The Gist

  • Solving problems. Every company exists to solve problems with its product or service, and it's crucial to know if we are fulfilling that need.
  • Don’t just measure dissatisfaction. While we're good at measuring interactions with dissatisfied customers, we should also measure and interact with satisfied customers to further improve the relationship we have with them.
  • Understand and keep 'em happy. To understand customer needs, we should talk to customers and prospects, set up search reports for positive phrases, monitor review sites and respond to both good and bad reviews, engage with satisfied customers, do our research and encourage positivity.

I usually try to start my week by posting a little something extracted from my book "CX Trinity" on Twitter and LinkedIn with the hashtag #CXThought. The morning I sat down to start on this article I posted the following: Every company, no matter what its size, exists to solve problems with its product or service. We are in business to fulfill a need, and that need is our customers’ need.

That got me thinking: How do we know if we are fulfilling that need?

Related Article: Is Your Culture Creating a Great Customer Experience?

Measuring Happiness for Continual Improvement of Customer Relationships

When I logged in to the company Slack channel a few hours later, I saw a post from a member of our support team that led with, “please find below feedback from a satisfied customer.” Note his emphasis on the word satisfied: Reading through the customer’s feedback, I noticed his use of phrases like “exhaustive and complete,” “easy to use,” "easy to configure,” “adaptable,” “comfortable to do my work with,” “simple to run,” “easy to test,” “understand how it works” and “consistent.”

That feedback would indicate to me that the product he was using was definitely meeting his needs. But how do we as a product company capture and measure that?

Measuring the Good and the Bad CX

We are good at measuring interactions with dissatisfied customers, be that through tracking support calls, Net Promoter Scores, or negative reviews and mentions on various social media channels. And we need to do that to make sure we help those who are having a suboptimal experience with our products. But shouldn’t we also be measuring and interacting with those whose needs we are satisfying?

It’s nice to get a good review or a positive email, but let’s also use that to help us further improve the relationship we have with our customers.

In my last column I talked about using storytelling to drive the customer experience, and one of the areas I highlighted is developing empathy for our customers. At the end of the day that’s what I believe may be the most important metric of all: Are we providing the product or solution that satisfies our customers’ needs?

Related Article: Win-Win: Address Employee Experience for Better Customer Experience

Learning Opportunities

5 Steps to Understanding Customer Needs

Talk to Customers and Prospects

Understand why they are researching and buying your product. This may seem obvious, but I am constantly amazed at companies that make it difficult for their staff to interact with customers either through functional boundaries, or lack of access to customer-facing systems. Knowing the customer is the responsibility of everyone in the organization, not just the sales and support staff; I encourage companies to take a close look at their organization: Who actually interfaces with the customer? What information do they capture? Do they feed that back? Do the people who design your products, or create information and content that your customers use, actually have access to customers to get feedback? Do your staff members know what your customers do and how they actually use your products?

Set up Search Reports for Positive Phrases

Satisfied customers are rarely heard from. They don’t log support calls and rarely send emails. We need to listen out for them just as much as we need to listen to the unhappy customer, but it takes more effort. We need to be proactive in finding the happy customer. Remember the note from the support call I mentioned earlier and those phrases that were used. Find similar examples that fit your product or service, and then set up programmatic searches linking those phrases with your product names. You may be surprised at what you find.

Monitor Review Sites and Respond to Both Good and Bad Reviews

If you aren’t monitoring the third-party review sites and social media groups that include your industry — and just as importantly, your customers’ industries — you should be. These are great places to monitor customer sentiment and get a feel for what isn’t working, and equally what is. And don’t just read them; take part. Don’t just respond to the people who post with problems either. Thank the ones who say nice things about you.

Engage with Satisfied Customers — They Can Be Your Best Cheerleaders

In fact, go beyond just a “thank you” with satisfied customers; engage them in conversation. Find out what they like about your product, ask what problems it solved, get to understand them and their individual needs; doing so will then help you gain understanding of their broader industry needs. Engaging in conversation with happy customers helps develop an ongoing relationship that often results in positive word of mouth and peer recommendations.

Do Your Research

When interacting with your customers and developing those empathetic relationships, do your research. Know what products of yours, or even competitors’ products, they have and why they bought them. Understand the common challenges in their industries. Use the language they use.

Act Positive, Be Positive, Encourage Positivity

This doesn’t need much explanation. Happy customers are generally in a positive frame of mind. Encourage that and work with them so that that you can ensure that future interactions help them stay positive and happy.

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