Customer Experience is a critically important priority for the majority of executives worldwide. In fact, 77% of companies believe that CX is a key competitive differentiator.
However, research has shown a 76% gap between the customer experience companies believe they deliver versus what their customers actually encounter. While 87% of companies believe they are providing exceptional customer experiences, only 11% of customers agree.
To narrow this gap, companies need to obtain an accurate picture of customers’ experiences with accurate and informative data.
Customer Experience Research Methods
There are many methods to measure the customer experience. Because of the breadth and complexity of cx data, many companies take an integrated approach. They use a combination of different research methods to gain a comprehensive view of the customer experience.
Here are four key customer experience research methods all companies should employ when measuring customer experience:
1. Customer Attitude Indicators: CX KPIs
Customer attitude indicators are a popular starting point for companies measuring the customer experience. These cx metrics provide insight into the state of customer satisfaction and provide an early indication of growing customer dissatisfaction.
Customer Experience Metrics to Track
- Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) Score: This metric measures how satisfied customers are with a company. It consists of a single question: How would you rate the overall satisfaction of the oﬀering?
- Customer Effect Score (CES): This metric measures the level of effort that a customer feels they make to get a response or resolution to a question, issue, or request. It consists of a single question: On a scale of ‘very easy’ to ‘very difficult’, how easy was it to interact with our company?
- The Net Promoter Score (NPS)®: This metric measures customers’ willingness to recommend your brand and products to others. It consists of a single question: How likely are you to recommend our company to your friends or colleagues?
Surveys: What Customers Say They Did
Surveys are the most common method to measure customer experience. They are used to gather data from customers to evaluate how a customer engages and interacts with a brand including attitudes, brand expectations, and customer satisfaction. From a customer assessment perspective, surveys measure two types of information: customer behaviors and customer opinions.
Customer Behavior Surveys
Customer behavior surveys focus on self-reported actions that the customer believes they have done or will do in the future. This enables companies to make informed forward-looking decisions.
There are three main types of behavior surveys:
- Attitudes and Usage: This survey uncovers gaps and flaws in your products and services by comparing how customers actually use and perceive your offering. With this data, companies can uncover how they are failing to meet customers’ expectations and develop a roadmap on how to improve.
- Customer Segmentation: This survey groups customers based on meaningful behavioral, psychographic, and demographic characteristics. By understanding the overall demographics that determine their customer base, companies can better identify and effectively target key customer groups.
- Customer Journey: This survey evaluates how customers interact with a brand throughout their entire lifecycle. This research allows companies to build a customer journey map that tracks customer engagement from awareness to consideration, purchase, and retention.
Customer Opinion Surveys
Customer Opinion surveys focus on how the customer says they feel or perceive a brand or product. Understanding how customers feel is a crucial step towards understanding a company’s CX. There are three main types of opinion surveys:
- Awareness and Perceptions: This type of survey measures awareness and customer opinions of the brand. This approach helps companies understand their brand strengths and weaknesses in relation to their competitors. It also identifies positive and negative perceptions and characteristics most associated with the brand.
- Customer Satisfaction: This survey identifies the factors that affect your customers’ satisfaction and influence their intent to purchase again.
- Customer Needs Assessment: This survey identifies the key elements of your customers’ experience with your brand. This includes the extent to which your products or services address their needs as well as any unmet needs.
Understand and evaluate your customers’ satisfaction with our infographic – How to Measure Customer Satisfaction.
Customer Data Analyses: Historical Data
Analyzing customer data gives an overview of customer experience. It combines multiple data sets to validate assumptions, challenge preconceptions, and help build cases internally.
Luckily, many companies already have access to a major customer experience resource: customer usage data. Delivery times, product quality ratings, customer demographics, online behavior, and transaction information can all paint a valuable picture of customer behaviors.
By linking an analysis of existing customer data with customer feedback gathered through surveys, companies can map customer perceptions to data-driven insights. This provides a holistic vision of the experiences that customers are having with the company and how they can be improved.
Customer Experience Data to Analyze
- Customer Lifetime Value: Companies can determine the expected value of customers over the course of their lifetime. This includes initial purchases, accessories purchases, repairs, and replacements.
- Customer Churn Win/loss: Digs past the customer churn rate and identifies trends in dropped versus loyal customers and variables that influence customer decision-making.
- Online Purchasing Behavior: historical data can uncover purchasing behaviors and where customers drop off.
Qualitative Research: Why Customers Did Something
Qualitative research collects direct customer feedback and provides context to quantitative measurement approaches. Whereas data analysis and surveys can track what customers did, qualitative research is crucial for determining why customers did it. Companies use qualitative research at the beginning of a customer experience measurement initiative to get a sense of buyer pain points that can then be explored in more detail through a survey. Qualitative research is also an excellent follow up to customer experience surveys or data analysis, providing context to the quantitative data.
Qualitative Research to Conduct
- In-Depth Interviews (IDIs): This is an approach designed to understand customers’ train of thought regarding their experiences. IDIs involve interviews with members of key customer groups to understand motivations and attitudes toward a brand. Interviews allow companies to gather more in-depth answers on customer preferences by allowing researchers to ask follow-up questions to probe deeper and further clarify responses. It also allows respondents to answer in their own words rather than be bound by the available responses offered by a survey.
- Focus Groups: A focus group gathers feedback from a group of people about their perceptions, opinions, beliefs, and attitudes towards a product, service, concept, advertisement, or idea.
Conducted in a group setting, either online or in-person, focus groups function similarly to IDIs, but are further enhanced by the flow of conversation between several customers. This type of interaction creates situations where different customers can affirm or disagree with statements said by other participants, increasing the information obtained through this approach.
- Voice of Customer Study: A voice of the customer study involves a carefully designed qualitative interview guide that investigates the needs, concerns, and goals of the customers. Voice of the customer studies are ideal for identifying the problems or challenges that drive a customer to seek out a brand, and what they expect from the brand in terms of a solution.
A Holistic Approach to CX
Measuring customer experience is an ever-changing and evolving analysis as both product services and offerings as well as customer bases, can morph over time. Given the moving part of this equation, harnessing a combination of research approaches is important to spot potential changes on the horizon.
With a multiple methodological approach, companies can identify new, unmet customer needs or changing standards brought to the market by a tightening competitive landscape and adjust their strategies accordingly.
By bringing to bear the strengths of all four approaches, companies can best situate themselves for success in tracking, analyzing, and improving the customer experience they provide.