The only way to provide a good experience is to listen to what your customer is saying. If done right, listening paths can help you gain insight into the mind of your customer. They can also help you identify what you’re doing well, and what you need to do to stay ahead of the competition.

Messaging Pipelines

 

When I was younger, I would often play “The Telephone Game” with my friends. You whisper a phrase to one person, who whispers it to another, and so on until the last person in the line repeats the message out loud for all to hear. Inevitably, the phrase would be unrecognizable from its original form. Of course, it’s all fun and games when this is played at a get-together, but what about when you are trying to assess customer experience within your company?

 

If you’re a Customer Success (CS) Leader, “The Telephone Game” is the last way you want to filter customer feedback. Assessing your company’s listening paths is vital to ensure that you have your finger on the pulse of customer trends and sentiments.

 

Looking to evaluate the Listening Paths in your company? Download the Listening Path Assessment Tool to see if your company is ahead of the curve, or if you need to work on connecting with your customers and workforce.

 

Siloed Strategies

 

Measuring customer experience is a multi-stage process but assessing your listening paths is a crucial step. In most organizations, a common assessment of problems related to customer experience goes as follows:

 

  • There is concern around how the customer experiences the service or product.
  • Survey results are pulled out from a semi-annual report that identifies customer dissatisfaction concerning several departments.
  • Each department lead writes down what their department needs to address, leaves the meeting, and assigns a team to solve the problem.
  • The team tweaks current programs or procedures, and the task is checked off as complete.

     

This approach ensures that the customer’s experience will change from friction-filled touchpoints to seamless touchpoints, right? Wrong. Each department is incentivized to band-aid over a single issue related to their area of responsibility. Still, the overall experience fails to improve for the customer.

 

Reverse this by constructing listening paths to ensure that customer feedback is being applied to the whole customer journey. This should be overseen by a CS Leader who is empowered to hold others accountable for their progress.

 

External & Internal Listening Paths

 

Proactively collecting customer feedback can be a logistical challenge for any CS Leader. Rarely is a lack of information an issue; the problem facing many CS Leaders is how to consolidate the information they have into practical actions to improve customer experience. There are two kinds of listening paths that should be assessed: external listening paths and internal listening paths.

 

There is a high likelihood that your company already has external listening paths set up. It can come in many different forms:

 

  • Customer interviews
  • Churn Interviews
  • Customer Survey
  • Call Center – Customer Service
  • Social Media Comments
  • Website Surveys/Comment Sections
  • Email Inquiries
  • Win/Loss Analysis
  • Mail Surveys

     

As long as you have a structure to collect customer feedback, then you have an external listening path already in place. If you don’t, you can start taking actions to put them in place. Having a way for customers to provide feedback is critical to gaining insight into their expectations of your firm.

 

Internal listening paths are assessments that you provide to your employees to ensure that messaging and vision is aligned to the corporate strategy. There is a close association between customer experience and employee engagement. Consequently, assessing feedback from your employees is nearly as important as determining input from your customers.

 

Examples of internal listening paths are:

 

  • Pulse Surveys
  • One-on-Ones
  • Stay/Exit Interviews
  • Employee Net Promoter Score (ENPS)

     

Once the information has been collected, an action plan can be built for customers and employees alike.

 

Listening is About Storytelling

 

Understanding the importance of external and internal listening paths is the first step to creating an effortless customer experience that will increase loyalty and revenue. What do you do when the assessment is over? How do you fill the gaps that you identify and build upon the strengths that are already present in the firm?

 

Listening paths ultimately help you tell the story around the experience that a customer has on their customer journey. This storytelling is vital to engage the leadership of the organization, and to apply the solutions identified in the listening path to the company as a whole.

 

Ideally, listening paths take abstract business concepts and make them human. Challenges faced by customers are changed from numbers in a spreadsheet, or text in a transcript into stories that describe how they interact with the firm. By building and funneling listening paths to the CS Lead, patterns can be identified that will help all departments assess customer experience as needed. It will eliminate the siloed approach to checking off problems related to customer experience and will instead keep the customer journey top of mind.

 

These insights should come from a variety of sources (as listed above) and be a mix of qualitative and quantitative data. Once you find various sources of data identifying the same problems you will know where to focus your energy and resources.

 

Want to take a deeper dive into listening paths? Start by downloading the Listening Path Assessment Tool to get a high-level understanding of where you need help. Then schedule a conversation with one of our Customer Success Subject Matter Experts to explore how you can take your firm to the next level with customer experience.

 

 

New call-to-action

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kirk Snider

Provides data-driven insights to address sales and marketing challenges.
Kirk is an experience consultant with expertise in market research and strategy development. His ability to make difficult concepts understandable to all levels of management makes him an asset on any project. He works directly with executive level clients to deliver data driven solutions to challenging business problems.

 

Most recently, Kirk helped a national company assess their sales force to identify best practices of top performers and adjust compensation structures to better reflect industry trends. This analysis drove major internal re-positioning to help reduce churn among current sales personnel and focus recruiting efforts to attract the most capable candidates. His client portfolio spans Financial Services, Private Equity, Higher Education, and Government sectors.
Read full bio >