Which “Silent Experiences” Are Killing Your Customer Loyalty?

Which Experiences Are Your “Silent Killers”?

In my last post, ‘The Complexity of Customer Simplicity‘, I pointed out that one of the chief obstacles for companies that seek to “simplify” the customer experience is the difficulty in knowing what customers want.

Customer simplification efforts need to address the issues that aggrieve customers the most. These are the problem experiences that drive customers away – the issues that make them defect, spend less or adopt fewer products or services.

Most companies are confident that they have a sound grasp on these issues. They have millions of dollars invested in call centers that listen to customers complain every day. They monitor social media for negative brand sentiment. They have thousands of front line sales representatives interacting with customers. How could they not know what matters most to their customers?

Here’s how: The issues customers complain about most are often not the issues that have the largest impact on their loyalty and economic value.

Lethal issues are often silent

Verde analysis of customer problem experience consistently reveals a critical difference between the problems that occur most frequently and those that inflict the biggest damage on spend and retention. Call centers and social media monitoring pick up the frequent issues, but miss the “silent killer” experiences: the problems that customers don’t complain about but that drive down their economic value.

This is a huge challenge for companies seeking to simplify customer experience. Based on 15 years of research in retail, financial services, pharma, manufacturing, telecom and insurance, Verde finds that the intersection of “most frequent” problems and “most damaging” problems is generally under 50%.

Look at the chart below, which illustrates the overlap between a company’s “most frequent” problems and their “most damaging” problems. The data is from Verde research conducted in the last 18 months.

graph blog

The data shows that if these clients relied solely on “transactional” sources of customer dissatisfaction such as customer service complaint logs, negative tweets and sales call sheets, they would be ignoring 75% of the dissatisfaction drivers costing them revenue and market share. That’s a big miss.

Be proactive about understanding your “Silent Killer” experiences

A company can’t passively rely on customer complaint volume to identify their “silent killers.” These problems can only be discovered analytically by assessing the complex interactions of specific customer problem experiences with customers’ intended or actual economic behaviors.

This is not a trivial undertaking. It requires a disciplined research approach and a strategically rigorous assessment of the issues potentially hurting customer equity. But when a company unearths these silent killers the benefits are immense.

How immense? As an example: one year after making mostly tactical adjustments to customer experience processes, one of the Verde clients in the chart above realized a 9% revenue improvement in a key strategic customer segment worth over $20 million annually.

That’s a pretty high ROI on research. Clearly, knowing what really matters to your customers is worth the effort of discovery. If you want to simplify your customer experience and enjoy economic gain from doing so, don’t just ask customer service or the twittersphere what to do.

Take the time to find those silent killers. You and your customers will both be very glad you did.

Jon Skinner
Executive Vice President, The Verde Group

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