The Importance of Customer Sentiment Measurement in Multi-channel, Multi-format, Multi-experience environments

Amrita Chowdhury, Director, Gaia Smart Cities

Businesses have been striving to become customer centric for a while. But it’s been never more relevant than in the current business environment of increased competition, with a glut of products and services in every segment. Brands are competing to gain consumers and struggling to retain them.

Jeff Bezos identifies three core pillars of customer centricity that has made Amazon the preferred destination for buyers around the world. These include customer focus to enable the consumer to find the best deal and best experience; customer empowerment through feedback as a tool to understand and serve consumers better; and consumer loyalty, using analytics driven satisfaction assessment to identify pain points and make the necessary improvements.

At the core of this behavior, lies the willingness of an enterprise to seek feedback and to measure, analyze and improve its own performance.

Performance tracking and improvement through feedback is increasingly being leveraged beyond the realm of traditional retailers or e-tailers. Services firms, such as restaurants, hospitals, financial institutions, transport hubs, facilities managers and others, have started using feedback as a mechanism to monitor performance. Interestingly, governments are also realizing that the true impact of public service delivery lies in citizen satisfaction, and are using citizen feedback to rate the quality of services being provided by departments or their third-party providers.

Technology is a huge enabler in gathering feedback, and enterprises and cities need to consider several things in leveraging feedback measurement.

Measure the Metric That Matters: While there are complex sets of performance metrics specific to each firm and each industry, eventually they are always rolled up into one final assessment – whether the collective performance drivers translate into a positive user experience, or not. Today’s time crunched consumers are not keen to fill out long survey questionnaires. Hence, quick polls on one or two metrics ensure engagement and feedback.

Moreover, technology allows marketers to dynamically serve mini surveys, changing questions by time and by location, allowing deeper insights into consumer need gaps or preferences.

Continuous Assessment: Feedback metrics are not static. Firstly, users may evolve and thus expect better and better service. Secondly, experience is delivered through moments of interaction and thus, the quality of every moment matters. Hence it is critical to meas­ure feedback not as a one-time or occasional exercise, rather on an ongoing basis.

Real-time Actionable Insights: Using sensor and cloud based technologies; business can gather insights and feedback in the moment. Capturing consumer feedback or complaints in batches and responding to them a week later or longer is no longer acceptable, as dissatisfaction and negative sentiments spread quickly through social media. In many situations, especially where footfall is high and experience depends on real-time service parameters, it is essential to capture real time information, quickly process and analyze it, create alerts and escalations, and thus manage service delivery continuously.

Location Based Feedback: The point of experience is the real moment of truth, and it is crucial to capture feedback at the point of service delivery. Capturing post-facto feedback, through an email or website based feedback form not only creates a lag between experience and feedback but also leads to lower feedback rates. Moreover, positive feedback may not get adequately captured as the most disgruntled customers have higher probability of giving post-facto online feedback. Beacon based, app-based, or internet of things device based technologies can be used to capture consumer sentiments at the point of purchase.

Multi-channel Data Capture: Businesses today operate in the physical and digital worlds, and consumers experience service delivery and engage with a brand, business or government across multiple channels. Hence, data must be captured across channels – at any point during the consumer journey through the email, web or social media apps and at the point of sale through feedback devices.

Multi-Variate Data Capture: As businesses engage with consumers at different points during their journey of awareness, purchase and usage, different types of structured and unstructured feedback data gets captured. Collating and analyzing this multi-variate data into intuitive and aggregated dashboards offers deeper insights into problems and pain points of consumers, their need gaps and the factors that drive preference and loyalty.

Insights & Analytics: Using cloud based technologies, businesses can gather feedback across products, verticals, geographies, and time horizons, and store and analyze data at a central location. Businesses can understand firm-wide and local trends, and aggregate and segment-wise consumer preferences. GIS dashboards and reports allow management to monitor real time business performance remotely and manage staff performance.

Enhance Engagement: The process of collecting feedback allows businesses a platform to engage, offer promotions, identify pain points, enhance communication, and thus improve loyalty.

Sensor based technologies, mobile communication, cloud storage, and analytics are allowing businesses to better understand their consumers and operations in the real time, and improve efficiency, differentiation, loyalty, and revenue potential.