How AI Provides Insight Into Customer Motivations at Scale 

This week’s guest is Mary Drumond, chief marketing officer at Worthix, a leader in voice-of-the-customer technology solutions. Over the course of her career, she has developed a deep understanding of the challenges that brands face when surveying their customers to glean business intelligence and learn the motivations behind their purchase decisions or why they sometimes decide to abandon the brand. In this episode, Mary shares her insight into effectively listening to the voice of the customer while harnessing the power of artificial intelligence (AI) to do so at scale as part of a digital transformation strategy. 

Developing an Expertise in Customer Engagement 

Mary has built an expert knowledge of the value of understanding the customer’s voice, both from her perspective as the chief marketing officer at Worthix and as an entrepreneur herself. She spent the first 15 years of her career as an entrepreneur focused on building her brand, assessing the voice of the customer, and meeting their needs. 

With this strong knowledge base and a drive to continually learn more, she sold her company and moved to San Francisco in 2016. She really enjoyed marketing and decided to focus the next phase of her career on advancing the customer experience through the marketing lens. She joined the Worthix team surrounded by brilliant minds and further developed her expertise in understanding the voice of the customer. She is grateful not only for her Worthix colleagues but also for the collaborative nature of individuals throughout the customer service industry. 

Why Brands Need to Listen Effectively to Their Customers at Scale 

Mary is keenly aware that in order for a company to be successful it must be connected to its customers. She says companies exist for the sole purpose of everyone within the company working together to reach a common goal: to solve a pain point or a customer need

Understanding the customer’s needs is absolutely crucial to the success of any organization. And, the best way to learn the customer’s needs and expectations is to listen. Listening effectively to assess customer satisfaction can seem attainable for small operations, but the larger the business, the more challenging it becomes to listen at scale to the customer’s voice. 

Harnessing modern technology solutions enables business process outsourcing (BPOs) like iQor as well as brands themselves to listen at scale, regardless of the number of customers or markets. This supports one-on-one connections with each customer and enables brands to truly understand what matters to their customers and tailor their customer experience strategy accordingly. 

Traditional Customer Survey Methodologies Often Hinder Meaningful Results 

Technology has come a long way since the days of Henry Ford’s ability to listen to his dispersed customers. Yet, despite the availability of widespread advanced technology, many companies still struggle with listening to the voice of the customer and doing so at scale to accurately assess customer satisfaction. 

Despite tremendous strides in the digitization of soliciting customer feedback at various points in the customer journey, there is still a lot of room for growth not only in how this feedback is collected but in how we listen to and analyze it. In many instances, the systems in place don’t yield actionable feedback. Brands need deep insight into customer needs, expectations, and motivations. 

The crux involves identifying the essential need the customer is trying to solve through their interactions with a brand. To meet those needs, brands must align their value propositions accordingly with the customer’s most urgent needs. 

To gather customer feedback on customer needs, many companies have traditionally used complex systems with long questionnaires that require high levels of effort from customers.  Further, the surveys typically limit customer responses to the questions the company asks and it’s truly impossible for the company to ask all the right questions. This process involves a lot of guesswork and doesn’t yield the most insightful results. In fact, most of the data collected go unused. 

Despite best efforts, trying to empathize with customers and understand their pain points creates many blind spots in surveys because the feedback is limited to only the questions that are being asked. But what if the customer sees things in an entirely different way? 

What if the customer has needs that aren’t even showing up in the survey questions? What ends up happening is that companies extract enormous amounts of data, exhausting customers with survey requests instead of efficiently assessing customer interactions and customer needs in order to understand which pain points matter most in the relationship with the customer.  

Indeed, with complex surveys yielding troves of data, identifying what truly matters to customers to create actionable change ends up being like finding a needle in the haystack. That’s where speech analytics and dynamic surveys powered by AI technology come in. 

How AI Empowers Brands to Listen Effectively to Customers 

With antiquated and cumbersome systems that often miss the mark in identifying the true customer need, it’s time to overhaul voice of the customer technology. Sometimes the customer being surveyed or solicited for feedback doesn’t actually know how to articulate valuable insights that are relevant and actionable. 

Artificial intelligence applied to the front-end of the customer survey can help streamline surveys to yield more purposeful and individualized questions in response to customer interactions. This, in turn, produces insightful results based on the voice of the customer. This is especially helpful with concepts that customers have difficulty expressing and explaining. 

Worthix created an AI methodology based on behavioral science to truly understand customer motivations, even the intangible ones. This approach also provides insight into customer feedback and concerns that may not actually be deal-breakers that cause them to churn and abandon the brand. 

Using AI technology to deliver open-ended questions and determine follow-up questions based on customer responses provides deeper insight into customer experiences and yields shorter, more dynamic, and more effective surveys. It empowers customers to share feedback that is actually meaningful to them. This generates more actionable data to enable brands to take meaningful action that can reduce churn and improve the overall customer experience. 

This truth calls attention to impact vs. frequency, which is essential for companies to understand. Frequent complaints don’t necessarily mean the impact will cause customers to churn. AI technology can help sort through the noise of the complaints to identify the actual issues customers experience with a brand and what their true deal breakers are. Using AI technology to support churn analysis and prevention empowers brands to identify root causes and improve their customer experience. 

AI Simplifies Access to VoC for Improved CX 

How do companies assess the voice of the customer (VoC) to identify impact over frequency and prevent churn? Moreover, how can companies turn dissatisfied customers into happy and loyal customers? 

Mary uses the example of a magazine subscription client that experienced massive churn in a region of their distribution area. Customer service and VoC feedback seemed to indicate that customers were churning because the magazine arrived at newsstands before arriving in subscribers’ homes. The company was prepared to make a massive investment to improve logistics and ensure the magazine arrived at subscriber residences before landing on newsstands. 

But with the power of AI, Worthix determined that even though the number one complaint was that the magazine arrived at newsstands before being delivered to subscribers’ homes, that wasn’t the most urgent issue that needed to be addressed because it wasn’t the reason for customer churn. 

What truly caused customer churn was a complaint that ranked seventh on the list of survey responses. The seventh-place issue doesn’t typically get the most attention from executives who study the data, but it was of the most critical importance in this case. The real issue causing churn was a credit card dispute in which customers expected to pay a certain amount but were actually charged a higher amount. The solution to reducing the customer churn was simply to speak to the sales team and have them correct the selling price numbers.  

Accurately informing customers what they would actually be charged cost nothing to fix and prevented the expectation that a massive overhaul of distribution logistics would’ve mitigated the churn. 

This highlights how important it is to use AI technology in the front-end of customer surveying to listen at scale to more accurately assess customer feedback and customer sentiment. This helps brands identify customer needs and glean insights that empower decision-makers to prioritize the actions to take that boost customer engagement and satisfaction. 

Voices of CX Podcast 

Mary hosts the Worthix Voices of CX Podcast focused on the voice of the customer, providing the CX industry with access to the voices of diverse CX practitioners. She speaks to thought leaders, authors, and practitioners on the front lines creating positive customer experiences. 

She and her team recently reached a milestone with their 100th episode and an all-time high in listeners, downloads, and streaming. They also launched a new video series based on the podcast called CX and Summary. 

The Evolution of Women in CX 

Reflecting on the evolving role of women in CX, Mary draws on research that shows the majority of people working in customer experience are women. 

What she finds alarming, however, is that most of the CX roles currently occupied by women are operational in middle to lower management positions. She finds very few women in executive CX positions responsible for decisions in customer experience solutions. 

When women tend to be empathetic, compassionate, and connected to customers on a one-on-one level, Mary thinks that should be reflected through a stronger presence of women in executive leadership roles in CX. 

With the root causes for this discrepancy going back hundreds of years, she advocates for change. She has encountered many brilliant women in the customer experience space and she goes out of her way to shine a spotlight on these amazing women in her podcast. Her focus is on helping individuals and CX practitioners to feel represented and to know there is a clear career path to leadership. 

What Mary Does for Fun 

Mary loves being active and spends a lot of her free time at the gym. She practices Olympic weightlifting as a sport, lifting heavy weights over her head. Not only does she find it incredibly exciting, but she has also applied much of what she has learned throughout other aspects of her life.  

One thing she’s learned is to constantly push her limits, knowing that if and when she fails, she will grow from it. 

Another thing she’s learned from weightlifting that has helped in her career and in her personal life is the strategy of constant practice and decreasing the weight to increase the repetitions while focusing on her technique. This reminds her that once she’s reached her limit it’s time to scale back, work on her technique, tweak it, and then go back and try it again. 

She fully embraces a growth mindset, knowing that failure is not the end—it’s a hiccup along the path to success. 

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