The most successful companies listen to and provide what their customers need and want. That obviously starts with the fundamenal features and capabilities of the product and/or service, but in this digital age, also includes a focus on the customer relationship, beginning with the research, evaluation, and purchase process and continuing through post-sale support.
Positive customer experience (CX) metrics are largely driven by how well companies meet expectations for immediate answers through the customer’s preferred contact channel. It is also heavily reliant on positive employee experience (EX), enabled by employees who are well-equipped, trained, and empowered to meet customer needs. Together, CX and EX contribute to human experience (HX), which focuses on the complete experience a person has with a brand or service, both digitally and physically. Check out our previous post about why HX matters.
Perhaps the most under-valued and under-utilized asset companies possess
to fuel positive HX is the unstructured data to which they already have access. Unstructured data
is information that is not part of a defined data model in a database, including free-form text,
graphics, and a variety of other information separate from the defined (i.e., structured) data set.
Examples include customer service tickets, survey comments, web journey data, product data, and
communications like email, text, and chatbot conversations.
One illustrative use case for using unstructured data is with customer satisfaction (CSAT) surveys. Customers are asked for feedback on a variety of topics like a transaction, product quality, or service event, and the survey typically provides a rating scale like one to ten (the structured data) , along with comment fields for some or all of the survey questions (the unstructured data). When the completed surveys are collected and reviewed, a common assumption is that a score of eight to ten means the customer is happy, and priority can be given to the issues in the lower scores. Unfortunately, this results in missed opportunities to identify true customer sentiment from the unstructured data.
Similarly, as a customer —or prospective customer— journeys through a company website or app, the data can provide important insights to help companies understand what customers want and need. Companies can learn valuable lessons by understanding where their resources may be failing to provide a complete costumer experience, such as when a customer’s search terms or navigation path fail to answer their questions and they must call for help, or when a prospective customer abandons a purchase after failing to find information they need.
The huge volume of both structured and unstructured data collected, and the difficulty of reviewing it to find actionable insights can be overwhelming. Traditional business models—with teams of people manually reading and categorizing feedback—are expensive and break down at scale, missing important insights and introducing subjective inconsistencies. Data is regularly archived in hopes that someday it may be useful, and worse, is often discarded in favor of “more important data.”
Today’s technology and advances in artificial intelligence (AI) make the data analysis task much more effective and economical. By deploying an automated feedback analysis solution using machine learning algorithms, true customer sentiment about the products and services can be revealed, categorized, and translated into actionable recommendations. Once implemented, the subsequent results can be analyzed to further refine resources and processes, and to drive continued improvement of the human experience for both customers and employees.
Customers will happily tell you how to please them if you are equipped to listen and respond. The acceleration of digital transformation continues to evolve the tools and channels for these customer conversations, providing great opportunity to mine business value and actionable insights from unstructured data. Companies who embrace this opportunity to please their customers will be best able to increase customer retention and attract new customers, all while improving margin and continually improve the human