The cat is out of the bag. Customer experience is a key business differentiator. 

It’s quickly becoming a priority, as companies champion slogans such as “We treat you like you’d treat you,” "It's everywhere you want to be" and "Be your way." 

According to Forrester, 90 percent of customer experience decision makers say a good experience is critical to success and 63 percent say the importance of customer experience has risen over time.

While most companies understand the importance of delivering a great customer experience, many are still grappling with how to put promises of exceptional service into action. 

Ask any customer experience expert for advice on the matter and you’re likely to hear “listen, analyze, act” — it’s a phrase coined by Forrester, which underscores the three essential pillars for great customer experiences. But what do we mean by listen, analyze, act?

Listen: Embrace All Sources

It’s important to know what your customers are saying about your brand — they want to be heard and you’ll need their feedback to survive. But when we say listen, we don’t just mean accept feedback. You’ll need to proactively collect customer opinions from a number of sources.

Companies commonly rely on surveys for collecting feedback and identifying trends. While surveys are a good place to start your customer experience journey, you’ll also need to incorporate feedback from several other sources to gain accurate insight into customer wants and needs. 

That’s because surveys only capture one small fragment of the customer experience and often limit the information a customer can share. That’s why it’s important to gather organic feedback as well. 

Collect insights from social channels (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram), forums, call centers, emails and so on. The more sources you’re able to pull from and the more insights you’re able to gather, the better.

Analyze: Connect Drivers to Metrics

Analyzing is the heart of a successful customer experience management (CEM) program. And for many, it is the most challenging step. 

Analyzing massive amounts of feedback and making sense of all the insights you’ve gathered is messy and can be hard to navigate. That said, it’s an essential step. There’s no point gathering feedback if you don’t plan on analyzing and truly understanding what it means.

When we analyze customer feedback the primary goal is to get at why customers feel the way they do about your brand. What is driving the feedback they’ve shared? What’s more, analyzing feedback also allows businesses to identify trends and then understand what is causing those trends. 

CX analytics engines can help automate the process, by detecting important feedback and filtering out the noise. These solutions also help businesses to analyze unstructured text, speech and images that commonly come from social channels and forums.

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Act: Respond and Strategize  

With a wealth of customer data and insight into what that data means, you’re now armed to take action. This is where your hard work culminates into real business value. 

Now that you know what your customers are thinking and why, you can respond to their feedback and optimize your business to best serve customers. Doing so gives you a leg up on the competition, builds relationships with customers and ensures that you are producing products and services that consumers actually want.

In today’s fast-moving digital environment, act means responding to customer feedback in real-time. This shows your customers that you are listening and helps build loyalty as you work directly with them to solve problems and answer questions. 

To maintain a frontline response to customer feedback, you need to monitor social channels carefully and respond to customers as soon as possible. The best way to ensure rapid response times is to create a social service team tasked with monitoring and engaging with customers.

Acting is also about optimizing business strategy by monitoring customer experience trends and adjusting accordingly. For example, if you notice that a significant number of customers are concerned about the artificial sweeteners you use in your beverages, you could produce a new beverage offering that only uses natural sweeteners. 

This sort of information should be funneled through the enterprise, so each department is able to adjust strategy based on real customer insights.

Simple Words, Big Meaning

There’s a lot more to the phrase “listen, analyze, act” than meets the eye. 

While the words are simple, there’s a lot that goes into each step. But businesses that understand these pillars of customer experience and know how to put them into play are sure to lead the pack as informed, responsive and customer-centric companies.

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