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Adapt Customer Listening to Improve CX During COVID

By Frances Russell | April 17, 2020 | 0 Comments


In the past, marketers have used customer listening to test ideas and fine-tune solutions, but right now, marketers are primarily interested in using these tools to monitor customer opinions and needs during COVID. More specifically, these tools include social media monitoring, call (and/or chatbot) listening and surveys.

Unlike customer advisory boards, focus groups and other forms of customer listening, none of these require formal meeting times or face-to-face interactions. For many other reasons too, these tools are extremely valuable to have in the toolkit, but they’ll need some polishing to work during COVID

Here are 3 important ways that marketers should consider polishing their customer listening toolkits to accommodate for changing customer behaviors and needs from marketing:

  1. Incorporate image analysis in social media monitoring: Social media monitoring is used to analyze unstructured customer feedback such as reviews or posts on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter. These tools enable marketers to respond quickly to customer opinions that “go viral” and recognize problems before they become crises. The ease with which many consumers upload, edit and share files (e.g. pictures of closed stores, logo changes, etc.) and the popular use of GIFs and memes during COVID challenges marketers who have primarily used text analysis, not image analysis, in the social media monitoring space before. AI-enhanced solutions can help marketers analyze text within or transposed onto images to surface themes in customer opinions, both agnostic of and specifically about the brand. 
  2. Broaden the use cases for call and/or chatbot listening: Organizations use automated call systems and/or chatbots to increase efficiency by automating the process of routing customer requests to customer service representatives with the right expertise. In a stable business environment, there may be slight fluctuations in the number of customers calling in about specific issues, but these fluctuations are managed and accounted for. The impact of COVID on customer service in the insurance and healthcare industries is predictable in some ways, but the impact on other industries is more difficult to anticipate. Organizations will want to monitor what customers are calling in about to inform decision-making about upskilling, resource reallocation, segmentation and updates to their taxonomy of product and service usage issues. Additionally, in the past, these tools have used sentiment analysis to identify “highly charged” cases but may now be helpful in training customer service representatives to handle COVID-related panic, anxiety and remorse that customers bring to interactions.  
  3. Personalize responses to customers who participate in COVID-related surveys: For many reasons, fear of low response rates among them, some marketers have decided to postpone NPS and CSAT survey deployment in favor of the approaches above. Yet anecdotally, marketers who have deployed surveys specifically on COVID-related changes to CX have seen response rates that are high enough to be actionable. Organizations should be wary of sending these surveys without piloting them first to ensure customers are willing to respond. Why? Not only are customers being bombarded, but their survey-taking experience affects their likelihood to respond in the future. 84% of customers say they want to know how the company will use their feedback that’s collected in surveys, but more than 75% say they rarely hear back about results or changes made. Data shows that by explaining how customer feedback will be used, companies greatly increase the likelihood that customers will participate in future surveys – which is important if you’ve chosen to postpone any others. Create a mini-repository of content that can be used to generate personalized responses back to customers at scale. Otherwise, carefully consider whether the planning (or lack thereof) for these surveys is worth the responses you’ll get back (or won’t get back) both immediately and long-term. 

Customer listening tools hold a lot of promise for marketers right now, but marketers must be strategic in the design and use of them. Otherwise, organizations risk missing the pieces that are most important for improving CX during and after COVID.

The Gartner Blog Network provides an opportunity for Gartner analysts to test ideas and move research forward. Because the content posted by Gartner analysts on this site does not undergo our standard editorial review, all comments or opinions expressed hereunder are those of the individual contributors and do not represent the views of Gartner, Inc. or its management.

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