the entire customer journey. This, in turn, leads to a great customer experience.

But can you surmise how vital the first step is?

Well, according to an article from WSJ, nearly 9% of US customers took action against certain consumer-facing brands due to poor customer service experience in 2022. This percentage has tripled from 3% in 2020.

74% of 1000 US customers surveyed in the same year claimed that they faced problems with the brand offerings. This claim was validated by the consulting firm Forrester whose research showed that there was a steep decline in the quality of customer experience offered by consumer-facing brands and government agencies in 2022.

Even the American Customer Satisfaction Index fell to 73.1 in 2022 from 77 in 2020 - a record fall in the last 28 years. It has led to a massive exodus of customers from brands.

Therefore, it implies that listening to your customers is immensely vital to take your business ahead.

You must also have a clear understanding of the relationship between the customer journey and customer experience before we move further in this discussion. The cumulative knowledge will help your brand to prevent customer exodus like the one mentioned above.

While customer journey refers to the sequence of interactions that the customer has with a brand, customer experience is the overall perception and feelings that they develop throughout this process of interaction.

Customer experience is heavily influenced by the quality of customer-brand touchpoints within the customer journey. Therefore, improving these touchpoints can lead to a better customer experience on behalf of the brand. Let’s check this story out.

Mr. Tai Bien at the helm of Toyota ‘Omotenashi’ (the Japanese art of understanding, anticipating, and going the extra mile for the customers without missing the direction of purpose) program was encountering a problem.

Toyota was the leader in the JD Power customer satisfaction surveys, and the fact was crystal clear with countless magazine publications and multiple awards that it earned over the years.

However, it just looked at the singular aspect of the experience of owning the car. The surveys were all about the service.

It offered no insight into what spurred someone to purchase the car when they walked into the showroom. There was no understanding of what makes a customer fall in love with the car they are driving. Worse still, these satisfaction surveys failed to shine any light on why a customer would likely return to the service station once their quota of free servicings was over.

This is when they decided to implement a customer mapping exercise and monitor and address every friction point within the customer journey.

Digging down to the roots helped Toyota reveal multiple ways to increase customer experience.

What is a customer journey?

While a customer journey might seem overtly simple from the surface - the brand offers a product and the customer buys it, it is actually a very deep concept. In fact, the customer journey plays a major role in enhancing customer experience.

The Fourth Industrial Revolution has also witnessed the customer journey becoming increasingly complex, as the average customers use nearly 10 channels to interact with a brand nowadays.

The customer journey can be explained as the sequence of interactions and touchpoints that a customer has with a business, starting from the pre-purchase awareness and research to the post-purchase follow-ups.

It includes every step of customer-brand interaction throughout the ongoing relationship between the two parties.

Since it is evident that customer expectations are rapidly evolving, the big question is - how do businesses keep up with these rapid changes and guarantee smooth customer journeys?

The answer lies in a customer journey map. It is an excellent way to better understand and optimize a customer journey.

Why do we need a customer journey map?

Customer journey mapping is critical in the face of constantly evolving customer expectations like -

80% of customers consider the experience with a company as important as its products

● 69% of the customers wish to talk to the company in real-time

● 60% of the customers in the UK expect a fully connected customer experience

● Irrespective of the business size, customers expect an omnichannel approach to customer service, sales, and marketing.

Hence, the importance lies in the strategic approach of understanding customer expectations better and optimizing the customer experience in that way.

Another important aspect of the current customer experience is personalization, with nearly 84% of customers wishing to be treated like a human rather than numbers by companies.

This is crucial for businesses in winning their allegiance. And what better way for enterprises to create a personalized experience across all the touchpoints for every individual across multiple channels than developing a customer journey map?

Being a visual representation of the customer journey, the customer journey map offers a range of upsides, including, but not limited to the following.

● It helps tell the story of customer experience with the brand across all the touchpoints

● It helps optimize the customer onboarding process

● Guarantees understanding of the buyer personas as they move from prospect to conversion across the stages of the buying funnel

● Develops a logical order for the consumer journey.

What is a journey builder tool?

A journey builder tool represents a software platform or application that helps visualize and map out the interactions and touchpoints that a customer has with a brand throughout the customer journey.

It leverages data analytics and tracking mechanisms to help businesses identify the potential pain points and areas of improvement in their areas of customer experience and finally implement targeted changes to improve customer satisfaction and retention.

How does the journey builder tool help in creating a customer journey map?

A company belonging to any sector can leverage the journey builder tool to create a graphical interface that represents the entire customer journey.

The use of a journey builder tool enables an organization to view their offered customer experience as an interconnected, interdependent journey and thereby develop a deep understanding of the customers and their expectations.

This, in turn, leads to an improvement in the overall customer experience, resulting in enhanced customer satisfaction and loyalty.

A journey builder tool follows these steps.

● Identifies the customer touchpoints with the brand across online and offline channels

● Maps the entire customer journey, starting from the initial awareness to the final purchase, and post-purchase consumer-brand relationships

● Connects all the touchpoints with the customer journey map in place and helps in understanding how they are interconnected and interdependent

● Identifies pain points across the customer journey like slow response times or shortage of information

● Makes a conclusion from the above and identifies possible areas of improvement in customer experience

● Inputs customer experience scores throughout the customer journey and develops an overall score.

Once it has developed an overall CX score after identifying the pain points and areas of improvement, a journey builder tool can assist the business in implementing targeted changes to enhance the customer experience across the buyer journey.

Thus, it can track the effectiveness of a customer experience strategy over time and optimize it continually to offer maximum customer satisfaction.

How do you build a Customer Experience Management (CXM) program based on this customer journey map?

Building a Customer Experience Management (CXM) program based on the customer journey map addresses the pain points that matter most to the customers and deliver a seamless, satisfying experience across every touchpoint.

But how to do the same?

The following steps taken by businesses will help you achieve your ulterior motive of developing an effective CXM program.

● Setting up listening posts at each touchpoint of the customer journey

Mr. Swaminarayan Chandramurthy, the head of an Indian fintech enterprise, developed the ‘Voice of the Customer’ (VoC) program which deals with gathering customer feedback for the organization.

He developed the program successfully by setting up customer listening posts - specific tools, locations, and mechanisms to collect customer feedback data along specific touchpoints on the customer journey.

The VoC program developed multiple listening posts at the customer support journey points. Since customer support was offered through telephonic conversations, emails, chatbots, IVR, etc., they were all pulled under the CXM umbrella.

Say customer support was identified as a touchpoint on the journey map.

After every support phone call, a survey form was sent out to collect customer feedback. Similarly, the chat conversation data was pulled into the system to develop the second listening post and another customer survey form was furnished.

While emails can generate survey links along with the emails being pulled into the system, an IVR can generate a post-IVR survey.

Therefore, a single customer journey point - customer support, established 4 listening posts.

These listening posts helped him -

● Understand individual customer needs and experiences close to real-time,

● Provide qualitative and emotional feedback to the overall quantitative feedback of the customer journey, and

● Offer specific measurements like tracking customer satisfaction scores for high-stakes touchpoints like product delivery or customer service interaction.

Thus, Mr. Chandramurthy ensured that his organization gained the right customer insights at the right time to take proper action. It helped him formulate a plan regarding what to keep, remove and evolve.

● Using AI to understand what people are feeling and how all these touchpoints across the journey nodes interconnect to form customer opinion

Windesk 3D, a SaaS company, wanted to create a tailor-made customer experience program to better understand their opinion and resolve their issues.

To do the same, they initially collected customer data by establishing multiple listening posts at every customer touchpoint. However, the most common methods of tracking customer sentiments have a big blind spot. They are mostly quantitative and cannot pick up on critical emotional responses.

According to research, this even causes qualitative surveys like Net Promoter Score (NPS) and Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) data to miss critical feedback.

Windesk operations individuals found out that even if customers provide positive feedback, they revealed their true thoughts and feelings in the open-ended comment boxes at the end of the surveys.

For example, one customer gave 10 out of 10 on the CSAT score. But in the comments section, he wrote - “The only thing I am a bit disappointed about is the pricing model. The enterprise tier is highly expensive compared to its industry peers, priced at USD 1000/month, and offers limited features.”

Therefore, they leveraged AI, typically NLP to identify sentiments, emotions, and other linguistic features by preprocessing and analyzing customer data. On the other hand, they built an ML model to predict customer sentiment and opinion based on the collected and processed data at every touchpoint.

This not only helped them find the missing link in the surveys but also helped them -

● Capture customer feedback in real-time

● Prioritize actions based on the feedback to improve customer experiences

● Prevent a decline in sales and

● Train employees based on what matters most to the customers.

Thus, they could understand the patterns and form connections between customer feedback and the touchpoints to communicate customer opinions to their stakeholders.

● Sharing these programs with everyone involved at each journey point

Since the interpreted customer data by AI models can be used to obtain customer feedback, sharing such programs effectively with everyone involved at each journey point should be a priority.

Customer feedback programs communicated effectively result in better customer service which has a domino effect on customer loyalty.

The global management consulting firm Bain and Company found out that improvements in customer service have a huge impact on customer loyalty.

The report found that in groceries, a one-point improvement in customer service satisfaction (on a scale of 1 to 5)  yielded a 5% increase in implied customer retention rates. However, in the case of consumer electronics, the same customer satisfaction score resulted in a 2% increment in customer retention rates.

But how to share such important data effectively?

After analyzing the data, it should be segregated based on common themes, issues, customer pain points, probable areas of improvement, etc.

Once that is done, the holistic customer feedback programs and their results should be shared with the team members involved at each touchpoint. They might include frontline employees, managers, customer service representatives, and anyone else who interacts with the customers.

The results of the feedback program can be shared using visual techniques like charts, graphs, etc. in the format of excel sheets and pdf files which are easy to understand and actionable.

Since providing the best possible customer experience should be a continuous process, sharing the program should follow certain best practices.

● Sharing customer feedback programs often

● Celebrating individual and team wins

● Avoiding blame games

● At times, providing complete autonomy to individuals at each journey point.

Based on the feedback programs, firms develop their action plans for offering better customer satisfaction and tracking their progress.

● Using predictive analytics to understand what you need to do at each point and delivering that ‘wow’ experience to the customers

An international travel and tourism company - Recce, developed an integrated customer feedback program to gain valuable insights into customer behavior and up their game of customer service experience.

Although Recce started with a bang, offering hundreds of curated travel and adventure plans to individuals, adventure enthusiasts, families, etc., it started encountering massive losses financially.

Worse, from the second year of its service, it started witnessing customer churn, although it was doing everything in its power to provide the best experience to its customers.

The backbone of Recce decided to formulate its own strategy for optimizing customer service experience and developed its own CXM program.

After creating multiple listening posts at every customer journey touchpoint, the company leveraged AI models to understand the responses and develop an interconnected customer opinion across journey nodes.

Thus, Recce could capture the emotional responses of its customers in real-time - how they felt about its service, using discrete emotions like joy, anger, love, surprise, etc. It also collected cognitive responses, conceptualized through customer evaluations like complaints, compliments, suggestions, etc. at every journey point.

Finally, after distributing the results of the CXM program to the employees involved at each journey point. However, the war was far from over!

Recce wanted to be the frontrunner in its category, and for that, it needed to deliver an experience that would enhance customer loyalty, and build its brand through word-of-mouth marketing.

To deliver a ‘wow’ experience that clearly involves offering a personalized, proactive, and optimized customer experience, Recce leveraged predictive analytics and went the extra mile by -

● Understanding individual customer preferences and behavioral patterns through customer data analysis and tailoring customer interactions

● Anticipating customer needs before they arose and offering solutions to build a seamless customer experience

● Identifying issues before they become major problems and solving them proactively

● Optimizing customer journeys according to the customer data regarding the touchpoints that are most crucial for them, and

● Improving customer retention rates by identifying patterns of the customers who are most likely to leave and taking a proactive approach to retain them.

Key takeaways and final thoughts

According to Stan Phelps, “Customer experience isn’t an expense. Managing customer experience bolsters your brand.”

It is undeniable that to build a successful brand, a business needs to prioritize its customers and offer a great customer experience. To do so successfully, it is important to find out the relationship between an overall great customer experience and the consumer journey.

Using a journey builder tool helps you in mapping your customer journey properly. Following this, businesses can utilize customer experience management platforms to generate customer feedback across the journey map, leverage AI to develop interconnected customer opinions, and share the results of the program with the employees. Businesses can also harness predictive analytics to deliver unparalleled customer experiences.

Thus, to offer a holistic service, businesses should understand how customer feedback is instrumental in improving the buyer’s journey and simultaneously creating an experience beyond belief.

With Numr CXM’s Journey Builder tool, you can also up the ante of your business, irrespective of its size or the industry that you belong to.

Say no to customer churn, and a resounding yes to fabulous customer experience!

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