The Future of VoC Actionable Insights: Assistance Engines

Earlier this week I gave a speech called “The Future of CX: Humanistic, Prescriptive, and Responsive.” During that session, I discussed a missing link in today’s VoC technology: Assistance Engines. Here’s a picture of the future that I have in mind.

Architecture For Prescriptive Customer Insights

Before I describe Assistance Engines, I want to go back to 2010 when I labelled VoC technologies as Customer Insight & Action (CIA) Platforms. The naming was important, because it correctly identified that vendors needed to focus more on “insight & action” than on customer feedback.

It turns out that this is still the case. In the future, VoC vendors will be completely judged by results that their clients get from taking actions on the insights that these vendors provide.

Action is the holy grail! All of the efforts around surveying, integrating data, analyzing, etc. are only as valuable as the actions that they lead to. Most of the vendors now understand this key concept, and are working feverishly to improve the actionability of the insights they provide.

Companies still have a long way to go in taking action on their VoC insights. As you can see in our recent infographic, only 24% of large companies think they are good at taking action.

To help refine the insights, most vendors are developing some sort of an Intelligence Engine. This technology combines direct customer feedback with other customer information, and then applies different analytical and machine learning approaches to create predictive insights about large groups of customers.

While this technology is helping companies to better understand their customers, the output does not often translate directly into actionable insights. Why not? Because there’s a wide gap between insights from the Intelligence Engine which are often delivered in charts and dashboards, and the types of information that employees need to make their a day-to-day decisions.

No matter how much smarter these platforms get about customers, they won’t be truly actionable until they also get smarter about employees.

That’s where Assistance Engines come into play. What is an Assistance Engine?

A set of technologies that uses analytics and machine learning to provide increasingly valuable advice to help different employees across an organization make customer-centric decisions.

Or you can think of it more simply as…

Technology that recommends employee actions based on customer insights.

Assistance Engines will provide timely, actionable insights that are embedded within role-based processes, and delivered as answers and recommendations, not as charts and numbers. This technology will also fine-tune its recommendations based on feedback from employees about the types of recommendations that they find valuable.

Think of the Assistance Engine as being like an analyst who works for the employee. A good analyst can comb through data in an Intelligence Engine, understanding her bosses needs, and translate the customer insights into a very relevant set of recommendations. Over time, the analyst gets better at anticipating what her boss needs or wants to see.

Here are some examples of insights that an Assistance Engine might deliver (think about the employee simply asking Alexa a question):

  • When a product manager is defining a new product, the Assistance Engine will recommend a set of features that a product manager should include in its next release.
  • When a contact center supervisor finds that she has 15 minutes free, the Assistance Engine can tell her which agent to spend time with and what to cover during the session.
  • When an executive is looking to improve the companies NPS, the Assistance Engine will identify the regions to focus on and the activities that should be improved in those regions.

The early use cases for Assistance Engines will likely focus on recommendations that are already being made by analysts. But instead of having someone spend a lot of time manually digging through troves of data, the Assistance Engine will simply answer end users’ questions.

Companies still have a long way to go in building out their Intelligence Engines, so we do not expect to see Assistance Engines become mainstream for several years. But the maturing of end-user responsive analytics such as IBM Watson and Amazon Analytics will help accelerate the development.

The bottom line: Actionability requires more focus on employees.

 

Building A Strong Voice of The Customer Program (Infographic)

Voice of the Customer (VoC) programs are a critical component for many CX efforts. This infographic examines those efforts. Make sure to visit our VoC/NPS Resource Page for more help in building your VoC program.

Here are links to download different versions of the infographic:

Here are links to the research referenced in the infographic:

Report: Propelling Experience Design Across An Organization

Propelling Experience Design Across An OrganizationWe just published a Temkin Group report, Propelling Experience Design Across An Organization.

Although customer experience (CX) management has become a relatively common activity within large organizations, companies still struggle to deliver consistently positive experiences to their customers. One major issue impeding companies’ current CX efforts is that few organizations design customer interactions in a purposeful and deliberate manner. This report explores how companies can use Experience Design – which we define as a repeatable, human-centric approach for creating emotionally resonant interactions – to craft consistently excellent interactions and how they can share and spread these capabilities across the entire organization.

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Here are some highlights from this report:

  • The Experience Design process is made up of three generic phases (Clarification, Generation, Realization), each of which contains two stages (empathize and synthesize, conceptualize and materialize, scrutinize and actualize).
  • To help propel Experience Design capabilities across the organization, we developed The Federated Experience Design Model, which is made up of three tiers of employees – Experts, Boosters, and Dabblers.
  • We share over 30 examples of best practices from companies that are spreading and sharing Experience Design capabilities throughout their entire organization.
  • We also provide some tools that employees can use across the six stages of the Experience Design process.

Here are two of the 22 figures in the report:

Process, Mindsets, and Skills of Experience DesignFederated Experience Design Model

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The move towards propelling CX across an organization is part of a broader trend that we describe in the report, The Federated Customer Experience Model.

Report: The State of CX Management, 2018

The State of Customer Experience (CX) Management, 2018We just published a Temkin Group report, The State of CX Management, 2018.

Temkin Group has evaluated the state of Customer Experience (CX) management at large companies for nine years in a row. This year, the benchmark is based on a survey of 171 companies with at least $500 million in annual revenues. Respondents not only answered questions about CX management, they also completed our CX Competency and Maturity Assessment. When we analyzed organizations’ CX efforts and progress towards maturity, we found that:

  • While only 7% of companies view themselves as industry leaders in CX today, 54% aspire to be leaders within three years.
  • Only 13% of companies have reached the top two (out of six) levels of CX maturity.
  • Of the four CX Core Competencies, Compelling Brand Values continues to be the most problematic for companies.
  • Twenty-two percent of firms have at least 21 FTEs in their centralized CX groups.
  • Companies rate themselves highest for customer insights & analysis and weakest for ambassador programs.
  • Voice of the customer software and market research vendors are the most valuable CX tools and services.
  • Two-thirds of companies think that their phone agents typical deliver a good experience, while only 11% feel that way about chat bots.
  • The top obstacle that companies face is other competing priorities, which has been at the top of the list for several years.
  • When we compared CX leaders with CX laggards, we discovered that the leaders enjoy stronger financial results, are more likely to have senior executives leading company-wide CX efforts, employ more full-time CX employees, use more experience design agencies, and feel more supported by senior leaders.
  • CX leaders are more likely to describe their culture as being Customer- or Mission-Centric, while CX laggards are more likely to describe theirs as Sales- or Profit-Centric.

This report also includes an assessment that companies can use to benchmark their CX efforts and capabilities.

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Here are the results from Temkin Group’s CX Competency & Maturity Assessment:

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Temkin Group's FREE Online Customer Experience (CX) Competency & Maturity AssessmentWant to gauge your organization’s customer experience maturity or how well it’s doing across the Four CX Core Competencies? You can access Temkin Group’s online CX Competency & Maturity Assessment… and it’s FREE.

Report: 2018 Temkin Experience Ratings (U.S.)

2018 Temkin Experience Ratings: Customer Experience (CX) Benchmark of 318 U.S. Companies2018 marks the eighth straight year that we’ve published the Temkin Experience Ratings, a cross-industry, open standard benchmark of customer experience.

To generate these Ratings, we asked 10,000 U.S. consumers to rate their recent interactions with 318 companies across 20 industries and then evaluated their experiences across three dimensions: success, effort, and emotion. Here are some highlights:

  • Wegmans, H-E-B, Citizens, credit unions, Publix, and Subway earned the highest overall ratings, while CarMax, Spirit Airlines, Optimum, Medicaid, and Comcast received the lowest.
  • When we compared individual company’s ratings with their industry averages, we found that Southwest Airlines and Georgia Power most outperformed their peers, while CarMax and Spirit Airlines fell farthest behind their competitors.
  • The Ratings declined slightly this year, driven mostly by a drop in the emotion component scores.
  • To improve customer experience, companies need to master four competencies: Purposeful Leadership, Compelling Brand Values, Employee Engagement, and Customer Connectedness

Download report for FreeDownload free report: 2018 Temkin Experience Ratings (Customer Experience Benchmark) You can also download the dataset in Excel for $395

We have also published industry snapshots for all 20 industries.

Have questions? See our FAQs about the Temkin Experience Ratings and watch this previously recorded webinar.

Here are the top and bottom companies in the ratings:

2018 Temkin Experience Ratings: Customer Experience (CX) Leaders & Laggards

***See how your company can reference these results or
display a badge for top 10% and industry leaders***

Here’s how the industries compare with each other:

2018 Temkin Experience Ratings: Customer Experience (CX) Benchmark Data for 20 Industries

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You can also download the dataset in Excel for $395

Get the Data

Purchase the 2018 Temkin Experience Ratings datasetDo you want to see all of the data from the 2018 Temkin Experience Ratings? You can purchase an excel spreadsheet for $395. Here’s a sample of the spreadsheet (.xls).

To view all of our ratings (experience, trust, forgiveness, customer service, and web experience), visit the Temkin Ratings website

Temkin Ratings website

Customer Focus Boosts Employee & Business Performance

It turns out that having a customer focus isn’t only good for customers, but it’s also good for employees and financial results.

We asked more than 5,000 U.S. employees to identify what they felt was the top priority for their senior executives. We also asked them about their work efforts and the financial performance of their organization. As you can see in the chart below:

  • When senior executives care the most about customers’ needs, employees try their hardest and the companies have the best financial results.
  • The next best place for senior executives to focus is on fulfilling the organizations mission.
  • When senior executives are mostly focused on generating more profits, they end up with the worst employee and financial performance.

Research on 5,000+ employees shows that companies that focus on customers have better financial results and employees that try harder.The bottom line: Focus on your customers, not on your profits.

Employee Engagement: A Goldmine of Untapped Value (Infographic)

Employee Engagement is one of Temkin Group’s Four CX Core Competencies. In other words, you can’t be customer-centric unless you have a highly engaged workforce. Make sure to visit our Employee Engagement Page.

Here are links to download different versions of the infographic:

Here are links to the research referenced in the infographic:

The Future of VoC: Insight & Action, Not Feedback

The vendor market for Voice of the Customer (VoC) products and services has been heating up, with numerous acquisitions and mergers. All of this is happening as companies are trying to figure out how to run successful VoC programs. It appears that we on the verge of the next stage in evolution for VoC. So I decided to step back and look at the overall market.

VoC Programs Need To Grow Up

Our research shows that nearly three-quarters of large companies rate their voice of the customer (VoC) programs as being successful (only 8% say that they’ve been unsuccessful). That’s great—infusing almost any type of customer insights into a business can add value. 

Level of Maturity for Voice of the Customer (VoC) Programs in Large Enterprises

However, companies aren’t close to reaching their full potential. Only 14% of companies have reached the the two highest levels of Temkin Group’s VoC Maturity Model.

One of the reasons for this immaturity is a simple fact: creating and managing great VoC programs isn’t easy. They take significant leadership commitment and a  variety of expertise. In many cases, however, companies don’t redesign their approach to customer insights, they simply end up updating and automating many of their historical practices.

The big change for VoC programs is that they must focus more on enabling action across their organization. We found that only 24% of large firms think they are good at making changes to the business based on the insights. For VoC programs to fully mature, they need to become hyper-focused on generating insights in the right form at the right time to help people across their organizations make better, more informed decisions.

As if that’s not enough to work on, companies will need to address Six Customer Insight Trends that will reshape VoC programs: 1) Deep Empathy, Not Stacks of Metrics; 2) Continuous Insights, Not Periodic Studies; 3) Customer Journeys, Not Isolated Interactions; 4) Useful Prescriptions, Not Past Descriptions; 5) Enterprise Intelligence, Not Customer Feedback; and 6) Mobile First, Not Mobile Responsive.

VoC Vendors Need To Grow Up

In 2010, I rejected the label “Enterprise Feedback Management (EFM)” that was being used to describe vendors that provided technology and services for VoC programs. Instead of EFM, I labeled them as Customer Insight and Action (CIA) Platforms and here’s why:

To some degree, surveying functionality is becoming a commodity. Organizations are recognizing that feedback is not valuable on its own; it only becomes valuable when it’s used as an input to insights which drive some type of action. So the focus is no longer on feedback, but on insight and action. Hence, Customer Insight and Action (CIA) Platforms.

Fast forward to 2018 and I think that CIA Platforms is still the correct name for these offerings (from vendors such as Confimit, InMoment, MaritzCX, Medallia, and Qualtrics). They continue to evolve towards this description I used in 2010:

CIA Platforms need to support closed-loop voice of the customer (VoC) programs that are going beyond structured, solicited feedback (traditional surveys). With the maturing of text analytics and the rise of social media, companies are increasingly mining insights from unstructured, unsolicited feedback like customer comments on surveys, notes and verbatims from contact center conversations, inbound emails, online chats, social media sites, customer feedback comments, etc

But new channels of feedback (also called “listening posts”) are not the only element that distinguishes CIA Platforms from their predecessors. These applications also provide actionable insights by:

  • Incorporating non-feedback data like customer profiles and transactional history
  • Distributing tailored, contextual insights across an organization
  • Providing alerts based on specific criteria
  • Supporting workflow associated with taking action based on the insights
  • Integrating with other applications like CRM and workforce management

Next Generation CIA Platforms

Okay, so we got that right eight years ago. What’s next? Here’s where I think the market is heading for enterprise CIA Platforms:

  • Advanced analytics. We’ll see a considerable increase in the use of predictive analytics and the use of speech analytics to unlock insights from invaluable contact center conversations.
  • and way smarter analytics. The current set of analytics are mostly designed for analysts to uncover insights, but we’ll see more “packaged” analytics that mask complexity to provide tailored recommendations that improve high-impact decisions across the enterprise.
  • More focus on casual users.The days of generic metrics and dashboards will hopefully be a thing of the past. The information provided to people will be specific to their roles, and will proactively highlight the information that they need to know. It may take the form of highly customized dashboards, but it could also be a monthly infographic that can be posted in the lunchroom for hourly workers.
  • Less surveys, but more data. We already see in our research that organizations are becoming less reliant on surveys. This feedback will become less about understanding what’s being said by individual customers, and more about using the insights in predictive models to extrapolate what it might mean across entire segments of customers. This will require companies to integrate feedback with lots of customer data from other systems.
  • More selective, targeted feedback. Companies will get better at strategic sampling. What is this? Being smarter about who they get feedback from and when they get that feedback. The current approach of trying to hear from as many customers a possible in as many places as possible is conceptually attractive, but it’s an inefficient use of internal resources, and it puts a strain on an even more important commodity—customers’ time and attention.
  • Easier to use, but less “self-service.” In many cases, large enterprises lack the internal skills and know how to create and sustain a strong VoC program. While the technology platforms will continue to become easier for companies to administer and use without vendor support, strong VoC programs will increasingly recognize the need to tap into externally provided support across a number of areas, including:
    • Program setup
    • Data management
    • Sampling strategies
    • Dashboard design
    • Analytics
    • Insight distribution
    • Operational redesign

The bottom line: VoC programs and vendors need a makeover.

12 CX Factoids: Ratings, People, and Leadership (Infographic)

It’s hard to keep up with everything that Temkin Group published in 2017, so we put together a couple of infographics to highlight some of the key data insights. The initial infographic examined CX efforts and ROI.

In this infographic, we examine 12 factoids on CX ratings, people, and leadership. Below the infographic you’ll find links to download the graphic (as well as a poster), along with links to the referenced content.12 Customer Experience Factoids Infographic From Temkin Group, Covers CX Ratings, People & Leadership

Here are links to download different versions of the infographic:

Here are links to the research referenced in the infographic:

BlackRock CEO Shares A Sense of Purpose. Hallelujah!

Every once in a while, there’s a signal that things are changing. I hope that this is one of those moments.

Larry Fink, Founder, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of BlackRock, recently sent out his annual letter to CEOs. This year, it was titled, A Sense of Purpose. I urge everyone to read it. Here’s an excerpt:

Society is demanding that companies, both public and private, serve a social purpose. To prosper over time, every company must not only deliver financial performance, but also show how it makes a positive contribution to society. Companies must benefit all of their stakeholders, including shareholders, employees, customers, and the communities in which they operate.

I totally agree!

Companies have a responsibility to all of their stakeholders, not just to a narrow set of needs (financial returns) for a subset of its stakeholders (shareholders). This perspective is part of what has fueled what I call Modernized Leadership, which is a rethinking of outdated management practices.

Fink’s letter is particularly powerful given that Blackrock is the world’s largest asset manager. When investors take a longer-term point of view, they recognize that the creation of true value is driven by a commitment to a strong sense of purpose. As Fink says…

Without a sense of purpose, no company, either public or private, can achieve its full potential. It will ultimately lose the license to operate from key stakeholders. It will succumb to short-term pressures to distribute earnings, and, in the process, sacrifice investments in employee development, innovation, and capital expenditures that are necessary for long-term growth.

Why is purpose so important? This video shows its power:

Purpose has been one of Temkin Group’s core themes for many years, so we have a lot of content on the topic. If you’re interested in becoming a more purposeful leader, I suggest you start here:

Having a sense of purpose isn’t just a notion reserved for CEOs and leaders, its applicable to everyone. We all share the responsibility for making the world around us a better place. With that in mind, I urge you to join Temkin Group in making 2018 The Year of Humanity.

2018 The Year of Humanity (Temkin Group)

The bottom line: We can make this a moment of change.

Report: Lessons in CX Excellence, 2018

Download Temkin Group research report, Lessons in Customer Experience Excellence, 2018We just published a Temkin Group report, Lessons in CX Excellence, 2018. The report provides insights from six winners in the Temkin Group’s 2017 CX Excellence Awards. The report, which has more than 70 pages of content, includes an appendix with the finalists’ nomination forms. This report has rich insights about both B2B and B2C customer experience.

Here’s the executive summary:

This past November, we named six organizations the winners of Temkin Group’s 2017 Customer Experience Excellence Award – AARP, Allianz Worldwide Partners, Century Support Services, Nurse Next Door Home Care Services, Reliant, and Sage. This report:

  • Highlights specific examples of how these companies’ customer experience (CX) efforts have created value for both their customers and for their businesses.
  • Describes winners’ best practices across the four customer experience competencies: purposeful leadership, compelling brand values, employee engagement, and customer connectedness.
  • Includes all of the winners’ detailed nomination forms to help you collect examples and ideas to apply to your own CX efforts.

Download report for $195
Purchase and download Temkin Group research report, Lessons in Customer Experience Excellence, 2018

Here are some highlights from the winners: Read More …

Young Employees Are Most Impacted By Purposeful Leaders

As many readers of this blog know, Purposeful Leadership is one of Temkin Group’s Four CX Core Competencies. How do leaders demonstrate this characteristic? By mastering what we call the 5 P’s of Purposeful LeadersPersuasivePassionatePropellingPositive, and Persistent.

In a recent post, we showed how Purposeful Leadershipaffects the behaviors of employees. We decided to take a look at how the impact differs across ages of employees. To do this, we segmented more than 5,000 U.S. employees into two groups, one that said that their boss demonstrated all five characteristics of Purposeful Leadership (about 55% of the total) and those who’s boss did not.

We then examined the percentage of each group who say that they “always” or “almost always” try their hardest at work. As you can see in the chart below:

  • Younger employee are most effected. Looking at the impact of Purposeful Leaders between both groups, we find the largest gap for the youngest employees (27 %-points).
  • Older employees try harder. For both groups of employees, the percentage of employees who try their hardest increases with age.

Temkin Group analysis shows that the positive impact of purposeful leaders is greatest with younger employees

The bottom line: Purposeful leadership is gaining importance.

Report: State of Voice of the Customer Programs, 2017

State of Voice of the Customer Programs, 2017We just published a Temkin Group report, State of Voice of the Customer Programs, 2017. Here’s the executive summary:

For the seventh straight year, Temkin Group has benchmarked the competency and maturity levels of voice of the customer (VoC) programs within large organizations. This year we surveyed close to 200 large companies and asked them to complete Temkin Group’s VoC Competency and Maturity Assessment, which evaluates their capabilities across what we call the “Six Ds:” Detect, Disseminate, Diagnose, Discuss, Design, and Deploy. This report also includes data from these companies’ responses to help you benchmark your own company’s VoC efforts. We compared this year’s results with those from previous years and found that:

  • While most companies think that their VoC efforts are successful, less than one-quarter of companies consider themselves good at making changes to the business based on the insights.
  • Companies find their VoC programs to be most valuable for “identifying and fixing quick-hit operational issues” and least valuable for “identifying innovative product and service ideas.”
  • Companies expect technology will continue to heavily impact their VoC programs in the future, especially for integrating survey data with CRM and operational data.
  • In the future, companies expect the most important source of insights to be customer interaction history and the least important source to be multiple-choice questions.
  • The most common activity for VoC teams is defining customer experience metrics for their companies, and this activity became even more popular over the past year.
  • Only 14% of companies have reached the two highest levels of VoC maturity (out of six levels), while 46% remain in the bottom two levels.
  • When we compared higher-scoring VoC programs with lower-scoring programs, we found that companies with mature programs are more successful, technology-focused, and mobile-oriented and have more full-time staff and more involved senior executives.
  • Companies with more mature VoC programs identified “integration across systems” as the most common obstacle they face, while less mature VoC programs struggle the most with “cooperation across the organization.”

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Here’s the VoC competency & maturity levels, which is one of 29 graphics in the report:

Voice of the customer competency and maturity levels

Download report for $195+Buy the state of the voice of the customer programs report

CX Design Wins A Nobel Prize

Richard Thaler nobel prizeIn case you missed it, Richard Thaler won the Nobel Prize in Economics. He’s a well-known behavioral economist and author of the popular book Nudge. Thaler often collaborated with another behavioral economist (and one of my favorite economists of all time), Daniel Kahneman, who won a Nobel Prize in 2002.

You may have seen Thaler in this scene from The Big Short where he and Selena Gomez explain a financial instrument called a synthetic collateralized debt obligation (CDO). [Note: there’s some foul language].

So what does this have to do with CX design?

Thaler applied behavioral economics to government interactions with citizens. Through this citizen experience design, he was able to raise the number of organ donors, increase the level of retirement savings, and improve response rates to automotive registration bills among other things.

Thaler’s work demonstrated that experience design can’t assume that humans behave in a rational manner, it must take into account that people make most of their decisions using intuitive thinking.

Intuitive thinking versus rational thinkingThat’s why behavioral economics is the foundation for what we call Design for Real People, a component of Customer Connectedness. If you’re doing any experience design, then you need to understand how people make decisions and how they respond emotionally to your actions.

The bottom line: Behavioral economics is a foundation for good CX design.

Free eBook: 25 Tips For Becoming A More Purposeful Leader

Free eBook: 25 Tips For Becoming A More Purposeful LeaderAs part of our CX Day celebration, which this year is focussed on Elevating Purpose, we’re giving away this free eBook: 25 Tips For Becoming A More Purposeful Leader.

Free ebook download

One of Temkn Group’s Four CX Core Competencies is Purposeful Leadership. To master this competency, a company must be able to affirmatively answer the question, “Do your leaders operate with a clear, well-articulated set of values?” Purposeful leaders create an engaged workforce and help their organizations deliver positive customer experiences.

This eBook contains these 25 easily adoptable tips from across the Five P’s of Purposeful Leadership. Here are the tips:

25 tips for becoming a more purposeful leader

Also check out our recent video on Purposeful Leadership and the Elevate Purpose page.

The bottom line: Purposeful leadership really matters!