On Thursday, I had the privilege of speaking at the Argyle Customer Experience Leadership forum in Boston. The cozy District Hall venue, nestled in Boston’s Seaport “Innovation” District, provided a comfortable space for Customer Experience (CX) practitioners to share insights and swap war stories.
My panel tackled “Data’s Growing Role in Deepening Knowledge About Customer Insights.” Moderator Ellen Cory of Marriott, and Panelists Hiram Barber of Schneider Electric and Marijke Maartense of Philips Healthcare, joined me in speaking about ways to translate data into actionable consumer insights and better decision making. We suggested some specific tactics for discovering, segmenting, and engaging consumers, as well as how to use real-time data to stay on top of trends as they emerge. And, we talked about where we saw the role of data in the customer experience evolving in the future.
For my part, I focused on the advantages of tapping into unstructured data sources, such as support requests or survey verbatims, to really enhance a CX team’s understanding of the Voice of the Customer. I shared success stories from some of Luminoso’s clients who found insights by looking at thousands of support tickets and spotting emerging issues that arose from a recent launch.
I also talked about the importance of combining both unstructured and structured data to examine customer segments, such as looking at the top concepts mentioned across all 1-star reviews, or seeing what 18-24 year olds cared about most vs other age groups. Finally, I talked about how the newfound speed of NLP implementation is affecting the future of CX, by encouraging shorter, more frequent surveys with open-ended questions, as CX leaders begin to rely on these improvements in natural language technology.
Throughout the event, I found a consistency of spirit that I’ve come to associate with past CX-focused events. It comes from being surrounded by people interested in making their companies more customer centric. But I did walk out with three other takeaways:
CX ownership is often not centered. While many attendees had “customer experience” somewhere in their title, I met representatives from marketing, technical operations, support, warranty or loyalty programs, and other adjacent departments. And while some were laser-focused on understanding the Voice of the Customer or optimizing CX scores, others were wading through other goals thrown at their feet.
CX maturity levels vary greatly. Some attendees had already established a range of CX initiatives — including two already analyzing their unstructured data, one a Luminoso client! — and were looking for ways to optimize their efforts. Others were barely even surveying or monitoring their clients, and were trying to figure out how to get started. Many ‘teams’ were just one person holding everything together by force of will, while other teams had multiple data-crunching analysts behind the scenes with a range of internal customers depending on their input.
No one’s figured it out yet. CX is not a solved problem by any means. Even the CX leaders at the event who shared success stories indicated that they had much to learn. Beyond establishing metrics or KPIs, which vary from business to business, CX leaders are often thrust into the position and make do with what they have. Which is why more than a few teams are still reading all of their verbatims, coding them manually, and trying to pick up enough of a narrative to build an argument for the next initiative.
Events like this one are a great way to understand how those in CX are making progress within their organizations. I hope to see you at a future event.
Author: Jeff Foley, head of Marketing at Luminoso, has spent over 22 years working with CRM, CX, and natural language technologies.