The time for annual planning has arrived, and my team has been much like many other organizations over the past several weeks - fully heads down in planning. While we have been thinking ahead to our priorities for next year, we have also been taking time to reflect on how we helped to improve our customers’ and partners’ experience this year.
I believe that taking time to reflect is important, but it’s not something we prioritize enough. It always seems to fall to the bottom of the ever-bottomless to-do list. It is important to reflect on ways that your team can improve, and to listen to what your customers and partners are saying so you can adapt and evolve your approach based on this feedback.
As we move into a new year, I’d like to recap some of the top things that we feel every organization should be focusing on from a customer experience (CX) standpoint. Below is a collection of insights that our team has collected and curated throughout the year, from industry research and various conversations with industry CX leaders and experts.
Here are the top three things that we believe you should be doing in 2023 to provide the best possible customer and partner experience:
1. Use several methods of data to inform your recommendations. NPS is one measurement of customer and partner experience, but it should not be the only one.
At Red Hat, we use the Net Promoter Score (NPS) metric to measure customer and partner experience and loyalty. The feedback gathered from this survey is primarily quantitative, providing a score that gives a quick glimpse into whether or not our customers are satisfied with their experience with us, along with verbatim answers that give us qualitative data to analyze and model.
As valuable as the NPS metric is, we know our customers and partners are always evolving and changing, so we should too, in order to stay relevant as industry standards and practices change. To better understand how our customers and partners are feeling throughout their journey with Red Hat, we added several listening posts that allow customers and partners to provide feedback more directly and at key times throughout their journey, from their initial interaction with Red Hat through to their contract renewal. You can learn more about these in our recent blog.
Our plan for 2023 is to simplify the NPS survey to encourage more responses, to collect more unsolicited feedback from internal and external sources, and to enhance our unstructured data (verbatims, comments) analysis and modeling.
And speaking of qualitative feedback—not only do we have a repository that includes thousands of comments from customers and partners that any associate can access, we also conduct focus groups and events solely focused on giving customers and partners the opportunity to provide feedback. We combine the findings from these customer-facing activities with the feedback we collect from surveys to create a holistic picture of customer and partner sentiment.
2. Close the loop externally! Customers want to see their feedback in action.
Closing the loop on feedback is crucial, both internally and externally. Working with your internal account teams to make them aware of how their customers are feeling about their experience is key (inner closed loop), but it’s also important to keep all customers apprised of how their feedback is being utilized to drive decisions (outer closed loop).
One gap that we noticed as a team in 2021 was that while we were communicating internally about enhancements being made to our products and services based on feedback we’ve received, we weren’t focusing enough on talking to customers and partners about these changes.
One area where we showcase all of the work being done based on feedback we’ve received is our You Asked. We Acted webpage on the Red Hat Customer Portal. We also launched a new Customer and Partner experience blog channel where we dive into what we are hearing from our customers and partners and how teams across our company are using this feedback to drive enhancements. There is also a contact link on our You Asked. We Acted. webpage to make it easy for customers and partners to share feedback.
We are here to act as the champions for our customer and partner's voice, and it’s important to provide them with ample opportunities and different ways to share their feedback.
3. Help teams across the business more consistently make strategic decisions based on CX data insights.
This final point may seem like a no-brainer, but it is critical that teams throughout your organization are consistently utilizing CX data insights to inform their strategic decision making, and this behavior should be modeled at the very top of the organization.
Executives should be aware of the main pain points and areas of opportunity for your products and services based on what your customer base is saying, and they should be thinking about these challenges when making important strategy and operational decisions. Product teams should be continually reviewing customer and partner feedback before they introduce a new product version. This should be one of the key checkpoints in the product development workflow. Digital experience teams should be making updates to web properties based on what will create the best user experience. Regardless of where you sit within the organization, customer and partner insights should be consistently at the forefront of every decision made.
So how do you do this? First, the CX insights that are being shared should be impactful, readily available, easy to understand and actionable. Once you’ve established which metrics are most impactful, insert them into every possible conversation, strategic forum, company meeting and newsletter to maximize visibility and awareness. Pull together a strong and expansive network of associates who are as passionate about CX as you are to act as advocates across the company and increase your reach and impact even further.
The bottom line
These key focus areas are imperative, but many B2B companies struggle to do them correctly and consistently, mostly due to the complexity of B2B business models. It’s also a common theme for companies to want to stay ahead of CX trends, so they don’t focus enough on ensuring the foundational elements of their CX program are strong, sound and consistent throughout the organization. Making sure the foundation is strong and won’t crack under pressure is the first and most important step to building and maintaining a successful and impactful voice of the customer and partner program.
As 2023 quickly approaches, how is your organization working to include the customer and partner experience into your strategy planning and goals? Let us know by sharing your thoughts in our Customer Portal Community. To learn more about enhancements we’ve made to our products and services based on customer and partner feedback, check out our You Asked. We Acted. webpage.
About the authors
Megan Jones leads the Customer & Partner Experience (CPX) organization at Red Hat. The mission of the team is to drive customer and partner success by collecting, analyzing and operationalizing feedback. She joined Red Hat in 2015 to build an analytics team in the Customer Experience and Engagement organization, and over the course of four years, she grew it to a global team of 24 data analysts, data scientists and engineers located across the US, EMEA and APAC. In 2020, she took over the Voice of Customer organization to lead the strategic vision of creating a world-class, "customer first" company culture, supported by insights and actions, connected across the customer lifecycle. In December 2021, she led the team's expansion to become the Customer & Partner Experience organization, now including Red Hat Partners in their mission.
Red Hat's Customer and Partner Experience team works to drive customer and partner success by collecting, analyzing and operationalizing feedback. The team works with all areas of Red Hat to drive enhancements based on the feedback we receive from users.