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Silent Feedback: Adapting to the New Norm in Customer Experience

At Farlinium, we've observed significant shifts in consumer behavior over the years. One of those is how consumers provide feedback on products, support, and overall experiences. Today, we stand at a crucial juncture in CX, where understanding customer sentiment requires much more than just direct feedback. Delivering exceptional customer experiences today and in the future requires listening to the customers where they are naturally providing feedback.  

The Decline of Direct Feedback

In a recent post, Consumer Trends to Watch Out for in 2024, Moira Dorsey identifies this issue. She cites Leonie Brown, Qualtrics Principal XM Scientist, CX, “Even when customers don’t give feedback, they are talking to you in other ways - by spending less, visiting less frequently, and stopping mentioning you. The question is, are you tuned into those cues?” This change poses a significant challenge for businesses relying on traditional feedback mechanisms. In an era where 1 in 2 consumers may reduce or stop spending after a bad experience, the inability to capture this silent discontent puts substantial revenue at risk.

Understanding the Unspoken

Even without direct feedback, customers communicate their satisfaction levels through their actions - changes in spending habits, frequency of visits, social mentions, and what they say or don’t say during chats and calls. The critical question for businesses is: Are you listening to these non-verbal cues and taking action?

The Role of AI in Deciphering Silent Signals

Yes, AI was the tech du jour of 2023, but at Farlinium we have used advanced AI powered by Qualtrics XM Discover since 2016 to help businesses improve customer experiences. It plays a pivotal role in uncovering these silent signals. We can derive invaluable insights into customer sentiment and agent performance by analyzing interactions across various channels - including social media, chat, and call transcripts. This approach enables us to understand customer emotions and needs, even when not explicitly stated. Then, businesses can take action from the insights to improve their customer experiences, reducing costs and increasing ROI.

Sentiment Analysis: The Heart of Modern CX

The AI tool is based on sentiment analysis, a core feature of Qualtrics XM Discover. It leverages natural language processing to interpret the emotional tone of customer interactions. This tool is indispensable in a landscape where direct feedback is scarce. It helps us detect subtle cues of dissatisfaction or delight, allowing businesses to address issues or reinforce positive experiences proactively.

Of course, like the generative AI we see exploding around us, the tool requires custom setup and tuning for each organization. It needs direction to help it learn and understand. For instance, customers commonly use different terms or phrases from internal company definitions. Or, when a customer curses on a call or in a feedback survey, that doesn’t always mean they are upset. They might be expressing how awesome your product is.

Sentiment analysis is critical to help organizations understand human behavior well, but just as critical is human understanding to give it direction for each organization.  

Beyond Sentiment Analysis: Wordless Behaviors

Customers silently convey their satisfaction, dissatisfaction, or changing preferences through wordless behaviors. These include trends like decreasing repeat visits, reduced spending, less engagement on social media, or even subtler indicators like changes in browsing patterns on websites. Unlike verbal feedback, these actions don’t come with explanations but are equally telling. They provide invaluable insights into customer sentiment, often highlighting areas needing improvement that traditional feedback methods might miss.

Integrating the analysis of wordless behaviors into your customer experience strategy adds a layer of depth to understanding your customers. It complements traditional sentiment analysis, offering a more holistic view of customer engagement and satisfaction. This approach helps businesses react to explicit feedback and anticipate and respond to the implicit signals your customers send, thereby improving the quality and effectiveness of your customer experience initiatives.

Challenges and Considerations

While AI and expanded listening channels offer great potential, they also come with challenges. Ensuring data privacy, understanding your communities and cultures, and navigating the vast amount of unstructured data are vital concerns. The good news is that these challenges can be effectively managed with thoughtful implementation and adherence to ethical standards.

Real-Time Intervention: Turning Data into Action

Imagine standing next to a customer during a sale or support call and, in real-time, responding to their requests, spoken or silent. You could provide ongoing access and insight from previous conversations, serve the needed product information, offer customized support recommendations, etc. You can intervene as the conversation occurs with AI-driven tools like Qualtrics XM Discover. For example, if a live call transcript reveals customer frustration, an agent can immediately rectify the situation, potentially salvaging the customer relationship. Or you can provide the agent with a synopsis of previous, relevant conversations provided by AI, so they don’t have to ask the customer the same questions or put them on hold to review transcripts.

Additionally, by accurately analyzing wordless feedback, such as tracking repeat visits via Member IDs attached to transactions or monitoring sign-ups for rewards programs alongside AI-curated sentiment analysis, you can preempt challenges by improving customer experiences.

These are just a couple of examples. The possibilities are endless.

Seeing Your Results

As I noted earlier, Farlinium has worked with our clients since 2016 to implement AI into CX programs. We gain a more comprehensive understanding of customer sentiment by leveraging AI tools such as Qualtrics XM Discover and expanding listening channels. We can integrate analysis and recommendations from monitoring wordless behaviors.

In essence, we take your data, turn it into information, translate it into insight, and then work with you to implement that insight into impact.

This approach helps mitigate risks and opens new avenues for enhancing customer experiences. The ability to listen in new ways will be an advantage and a necessity in the ever-evolving landscape of customer experience.

This year, we are highlighting specific challenges and how we overcame them to help everyone learn. We want to help lift CX programs everywhere. Stay tuned here on the CX Horizons blog and newsletter for the latest resources. 

If you want to discuss how we can partner with you to improve your customer experience, use the form below and we will reach back out within one business day.