Realigning and Rebranding Consumer Affairs

By: Clarabridge Team

October 28, 2013

By:  Matt Cohen, Vice President of Strategic Accounts

Preparing for my annual pilgrimage to the Society of Consumer Affairs Professionals (SOCAP) Annual Conference, I can’t help but reflect on my experiences over the past six years. Wow, has it been that long?  Many Consumer Affairs departments have undergone a strategic realignment with a dramatic shift in value. There’s been a paradigm shift from cost center to profit center, or, as Biggie would say, “Ashy to classy.” Pardon my nineties reference for a moment.

Customer engagement, voice-of-the-customer (VOC) analysis, customer advocacy, and ultimately the customer experience aren’t new to the members of SOCAP.  Many of my SOCAP friends have been leading the charge to treat the customer as one of their own, championing consumer feedback about product and services across their organization, and to their business counterparts. In some cases, this analysis was reported directly against VOC data, but in most cases the customer’s voice was projected through hearsay or based on disposition codes.  And we know how difficult it is to analyze multiple reasons, and accurately assess the reasons from disposition codes. I digress.

It was common for this analysis to be ignored or marginalized. Marketing had its own method for listening to the “customer”; with custom and syndicated research, surveys and expensive agencies, VOC was solicited in a quantifiable format, losing all “voice” and emotion. Then came social media.

No one was prepared for the tsunami of unstructured and seemingly unmanageable data breaking through the damn.  Social media and consumer generated media isn’t new, but now it is traceable, trackable, storable and analyzable. And everyone is expected to be an expert.

This wave of unmanageable feedback came as a shock to everyone, but it also made our executives ask, “Who are our customers, and what are they telling us?” Then came the “stages of grief[1]:”

  • Denial – “Consumer generated media doesn’t change how we need to look at our customers!”
  • Anger – “Who are these people and what do they want from us?!”
  • Bargaining – “Someone needs to understand what these people are saying because social media is going to drown us.  Who needs budget to do it, and how much do you want?”
  • Depression – “We just spent enough to raise the Titanic to analyze consumer generated media and we’re chasing our tails.”
  • Acceptance – “It’s just not our time.”

Then a funny thing happened. The same group that had been listening, advising, nurturing, developing loyalty, and analyzing customer feedback became relevant again.  Companies realized that social media and consumer-generated media were just another listening post, big and important, where customers communicate with their favorite brands. And who’s better to listen and analyze these voices than your own customer advocates? Nobody knows the customer better than your representatives and advisors.

Over the past five years, I’ve seen companies strategically realign Consumer Affairs departments underneath Marketing to harness the full power of VOC and social media. By integrating commonly accepted customer feedback (contact center, and email) with social media into the same paradigm, companies are recognizing the need for a central point of analysis inside of their own enterprise, a central VOC hub. These same companies have begun allocating the resources and processes necessary to support such an endeavor. World-class brands employ Clarabridge to provide the technology and analytical backbone to support this vision.

By integrating the Customer Experience analysis and folding it into the enterprise, companies can expect to:

  • Create significant value out of traditional and emerging customer/consumer feedback channels
    • Systematically and automatically classifying and tagging sentiment in contact center notes, emails, Twitter, Facebook, etc., means being able to analyze every topic, complaint, praise, suggestion and inquiry
    • Analyzing known and emerging topics across channels gives companies a 360 degree view of their customer/consumer feedback
  • Take control of social media data
    • Agencies and third parties don’t understand your social media data.  They don’t live and breathe your business everyday.  What are they missing in their feeds and their analysis?
  • Reduce Cost
    • Eliminate costly outsourcing
    • Reduce manual coding and analysis
    • Remove duplicate efforts across the enterprise
  • Avoid Cost
    • Eliminate the need to hire 20 new analysts to read customer and consumer feedback
  • Increase Customer/Consumer Satisfaction
    • Identify key drivers of satisfaction scores, NPS, KPIs, and sentiment
    • Track the impact of changes to the Ps
    • Drive marketing campaigns around key learnings and insights
  • Find Upsell/Cross-sell Opportunities
    • Understand buying triggers
    • Dive in to understand cross brand affinity and find new ways to convert within your brand

[1] Kübler-Ross, E. (2005) On Grief and Grieving: Finding the Meaning of Grief Through the Five Stages of Loss, Simon & Schuster Ltd.

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