Customers want easy, omnichannel options that are often digital-first and quick, seamless resolutions. It’s that simple when measuring Voice of the Customer in 2022, according to Sean Erickson, global head of TTEC Engage.

“The pandemic forced brands to accelerate their use of digital channels to meet these needs, a trend that is here to stay,” Erickson told CMSWire. “But for all that the ‘digital front door’ provides, in the end, customers just want their problems solved.”

TTEC conducted a LinkedIn poll and found that 50% of respondents value “quick resolution” most in a good customer experience, followed by empathetic associates at 27%. Digital channel availability trailed with 14%, followed by personalization at 9%, according to Erickson.

Customer Satisfaction Metrics Take Center Stage

The takeaway? Brands need to know not only what their brands want, but how they feel.

Allison Tinnius, who runs HubSpot’s Voice of the Prospect program, told CMSWire researchers in the State of Digital Customer Experience 2021 report that excellent cross-functional working and a shared customer-first mindset across a VoC program team, a CX measurement team, a UX team and HubSpot’s leadership has “been key to our ability to adapt to customers and their needs so quickly.”

How are organizations measuring what their customers want and how they feel? In that same report, most CX professionals (37%) said they use customer satisfaction metrics to measure digital CX improvement. 

Trailing were:

  • Customer retention rate: 32%
  • Net promoter score: 30%
  • Customer lifetime value: 27%
  • Customer acquisition rate: 26%
  • Engagement metrics: 23%

What do these professionals want to know most about their customers?

  • Understanding buying behavior when online, including when and why they don't make a purchase
  • Customer attitudes about competitors, and how they compare to the respondent’s organization
  • Content and information needs, and the related effectiveness of content and campaigns
  • Customer budget and spending potential
  • More complete information about customer journeys, including site referrals and outward destinations

Related Article: What Lies Ahead for Voice of the Customer Initiatives

When NLP, Machine Learning Enter the CX Mix

Luis Angel-Lalanne, vice president, Customer Voice for the Global Services Group at American Express, told CMSWire in a recent interview that his teams are doubling down this year on really understanding how their customers feel when they interact with American Express. An Amex team member for more than 20 years, Angel-Lalanne recently led an effort to take a critical look at how the team was measuring customer sentiment, questioning if industry-standard methods and metrics are still relevant today. 

CX teams had been doing transactional surveys after customer calls for years. It was a well-established program through a survey vendor and served as American Express’ “frontline incentive scorecard,” Angel-Lalanne explained. 

However, Angel-Lalanne and teams began to question if they could go beyond those transactional surveys. Is there a way to truly get to how the customer feels during a transaction? Not just an average score of an entire transaction, but really get to the heart of the moment that mattered within that transaction and how it made the customer feel?

Learning Opportunities

“We’ve had quite a few debates around this,” said Angel-Lalanne, who speaks in-depth about his Voice of the Customer program in an upcoming episode of the CMSWire CX Decoded Podcast. That interview with Angel-Lalanne will be available next week on Tuesday, March 22.

The result? American Express shifted its Voice of the Customer paradigm, once formerly defined by a transactional survey program, to one driven by modeled sentiment using Natural Language Processing and machine learning. This now serves as the scorecard metric for the financial giant’s front-line care professionals.

“With transactional, you’re not really getting the full journey,” Angel-Lalanne said. “We wanted to get a more journey-level view of our surveys.”

Related Article: Do You Need Customer Journey Orchestration?

Building an Internal Sentiment Model

To succeed in its endeavor, American Express took a major paradigm shift. Current survey technology provided an average sentiment score, but it wasn’t granular enough to get at the heart of what customers truly felt when interacting with the company. Therefore, they built in their own sentiment model to help them determine the significant event in a transaction that led customers to feel what they feel. Did the interaction resolve itself or does it need follow-up actions?

“So that's why we've gone down the path of building our own model,” Angel-Lalanne said. “And what's really cool to see is so far, the survey and the model agree like 70% of the time, and when they don't we're like OK, now let's go look at this.”

American Express is now in the process of socializing the model across the entire servicing network at American Express.

“Everyone from team leaders up to Denise Pickett, who runs the (Global Services Group) organization, is really open to it,” Angel-Lalanne said. “Even the frontline folks. And we were really worried that our frontline agents were going to be resistant to a black box. But I think what I've seen so far is people have trust that if it's a model, it's fair." It's not, he added, based solely on a customer giving an agent a grade.

Tune in to hear more about Luis Angel-Lalanne’s and American Express' Voice of the Customer’s paradigm shift on CX Decoded next week. It publishes to CMSWire on Tuesday, March 22.