For more details on the overarching theory at play in this piece, please see part 1 which I posted earlier in the week. This blog will be focused on the practical application of the theory as described in part 1 and will provide a framework for measuring customer perception. Meanwhile, part 3 will be focused upon key areas for adding good will to the well.
Measuring Industry Perception
The first step is to identify how your industry as a whole is perceived by consumers? Is your company in an industry such as Oil & Gas, or Insurance which tends to skew towards a more negative consumer perception overall? If you are looking for a rough benchmark you can look at average net promoter scores by industry to identify where your industry falls in the list. Please do keep in mind this isn’t necessarily the best way to track overall perception towards your industry but is likely the most cost effective as NPS data is easy to come by and understand. Second word of warning on this is that oftentimes NPS scores can be skewed by the way in which a company surfaces the NPS question. Many companies fall into the pitfall of only sending an NPS survey via email to customers who have monetized. Not only does this tend to skew the score towards the positive but also towards an older demographic as while doing research into decling membership rates at a company focused upon 18-24 year old customers we found that an increasing majority of those under 30 do not have or use personal email addresses. A much better way to benchmark is to first search for studies done within your industry as to customer perception, and if there are none, to speak with a consumer research group or have a consultancy run one. While this option may be costly, it can provide you with invaluable insight.
Measuring Customer Sentiment
Now that you have an industry baseline your next step is to identify where do you stand within that industry. For this NPS will only take you so far and as such I’d suggest asking your customers directly. Before you do however, it is worth checking if there are consumer advocacy groups or government run oversight organizations for your industry who post their research and reports. For example, Ofcom in the UK regularly posts a great deal of insights into the telecoms, TV, radio industries along with consumer trends when it comes to social media and internet coverage/usage. 2
Often times reports of this nature can be a gold mine for a start-up to gain free insights into their market. If you have done your due diligence and have not found information on how you stack up within your industry it is best to ask the market. An important note here is to ask not just those who are currently customers, but those who have left, and those who have never been customers. Design Thinking would suggest hitting the streets (or paying a research group to do so on your behalf) and talking to people, and I have found at times that this is a good way to gain some very valuable insights. Often times the more freeform and open the conversation the wider insights can be obtained, however the more difficult they are to quantify. Meanwhile with more regimented feedback such as surveys you lose much of the potential for that “ah ha” moment. I’d suggest making the choice depending upon your needs as a business at that time and what you are looking to achieve while keeping in mind the need to track change over time.
Now that you have baselines for both your business and your industry it is time to look at your brand messaging and the touch points between yourself as a company and your customers. Adding to the Well of Good Will for you company tends to happen when a customer has a positive experience of some kind with your company. Some products are more experience oriented and as such companies providing those products will have an easier time adding to the well. For example, CPG or the hospitality industry due to the nature of their products have a large number of experiential touch points.
Mapping Customer Touchpoints
A valuable exercise at this stage is to map out all of the customer touchpoints between yourself as a company, big and small, that you and your team can think of, then work with some of your customers to identify ones which you might not be aware. For example, think back to a recent hotel stay that you had. Your experience with the hotel did not begin with stepping through the front door. Depending upon the type of consumer you are and the research that you did, there could be a multitude of additional touch points. Was the hotel recommended by a friend/colleague/client? Was it on a list of approved hotels for a convention? Did you read reviews on a site such as hotels.com or tripadvisor.com? Did you pick that hotel due to past experiences, word of mouth, brand recognition, location or some other factor?
List all of these touchpoints or potential pathways a customer will become aware of your brand and in turn come into your website/shop/business. After listing out the potential ways in which a customer can become aware of your brand/company/product, take time as a team to use each of these pathways and map each of these journeys. How was the customer journey? How is your brand and company represented in each way and is it in line with your values and message? Differentiate those that are working well from those that are not. Also, remember to test these pathways via multiple mobile phones. There is a strong trend towards mobile and I have worked at companies where over 50% of our web traffice came in via mobile browsing.
Now, look at the pathways of retention. How are you staying in contact with your customers and nurturing the relationship? Identify these potential pathways into the business and map them out while differentiating them from new customers (there will likely be some crossover). Start pulling all of these pathways together with your point of sale in the middle. If done properly it will look like a rather complex web. From this web you will easily and clearly be able to identify trouble spots and potential easy ways in which to add some base level good will by improving the customer journey.
Final Thoughts for Today
We've discussed how to get a clear understanding of customer perception towards your industry and in turn how to measure your businesses place within that industry. We've sat down and mapped out customer touchpoints and their journey through your website/store/business. Armed with this information in my next blog we will be looking at the importance of consistency when it comes to good will, how to galvanize your advocates, and the power of scarcity. We will also be looking at some potential pit-fall areas to avoid so that you can maintain positive momentum in your brand's Well of Good Will.
Thanks as always for reading.
1 - http://cdn2.hubspot.net/hub/268441/file-219639422-pdf/Satmetrix_US_2013_Consumer_Charts.pdf