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Gathering and Interpreting Feedback: In Russia, it’s all about Trust and Pace

This article was first published on RBCC Bulletin Online in March 2020. Read here:

I recently met Igor in Moscow and had a nice chat with him. He is a newly appointed Customer Experience director at a global company.

When I met him, he was feeling a bit overwhelmed. He’d started this mission with great enthusiasm: improving customer experience and raising the level of customer satisfaction. But he quickly discovered that his tools were just a set of NPS surveys, all done on different systems with only one report every quarter. It would take him years to put together all this data, and consequently, any action he’d recommend or set up could potentially already be outdated!

As the cofounder of CXB HUB, I happen upon stories like Igor’s on a regular basis – it’s almost become a cliché. To give you a bit more background, at CXB HUB, we work with Fortune 500 companies in Europe & Russia, at different stages of their digital transformation and their transition towards better customer experience management. We support them by creating tailored CX/EX programmes, involving our tech partners to save time and money where it makes sense, whilst training managers and Heads of Customer Experience, setting up the best experience practices. So, I know very well indeed that Igor is not alone in this situation, and his story reminded me of a few facts that apply to business in Russia.

Improving customer experience first requires a research phase, the “listening” phase. Experience is the memorized feeling a customer will have after a service delivery, and one of the most important levers for a good experience is the perception that the service was delivered with empathy. Which is why it is more than essential to dig into the various emotions of our customers, uncover some trends, and understand what really is at stake for them.

Nowadays, in Western societies as well as in Russia, the expression of individual ideas is highly valued and so is “the right to have a unique perception”. The growing class of Russian millenials are exceptionally sensitive to this right to uniqueness, they refuse to be classified in sociotypes and want to be treated as they feel, as a unique person, at that very moment. The result of this phenomenon is a difficulty to predict behaviours and expectations because they change all the time.

Consequently customer experience professionals in both Western countries and Russia need to constantly adapt their practices and ways of handling situations – thus, here are 3 big ideas that always drive our actions.

We need to actually listen to many people, in order to reinforce our understanding and some predictability. And yet, we have to remember that people are fed up with answering feedback forms and wary of data mining. Shifting to short and personalized questionnaires is a great way to show our customers we care about their time as much as their opinion.

We need to react very quickly to any bad experience feedback, turn it into action and let the customer know that his feedback has allowed us to get better. Setting up processes such as “Close the Loop”, that make it visible to customers that we care about their feedback and find it valuable. But to implement those processes, we need to revisit our internal organization and adapt it, supported by agile managers, giving them the ability to empower front line staff a lot more. And if the feedback is good, communicate with the team and congratulate them.

We should trust employee feedback as much as customer feedback. Through the course of our projects, we’ve seen employee expectations increasingly match customer expectations. Furthermore, many studies now correlate our observations: that a good employee experience and a good customer experience are intertwined. Therefore, we believe any employer will benefit from listening to his employees and taking action from their feedback - employees have a lot to say about customers because they interact daily.

What roadmap for Igor?

Keeping these 3 big ideas in mind, it was easy to brainstorm with Igor and help him set his roadmap:

1/ Assess the feedback and managerial culture in the company

This benchmark should always be based on Russian and International competition, and adjusted to the internal culture and past successes. It’s always good to look at international best practices to get inspired, but adapt them to your company & country culture.

2/ Choose a relevant platform or feedback system, either in Russia or abroad, to speed up the “listening-acting-informing” process. At CXB HUB we are passionate promoters of Qualtrics for companies like Igor’s needing to process a big amount and complexity of data. In some cases a simple google survey and excel dashboard could be sufficient in a first stage, but as soon as you are global and get several hundreds of data per months, you need a platform system.

3/ Prepare Russian managers to involve both their Russian and international team members in a sophisticated and trustful improvement and innovation process, both on soft skills and service quality. The platform is the enabler, the organization is the house of innovation. Without change management, no useful action would be taken in the long run.

4/ Demonstrate the positive impact of this new insight management process, in terms of customer satisfaction, employee engagement and business improvements... And get some funding to streamline these processes and improve customer and employee experience on a wider scale!

To help Igor and other people in similar positions, we have partnered with a pool of CX and EX expert tech startups to better support professionals and companies with their experience management. Our latest partnership with Qualtrics, the leader in experience management, will allow CXB HUB to attain even greater goals in the years to come, by harnessing the power of Qualtrics’ world-leading experience management platform. The Qualtrics platform is designed to help deliver realtime insights and world-class support for analysing experience data. Using AI to analyse text and voices, Qualtrics not only surfaces hidden insights from customer feedback, but also recommends actions and routes them to the people in the best position to affect change in customers, employees and brands interactions. I believe that Qualtrics and CXB HUB would completely solve Igor’s situation, saving him time, money, effort, and giving him insights, understanding and coaching that he could not possibly get any other way.

Alexis Grabar, Co-Founder & Executive director, CXB HUB

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