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Article 5 min read

Why experience data is key to better customer service

To compete in today’s experience economy, customer service teams need to evolve. Here's how you can transform customer service into a vital driver of loyalty and revenue.

By Stephen Fortuna, Content Strategist, Qualtrics

Last updated March 15, 2024

Today, quality customer service is more important than ever. One in three customers are abandoning brands after a single bad experience, causing U.S. companies more than $75 billion in losses every year. But if you treat them right, customers will do a lot more than stay. Customers who feel valued are actually willing to spend more for the privilege of doing business with you.

Welcome to the experience economy: a new world where the goods and services of competing brands are so similar that the battleground for customer loyalty has moved from providing better functionality to curating better experiences.

To compete for the customers of today, customer service teams need to evolve into customer experience teams. And they need a new kind of data to track their progress.

What is experience data?

Experience data (X-data) is the beliefs, emotions, and thoughts of customers. It can be captured through surveys, website forms, frontline employees, and many other customer feedback channels. While most of the data that businesses take into account is focused on “what is happening” – we call this operational data (O-data) – X-data can uncover the “why” behind it. For example:

  • O-data may tell you that your customers are returning a newly-released winter coat at record levels. X-data can explain that customers didn’t think it was warm enough.

  • O-data may tell you that cart abandonment is up on your ecommerce website. X-data can explain that customers became frustrated with a certain step in the checkout process.

  • O-data may tell you that a certain new hire hasn’t been able to close as many tickets as others. X-data can explain that customers thought he was talking too much on their support calls.

How to improve customer service using experience data

X-data is only a competitive advantage if you know how to use it. Here are three ways that you can leverage the currency of the experience economy:

1. Track the right metrics and benchmark against competitors

Meaningful improvement always starts with measurement. Customer service teams have traditionally relied on metrics like average hold time and issues resolution rates. But those metrics only tell you what your customer service team is doing. Experience data will give you new, customer-focused metrics to set goals around, like:

  • Net Promoter Score (NPS). Net promoter score measures customer loyalty based on one simple survey question: “How likely is it that you would recommend [Organization X/Product Y/Service Z] to a friend or colleague?”
  • Customer satisfaction (CSAT). CSAT measures customer satisfaction based on the question: “How would you rate your overall satisfaction with the [goods/service] you received?” Respondents use a rating scale between 1 (very unsatisfied) to 5 (very satisfied).
  • Customer effort score (CES). Customer effort score asks a question like: “How easy was it to deal with our company today?” giving simple options: Easy, Neither, Difficult.

These three simple metrics can give you insight into the overall customer experience that you provide, and will allow you to benchmark against other experience-minded businesses in your industry.

2. Solve problems before they affect the bottom line

If your organization is closely following the mood of its customers, it will be able to get ahead of issues before they spiral out of control. X-data allows you to notice a problem when it is surfaced by a single customer, meaning you don’t have to wait for it to begin affecting your entire business before making a change. For example:

  • One customer may have had a terrible support experience with a new hire. If you have feedback surveys automatically going out to customers after each support interaction, you can know to better train (or potentially fire) that employee before they upset others.

  • One customer may stumble across an embarrassing typo on your website. If you have a feedback tab available, they can easily let you know before several high-profile prospects see it.

  • One customer may post about how a product they purchased from you arrived already broken. If you’re monitoring social media mentions, you can resolve the problem with them before it goes viral.

Gathering X-data from across channels like those described above into easy-to-understand dashboards and actionable workflows will allow you to surface and solve issues in real-time. Customer service teams will be able to reduce the amount of incoming complaints, and have more time to think about proactive initiatives.

3. Refine internal processes and trainings

With more input from customers, you can better understand the support pathways they’d prefer to travel. For example, you may learn in a survey that many of your customers prefer to call in to a physical support center and talk to a real human. In a different organization, however, you may learn that customer satisfaction increases when self-help options are provided on the company website. This information will guide you as you consider adopting new systems.

You can also use the data to identify ways to better train the team – as a whole, and as individuals. When customers are asked to stay on the line and provide feedback after a support call, or are sent a follow-up email asking for their input you have given them a key opportunity to improve your business. Look for the trends in customer feedback that may indicate deficiencies in the way your team handles specific scenarios, and train team members to overcome them.

Be sure to ask your team about their experiences as employees too. Employee turnover can be high on customer support teams. Listening to and acting on employee concerns can increase retention and gives your customers the benefits of interacting with more experienced, more engaged staff.

Listen and take action today

All of this starts with listening to your customers more – but it doesn’t end until you take action. That’s why Zendesk and Qualtrics have teamed up.

By bringing the X-data that the Qualtrics Experience Management Platform gathers into Zendesk customer service workflows, organizations can close the loop faster with customers, and gain deeper insight into the customer service experience. You can start automatically sending data from Qualtrics surveys to Zendesk Support today by enabling our joint integration.

Learn more about integrating Qualtrics and Zendesk

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