How CES Can Help Your CX and Product Teams Work Better Together

Brandon McFadden is Kustomer’s Customer Success & Support Manager, you can follow him on Twitter at @brandontonio.

This post was adapted from a workshop delivered at Support Driven Expo in Portland. We had a blast sharing and learning with the Support Driven audience, check out their recap here, as well one from Jeremy Watkin at FCR that discusses our presentation as well!

While they may not always understand each other, your Customer Experience (CX) and Product teams actually do want the same things. However, they speak two different languages. With the right metrics, specifically using Customer Effort Scores, you can make informed, data-backed decisions from customer feelings that will ensure you’re making the right choice.

Product goals typically focus on adding new features, achieving parity with competitors, or fixing issues that are affecting adoption, ease of use, or the ability to wow your customers. Their job is to anticipate what the customer will want next.

On the other hand, CX is usually focused on what customers say they want now—because they hear from them every day, all day. CX wants faster handle times, lower email volumes, reduced complexity, and the power to wow your customers.

When these two teams work in sync, amazing things can happen. CX has especially deep insight into customers wants and needs based on thousands of firsthand interactions, while product has the full scope of your company’s technological capabilities, business goals, and product roadmap, and are great at coming up with new innovations before customers even know what they want. However, there’s often a recurring problem in the Product / CX dynamic. When Product has the window of time to ask CX for their input on what “problems to tackle next”, the two sides can disagree. When looking at where customers spend the most time using the platform, and where they’re having the most difficulties, CX will advocate for smoothing out a more complex problem that affects fewer users. Product will often lean towards reducing the highest quantity (because that represents a larger base of users and a more frequent touchpoint), so that a greater number of users will have an even faster experience.

While seemingly different, there is one key ingredient: Both teams want to wow customers! Finally, common ground!

Another common language we all speak are shared company goals. The aim of all these features and fixes are the same: more renewals, more referrals, more repeat customers, and faster resolutions. Making decisions about how to get there can be tricky. This is because it is hard to measure the feelings of your customers, yet feelings are how humans make decisions.

At this point most teams will most likely look to NPS or CSAT to help give direction towards the issues to focus on fixing, but those traditional metrics can often be very misleading. Scenarios wherein a customer gives you an NPS score of “10” may only actually recommend you when they find someone who they feel is just like them (as smart and with the patience to put up with the complex support issues they faced). Most of the time, when the moment comes for them to make the recommendation their NPS score said they would, they don’t do it. Likewise, CSAT may provide a very high 9/10 rating of your amazing agents, but what the customer is left feeling is “why did I even have to call in the first place?”. Feelings are the gateway to actions. So while they like spending time with your agents, it doesn’t mean they will feel comfortable continuing to deal with these issues (churn) or suggesting you to a friend. This is all because of the expectation or effort gap.

So, how do you get to the root of this disagreement in expectations AND quantify feelings? It seems like the correct course should be obvious. Product is in the right on this one surely, the fix that affects the most users (in this example it’s improving refund requests) should be completed first. Why would the CX team think otherwise?

This is where CES shines. As CX pros, we see a different side to the story in this chart. The problem that is only affecting a minority of users (plan correction, in this case), is where you’re letting customers down the most. Sure, it’s lower quantity/volume than the other issues, but those customers are having a far worse experience based on their expectations, and taking up just as much of CX’s attention/time as the other issues. CX hears their complaints, and their frustration is visceral. From your customers’ perspective, it seems like making their experience way better would only require you to “just change a bit of code” (cut to thousands of engineers slamming their heads against their desks). AHT is important, but only tells part of this story, but CES makes it much clearer.

Measuring CES puts the severity of the problem in stark relief, and puts a hard number next to what your CX team has been feeling all along. Now it’s easy to see that these customers are doing more than spending more time on the phone—they’re actively struggling to deal with your company, and you’re probably losing them as a result. This issue is even greater if you’re a startup designed to “save you time” or “simplify” our lives, you’re literally training your customers to expect everything (including service) to be smarter, faster, and effortless. This problem is even worse if you are in an industry where external factors can slow up resolutions (medical, financial, insurance, etc). Improving the other issues on this list shouldn’t be neglected, but prioritize the customers who are unhappy first. Most won’t notice if their attempt to get a refund was 15 seconds faster (a 25% efficiency gain!), but they will definitely appreciate when a more complex issue becomes a breeze when the “industry norm” is so much more—and will likely save your CX team more time in the long run.

There’s even a school of thought that says you shouldn’t fix those simple problems that your team is great at handling and consistently giving that wow experience because it is another chance to exceed expectations. This is because every interaction is a chance to build a deeper relationship with your customers, and if you’re delighting thousands of them with a simple call or email, you’re deepening each one of those connected feelings in the process. This is despite having a problem in the first place. Remember, you are often judged more on your resolution than you are on the problem itself. Of course, you want every experience to be as smooth as possible and for customers to never have a problem, but by not trying to eliminate these homerun issues entirely you get easy opportunities to impress and excite your customers. Certainly, something to consider when making the case to not always simply fix the highest volume issues. And, with CES, you’ll always know if those issues are beginning to wear your audience’s patience thin.

In my experience, Product and CX are on the same page 95% of the time, but they may not always be speaking the same language. So when there is a disconnect, it’s always down to looking at the data to clear up those disagreements. Ultimately, CX deals with feelings directly more than any other team, and are therefore tasked with quantifying the qualitative. For that reason, having a platform that measures CES can drive CX and Product teams to make your customers’ experience exceed their expectations.