Dialogues on delight

Vinod Muthukrishnan | Updated on January 24, 2018 Published on November 19, 2015

Go mobile: New feedback channels use mobile and cloud technologiesTARIKVISION/SHUTTERSTOCK.COM

Nifty technology to gauge customer satisfaction is vital in a connected world

Quick exercise: Think about the last time a product or service you experienced completely knocked your socks off. Reminisce about the glow of satisfaction and value for money that washed over you for the smart choice you had made. It could be electronics, fashion apparel or even an expensive meal you chose to pamper yourself or your family with. The attentive store clerk or waiter or even a punctual and smiling delivery boy probably played a role in delivering that experience.

Now think about the time that you had a negative experience. A product failing just a few seconds after you savaged the packing off it, a poorly put together meal or even a simple evening at the cinema hall where unclean seats, a packed snacks counter and loud wailing children brought your evening down faster than you could cry foul. Now which of these experiences left a more indelible experience? Those with our-glasses-half-full-approach to life will, of course, still choose to look at the brighter side of life. But which brand were you quicker to berate, which service quicker to ridicule on your Twitter profile? How many of our friends and families did we actually evangelise our good experience to?

The internet has changed how our customers engage with us. They have access to ad blockers to keep our message at bay but brands are openly susceptible to bullets fired from mobile devices when expectations are not met. In the age of everything instant – noodles to karma – how can brands be more responsive to customer satisfaction and take corrective measures to be seen as a breed apart from the competition? The answer surely lies in technology. The same technology that customers are already consuming information on and crowdsourcing opinions in their choice to get the best deals and customer experience.

Feedback, a complex affair

The concept of gathering customer feedback is obviously not new. But customer feedback can only truly make business impact if it is real-time, seeks the right answers and can be analysed to make sense beyond plain numbers.

Customers are no longer simply walking into your store to buy products today. As a brand we have multi-touch points of engagement with customers across advertising, the website, social media, digital campaigns, reviews and ratings by their fellow customers.

Brands have to speak different languages at these touch points and are susceptible to making mistakes. Technology has today made it possible to collect real-time feedback across these multiple touch-points to understand where exactly the brand is ‘bleeding’ from to take corrective action.

One key metric revolves around the concept of Net Promoter Score (NPS), a brainchild of Bain & Company, which has been helping brands understand how likely a customer is to be an evangelist for them. Speaking at a recent event based on customer delight success stories, Dunigan O’Keeffe, their Partner and Head of Strategy Practice, APAC, shared some key insights on how the concept of NPS is slowly gathering steam in India. According to O’Keeffe, “Indian companies are ranking quite higher than global benchmarks when it comes to NPS.

This is a reflection of the customer-centric approach of many large Indian corporates. It is our belief that a successful business strategy based around NPS begins at the top with the CEO and filters down to each employee to create that intrinsic culture. Today technology will play a great role in getting brands more real-time and far reaching insights into customer satisfaction.”

Reactions in real time

Interestingly, it is the larger brands that stand to benefit most from the availability of real-time, cloud-based customer feedback channels with in-built analysis. These brands have hitherto had lumbering feedback channels barely able to keep up with their millions of customers.

This meant that trends, good or bad, were identified and leveraged or suppressed after much delay. A good example of large, multi-level and omnichannel companies benefiting is the Aditya Birla Group.

Its internally named ‘Mission Happiness’ is based on the NPS concept and is driven top down right from the CEO, to the brand managers and in turn the customer facing staff delivering the last mile experience. With more than a million data points collected, this is a model that is truly putting customers at the centre of the business.

Another well known brand adopting new-age customer satisfaction measuring technology is Titan. With over 320 stores across India, and a significant e-commerce presence, Titan has shifted away from feedback books to a more mobile- and cloud-based approach.

This customer feedback is now centrally available online and does not have the disadvantages of capturing anecdotal and hard-to-analyse data.

If product pricing and customer experience are the two main factors that influence customer decision-making, offline brands can fight online discounts these days by focusing more on the customer experience part of things.

For hybrid (online and offline) brands such as Titan, and the Aditya Birla Group, this is an added advantage to sharpen their customer focus.

What this means for brands, in a nutshell, is that as the competition gets tougher and customers more demanding, listening to them is good, but doing so in a way that is real-time, actionable and technologically robust is better.

The rising start-up economy is giving established brands a run for their money. While disruptive technology can change market dynamics in the flash of an eye, it can also let you keep your customers happy and competition at bay.

Feedback mechanisms which are flexible, always online, multi-touch point based and easy to use are the answer to understanding your customers, their needs.

More importantly, using analytics to discover patterns, insights and key action points is paramount in really elevating customer experiences – the need of the hour today.

Vinod Muthukrishnan is CEO and Co-Founder, CloudCherry

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Published on November 19, 2015
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