The Big Shift: From Cost Center to Insights Hub

By: Clarabridge Team

February 10, 2015

By: Matt Cohen, Vice President of Strategic Accounts

Over the past several years, 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.)

Consumer engagement, Voice of the Customer (VoC) analysis, consumer advocacy, and, ultimately, consumer experience aren’t new concepts. In many organizations, Consumer Affairs departments have been leading the charge to treat the consumer as one of their own, championing consumer feedback about product and services across their organization, and to their business counterparts. In the past, this analysis was sometimes reported directly against VoC data, but in most cases the consumer’s voice was projected through hearsay or based on disposition codes. And anyone involved in Consumer Affairs knows how difficult it is to analyze multiple reasons, and accurately assess the reasons from disposition codes.

It was common for this analysis to be ignored or marginalized. Marketing had its own method for listening to the consumer; 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 dam. 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 executives ask, “Who are our consumers, and what are they telling us?” Next 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 already been listening, advising, nurturing, developing loyalty, and analyzing consumer feedback became relevant again. Companies realized that social media and consumer-generated media were just another listening post, big and important, where consumers communicate with their favorite brands. And who’s better to listen and analyze these voices than your own customer advocates? Nobody knows the consumer better than your representatives and advisors.

Since this shift, I’ve seen companies strategically realign Consumer Affairs departments underneath Marketing to harness the full power of VoC and social media. According to Gartner research, marketing is responsible for consumer experience strategy, design and improvements—more than any other function.

By integrating commonly accepted consumer 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 Consumer 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 classify and tag sentiment in contact center notes, emails, Twitter, Facebook, etc., in order to analyze every topic, complaint, praise, suggestion and inquiry
  • Gain a 360-degree view of customer/consumer feedback by analyzing known and emerging topics across channels
  • Take control of social media data
    • Find the nuances and insights that outside agencies and third parties will miss
  • 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.

Follow @cohen8150 on Twitter