You Need Human Data to Truly Measure Customer Engagement

Article by Ernan Roman
Featured on Association of National Advertisers

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If your key metrics focus on measuring how many and how much, it's time to expand your metrics to include human data which will tell you why customers are not feeling valued, and how they want you to improve their customer experience with your brand.

When B2B or B2C customers opt out or voice complaints, you need to add the richness and depth of human insights and feelings regarding what went wrong, why, and of critical importance, how they want it fixed, not just "how many" are unhappy or leaving.

The How and the Why of B2B Engagement

Based on hundreds of hours of in-depth interviews conducted by our firm with customers of major B2B brands, we have learned that execs understand the reciprocity involved in providing their personal preference information to help marketers deliver improved personalization. This applies to preferences and experiences with the brand. But there's a catch — marketers must use that information to gain a deeper level of understanding of customer's needs!

Here's a representative quote from our VoC research which illustrates how understanding the human needs of customers will strengthen engagement:

"Understanding our business and my needs is critical — that is what creates a relationship. And, the best way to understand this is for us to tell you! We'll answer your questions, fill out a questionnaire, in order to get improved recommendations to help our business!"

Here are some guidelines which emerged from the research:

  • "Be sure that we can easily update our preference information as our needs change and evolve."

  • "Provide the ability to select the communication methods suited to our specific needs, i.e., email for new product/market data, and order confirmations, text for delivery notices, etc."

  • "Link profiles of individuals from our company so we can get a well-rounded view of what is going on in the entire company."

  • "Allow for easy back and forth communication with your company."

The How and the Why of B2C Engagement

According to The State of Email Engagement, research study, there are two key factors to keep in mind: "The way recipients engage with received email serves as an input to Google's algorithms that route incoming messages… keeping subscribers actively engaged with your email program is a major factor in email deliverability and overall effectiveness."

In this same study it was noted that most consumers do not trust that their opt-out requests will be processed. So, instead of opting out they simply put in place blocking mechanisms now available from all email service providers, cell providers, etc. This removes that important statistic from traditional reporting.

Relying on traditional deliverability stats to gauge the success of communication or engagement, is simply is no longer an accurate measurement of customer engagement.

Therefore, in order to drive engagement, marketers need to personalize communication based on:

  • How, and how often, consumers want to be communicated with.

  • What they want to be communicated about.

  • Ensuring that the "why" of the communication is in line with their individual needs.

Every customer base will be different, so do something simple — ask! On a regular basis, have in-store personnel do surveys, do online pop up surveys, or invite select consumers to become part of a consumer insight group.

Putting It All Together with Human Data

Just like their B2B counterparts, B2C consumers are more than willing to engage if they perceive value in the exchange. As a matter of fact in a recent survey by Blis, it was noted that 7 in 10 internet users would share their competitive buying habits in exchange for a discount.

Please keep in mind these 5 requirements which emerged from the VoC research:

  • Have metrics which measure customer engagement and retention.

  • Trust is essential to gaining and maintaining brand loyalty.

  • Learn which of your actions and policies hurt CX and, which help CX.

  • Do your customers believe that you are listening and then acting on, their needs and preferences?

Respect the value exchange expectations regarding customers' willingness to opt-in and self-profile their interests/life stage/message and media preferences in exchange for increasingly personalized and relevant communications, recommendations and offers.

The right metrics that matter:

  • Lapses: if you notice that a customer has lapsed, this is not only a red flag for them, it is a red flag to consider for their entire consumer segment. It is imperative to understand what caused the disconnect and whether it is a singular problem or a wider issue in which you are missing the mark with an entire group. Reach out, ask, find out, and make things right.

  • Consistent Complaints: your front line is a gold mine for valuable information. Be in touch with your customer service, sales, and other departments that are in touch with customers. If you are getting word that a consistent problem persists with continuing complaints, this needs to be taken seriously and corrected.

  • Consistent measurement protocols: if one department is measuring satisfaction with a specific survey protocol and other departments are using their own/different surveys/protocols — you will never get a straight answer. It is essential to have an overarching, consistent set of customer engagement and retention focused metrics that are used by all departments. Additional, department specific metrics are of course, also necessary.

By developing value propositions based on human data which inform you as to customers' key "wants and needs" you will build longer term relationships and repeat purchases.

Ernan Roman is the president at ERDM Corp. and author of Voice-of-the-Customer Marketing: A Revolutionary 5-Step Process to Create Customers Who Care, Spend, and Stay.

Customer Experience Update
Ernan Roman