From proving the connection between the customer experience and commercial success, to understanding which metrics matter, marketers are under pressure to deliver for consumers and the business alike.
However, chasing a tidy dataset in a bid to achieve a single customer view could lead marketers towards a sense of “false accuracy”, according to Eve Sleep CEO Cheryl Calverley.
A former CMO and marketing leader with two decades’ experience, Calverley believes brands often waste time trying to achieve the tidiest dataset possible, only to find they could have drawn the same conclusions months earlier by recognising the signs in front of them.
“There can be an exercise in tidiness that everyone spends all their life chasing the tidiest possible data view, you get to a really tidy data view and you go ‘Brilliant, so it tells us exactly what it told us four months ago when it was messy, that clearly the issue is the deliveries are running low and the packaging isn’t working correctly’,” she said, speaking yesterday (7 June) at the Festival of Marketing: Fast Forward.
“You could have said that four months ago because you could see the noise. There’s an element of almost data providing a sense of false accuracy. There’s no point being 100% accurate, 85% accurate is enough.”
Calverley urges marketers to know when to “stop the chase” for data perfection and instead get people across the organisation to agree on which elements of the customer experience need attention. The next step is to devise a united response to improve the issues.
“You need to get in a room and go: ‘We can hear there’s a problem with the packaging, there’s a problem with the delivery lead times and there’s a gripe with the instructions on the product pages. Are we all agreed those are the three things we’re going to focus on and the other 42 things are lower order?’” she said.
“Synthesising it through human conversation and collaboration is quicker and more efficient than trying to synthesise it into one single piece of data.”
Customer satisfaction is very high up the priority list of the CEO and senior stakeholders, because it touches them very really.
Cheryl Calverley, Eve Sleep
Very Group CMO Carly O’Brien believes simplifying customer experience data in a way that is “consumable” for colleagues across the organisation is critical and having a “really clean dataset” helps. However, O’Brien is cautious about brands searching for a single customer voice as there are many different ways they express themselves.
“Whether it’s Trustpilot, comments on social, what you hear through your contact centre, the reviews customers are leaving, there are pieces of it all over the organisation. What we’re really trying to do from a cultural perspective is deliver a great customer experience and we need to consume all of those inputs across different parts of the business to be able to really understand what we’re hearing from our customer and drive it forward,” she explained.
“Trying to consolidate it into just one answer to the question is difficult, because there are different questions that different parts of the business are asking at different moments and you need to draw on all of those inputs. We really see it as access to the right information and making that consumable in a way that’s relevant to the colleague who needs to make the change.
Aside from bringing some common sense to the search for the perfect dataset and making it relevant to the wider business, Calverley believes it is important for marketers to focus on which aspects of the customer experience really matter to the business and customer in the context of the category.
“We look at ecommerce experience metrics. We look at some really hard metrics like availability to purchase, delivery lead times and accuracy of delivery, all that practical stuff like – did you get the product you wanted on time and in a really nice way?” she said.
“Then we look at stuff which is a bit more to do with the perception of the experience. We look at NPS, Trustpilot, read recommendation reviews and how people are scoring us overall as a business and that’s got quite a strong commercial impact.”
It is also important to define the “promise” customers are buying from your brand. At Eve the focus is on better mornings, so the team ask mattress customers at the 99-day point if they are sleeping better, just before the 100-day trial period is up. On other products these questions are asked two weeks after purchase.
The business uses this measure of better sleep as a metric on a day-to-day basis and Calverley believes it has a strong commercial impact because the outcome is “one of the strongest marketing messages” the company uses.
A ‘blunt’ tool?
While the business does look at NPS as a measure of customer satisfaction, the Eve Sleep CEO considers net promoter score as a bit of a blunt metric. She points out that you get an NPS figure that either moves or doesn’t move, and what’s important is delving underneath to look at the metrics below.
Calverley described NPS as being “incredibly valuable” in allowing companies to identify which metrics to look at move recommendation sentiment, as long as they see it as “just a headline output figure”. However, she admitted it is not always that simple.
“That all sounds very perfect, but both in the AA and in Eve I’ve never got to that and actually we spend most of our time talking about the metrics that move and that we can affect, rather than necessarily the NPS,” she added.
The marketers at Very are interested in a wide range of consumer metrics, including retention rates and customer lifetime value, as well as the different digital touchpoints that sit along the customer journey.
At a group level relationship NPS is a core focus that unites everyone in the business. Very asks customers questions about their levels of satisfaction at various points along the journey, from browsing and ordering, to returns and even when they are purchasing using the company’s financial services products.
Relationship NPS really gives us this richness of insight so we can really get under the skin of all of those really critical drivers.
Carly O’Brien, Very
“As a relatively complex business there will be lots and lots that play into a customer feeling satisfied with their experience,” O’Brien explained.
“It will be the digital experience they go through, the right product, the right price, the delivery, the customer service experience they have, so relationship NPS gives us this richness of insight so we can really get under the skin of all of those really critical drivers.”
The relationship NPS surveys have, for example, shown Very that next day delivery is a critical part of the proposition and an important driver of the overall experience.
While there is never going to be “clean and linear” way to show there will be an immediate uptick in commercial performance if customers are more satisfied, O’Brien does believe meaningful connections can be drawn.
In NPS terms, for example, Very finds promoters stay longer on the site, spend more and are more likely to be advocates. Whereas, with detractors the business sees lots of churn, people stopping spending and ultimately leave the site, meaning on an aggregate level there’s a clear connection.
Likewise, products with a high volume of positive reviews see a much better level of conversion. Pain points in the customer experience can also have a direct impact on commercial performance.
“There was one [example] we had very recently where we identified a nuance in our returns process that was creating a pain point for a particular customer group. We were able to evidence that the reorder rate post that experience was significantly lower than the reorder rate versus a normal returns experience,” said O’Brien.
“That allowed us to get very quick buy in to fix that process, because you could immediately see the virtuous circle with the customers reordering and see that coming back through the sales line.”
At a leadership level, Calverley explained customer satisfaction is a topic felt very keenly by the CEO, because when the experience goes wrong that’s who people email.
“I know when Eve is having a bit of a difficult time because suddenly I’ll get loads of incredibly angry emails from customers and certainly my CEO at the AA used to regularly send them on. Jeff Bezos used to talk about reading every email that comes in and sending it on. So, customer satisfaction is very high up the priority list of the CEO and senior stakeholders,” she pointed out.
The challenge comes with bridging the gap from the negative sentiment to metrics, and being able to show to the CEO that while they may have got four furious emails this week, the overall customer sentiment metric has moved.
While she admitted it is not always easy, Calverley underlined the importance of bridging that gap between qualitative feedback and quantitative measures, tracking these metrics in a consistent way and connecting them to revenue.