If you’re reading this, we can assume you know the importance of customer experience in driving brand growth and revenue. But today, it's easy to suffer from opportunity overload when deciding how to improve your customer experience programs. When presented with a variety of products, services, and partners the only real limitations are time and budget.
Customer experience management can trace its roots back to market research conducted in the 1920s. A lot has changed over the past hundred years. By the mid-1900s, brands were hiring undercover agents who have evolved into today's mystery shoppers. And the tech boom of the late 1990s into the early 2000s introduced new tools for brands to leverage.
In its simplest form, customer experience management requires a way to collect feedback from consumers, implement operational changes based on this feedback, and measure the execution and impact of these changes. And with today's technology, the tools to do this have never been more accessible.
Here we’ll discuss how any brand can start building a foundational customer experience program that fits a lean budget with just two types of software; consumer surveys and operational inspections.
Customer experience management starts with listening to your customers. This is why consumer surveys are the backbone of every CX program. Surveys provide insights into customer expectations and pain points across your customer journey. And they also set the tone for your customer relationships.
Modern survey tools enable you to easily build surveys, collect responses, and analyze the data. Many also help you manage your contacts. By tracking contacts within your survey tool you can avoid sending too many surveys in a short time. It will also enable you to target subsets of your contacts for more targeted surveys.
Operational Inspections and Checklists
The data from CX measurement, like surveys, only matters if you can action your insights. This is where operational inspections and checklists come into play - especially for multi-location businesses.
This type of software provides an array of ways brands can better manage their operations. A centralized tool makes it fast and simple to update standard operating procedures. From daily opening tasks or weekly cleaning checklists - you can easily ensure every location follows the most up-to-date procedures. Plus, this software introduces additional time-saving features. Collect and review photos from the field to avoid the need for extra visits. Automatically create follow-up tasks when an inspection uncovers an issue. Even schedule reminders so nothing slips during your busiest times.
As your consumer survey program uncovers new insights, inspection software will enable you to react and implement improvements in real time.
But What About Mystery Shopping?
Professional mystery shopping is an excellent way to collect objective data on your customer journeys. However, a lot of manual work goes into mystery shopping programs, from recruiting and managing shoppers to fielding assignments and reviewing the submitted data. This can make a full-fledged mystery shopping program outside the budget brands with fewer locations.
Brands that don’t have the budget for professionally managed services can approximate the benefits in other ways. For example, recruiting friends and family to visit your locations and provide feedback on the service.
Your consumer surveys will help provide direction to these types of visits. Remember, it’s important for the people who go undercover as a guest to act like typical customers. This means entering the store, making the necessary observations, and existing before recording their notes.
The more observations they are required to make, the less detail they will be able to remember. You can advise your friends or family on what to look for by identifying customer pain points ahead of time. The sweet spot for a professional mystery shopper is often 10-15 observations per visit. This allows them to collect the most data with the best accuracy. For less experienced individuals you may want to consider reducing this number.
However, there are downsides to leveraging family or employees for these visits. The main one is that the data won’t be as objective as that collected by a 3rd party. A way to help curb this is with the data collected by operational inspections and mobile checklists. By comparing the metrics and media collected by staff at your locations to the feedback from in-house shoppers, operators can form a more complete picture.
As your brand continues to grow, managing these visits in-house will become increasingly difficult. But as your brand grows, so should your CX budget. And this is when you can look at introducing a professionally managed mystery shopping program.