April 20, 2020No Comments

What will the world look like after the Corona crisis?

The Corona-pandemic has shaken the entire world and altered the way we live our lives, at least temporarily. The question is: how temporary is the current state we are in? Or rather how will our lives, society and world be altered and in what ways?

The immediate consequences we see so far are lockdowns, social distancing, an overwhelmed health care system, companies shifting to remote working models, gatherings being banned and borders closing.

The events caused by the pandemic are still unfolding and the many variables make it inherently complex to predict the outcomes. Will things go back to normal or will they forever change? Predicting the future is impossible but it is possible to see some early indications of trends that are emerging. In this blogpost, we will focus on three areas that we see will be impacted and present a couple of trends regarding each area:  

  • Globalization 
  • Healthcare  
  • Employment 

1. A changed perspective on globalization 

Since mid 20th century we´ve seen an increased interconnectedness thanks to the rapid advances in transportation and technology which have had a positive impact on global trade and cultural exchange. We live in a society where it’s easy to ship goods across the world and where it’s possible, and even considered natural, to work, move and travel abroad.

While globalization indeed has helped raise incomes, rapidly develop economies and increase production of goods and services – it has also helped increase the risks of contagion, both medical and financial. The spread of Covid-19 has been accelerated by the global interconnectedness, and our reliance on globalized value chains makes us vulnerable to the effects of the crisis. Will these downsides start to change our previously positive view of the free global movement?

1.1 Monitoring and controlling the free movement 

In order to prevent future pandemics, traveling will likely come with further safety measures using methods that could have implications on traveller's privacy. We have already seen examples of nations using technology to monitor and track contagion within the population. One example is China that has used monitoring systems to identify suspected coronavirus carriers but also to reinforce quarantine behaviours, using e.g. smartphone location, face-recognition, reporting of body-temperature and medical conditions. Other countries that have used similar solutions are Taiwan, Israel and Hungary.

We may see an upcoming increase in implementation of such solutions after the crisis, in efforts to try to avoid further pandemics. For instance, Apple and Google recently announced a collaboration with purpose of providing tools that will help track the spread of coronavirus. In the future we might start seeing tech solutions for checking medical health at airport security checkpoints, or we may need to verify our “health status” using biometric bracelets or medical apps on our smartphone, before we enter a country or a public space.

1.2 From lean and globalized value-chains to buffers and backups

Companies have become more and more efficient in their production processes and many have perfected decentralized global value-chains. A lot of companies rely on collaborations and partnerships with a network of global suppliers and these setups have in many ways been greatly beneficial for companies. Notable examples are Apple that has over 200 suppliers around the world and several car manufacturers, like Volvo, Hyundai and Fiat that are dependent on components that are made in China – all companies that now have suffered from halted production. China represents 16% of the global GDP and US represents 23%, making the whole world dependent on what happens in the Chinese and American economy.

We will probably see different production setups arising with an increase in safety buffers and a greater diversification of the supply chain.

We have recently experienced the downsides and risks of global supply chains and it has become quite evident that many organisations lack backup solutions and don’t have storage or buffers to rely upon to help them overcome temporary issues in the value chain. It is likely that we will see altered strategies after the Corona crisis, where organisations will begin to plan for handling another crisis or pandemic. It is not likely that we will see companies completely abandoning global value chains, since the benefits are still there, but we will probably see different production setups arising with an increase in safety buffers and a greater diversification of the supply chain.

1.3 Increased international collaboration and cooperation

The effects of the Covid-19 outbreak demonstrate how unprepared we are to handle such a pandemic on the international level. To successfully contain the spread of the virus, international collaboration and cooperation is necessary. Previous outbreaks such as Ebola in West Africa, or SARS and MERS have served as warnings, but did not result in enough international action. This time, things are different.

Although we have seen increased protectionism during the last years, it’s possible that this pandemic will acknowledge our interconnectedness and spur efforts to work together more closely.

We can learn from our collective experiences and use that knowledge to increase our preparedness for future crises. Isolation is a key component in containing the spread of a virus, but it’s not the best way forward when preparing for future, global events.

 

2. Shifting societal priorities and strengthening the healthcare system

This pandemic has revealed how vulnerable our societies are and the importance of robust healthcare systems with sufficient resources. The fast spread of the Corona virus has forced nations to put everyday life on pause and is putting increased stress on our societal abilities to cope with the spread of the virus.

2.1 A strengthened healthcare system

The pandemic has put our fundamental societal structures to a test, and in the aftermath, we may see a re-prioritization of resources. How can we make sure that we are better prepared for a global crisis such as Covid-19? And how can governments guarantee an effective health care?

Preparedness for crisis

It’s now obvious that most countries have not prepared for a pandemic such as Covid-19. The prime minister of Sweden – Stefan Löfven - recently acknowledged that our preparations have not been adequate. During the last thirty years, Sweden has deliberately disposed of medical supplies and equipment which would have been valuable today. We believe that this pandemic offers a rapid awakening regarding the consequences of the unexpected. Hopefully, we will learn from this experience and make sure that we prepare for future crises, not least within the healthcare system.

Resources and management

Our healthcare systems have been put under great stress for many years. We believe that after the crisis there will be a healthy and necessary discussion in Sweden regarding the resources allocated to the healthcare system. There is much to be done, not least ensuring that there are sufficient medical personnel available also in times of crisis. Hopefully, we will also see a shift in how the healthcare system is managed with less politicization.

2.2 The rise of self-help health care tech

We have already begun to see an accelerated adoption of “digital doctor” services since the pandemic started. The Swedish telehealth solution Doktor.se reports that the number of cases has doubled as a result of covid-19, a trend that other telehealth solution providers note as well. The increased adoption is seen largely in the older age groups as they, due to safety reasons, should avoid visiting hospitals.

The limitations in the traditional physical health care forces an increased adoption of new digital solutions and it empowers people to take personal control of their own health care. This drives up the demand for effective home diagnostics tools, telehealth solutions and other solutions that extend the reach of the healthcare professionals. We will likely see an increase in innovation and adoption of such solutions that will enable the individual to take a greater role in their own health care, even after the pandemic.

2.3 Healthcare efficiency enabled through AI and faster innovation

AI is already having a big impact within the healthcare sector, and it will likely play an even greater role in transforming medical procedures after the Corona crisis.

AI could support in making more accurate diagnoses, mass diagnosing conditions and be used to speed up the development of pharmaceuticals. AI can also help improve the patient experience and automate hospital processes.

We therefore see an increased demand of AI solutions as they enable efficient healthcare and improves nations capability to battle future virus outbreaks. The health care sector has, compared to other industries, been slow atembracing tech innovation and entrepreneurship. A possible result of this crisis could be that technological development, innovation and entrepreneurship within the health-care sector could be boosted and receive more resources going forward.

3. The future of employment

With the spread of covid-19, came also an economic crisis resulting in bankruptcies and mass unemployment. According to Forbes, the number of layoffs in USA could reach 47 million in June 2020, which would lead to an unemployment rate of 32.1%, higher than the great depression´s worst rate of 24.9%. In Sweden, 36,800 people have been laid-off during March 2020 which is 10 times the numbers from March 2019. The Swedish minister of finance Magdalena Andersson recently presented a report estimating that unemployment would reach 9-13.5%. We can also see how lockdowns and recommended social distancing, to battle the spread of the virus, has impacted schools and workplaces where many are nowadays working from home if possible. We see these events as important change indicators for the future of employment.

3.1 Gig-Economy providing the job opportunities

The gig-economy has during the past years emerged and grown more common thanks to the larger number of freelance- and gig-platforms available in a wider area of industries. The overall shift to a more gig-oriented job market has not yet been fully carried out, where one of the main challenges for the gig-movement is the perceived lack of employment security that the work form entails.

Due to the coronavirus we are unfortunately seeing unemployment rates reaching record numbers and finding a permanent position during these times can be difficult. It is quite possible that many, whom prior to the mass-unemployment rate have been unwilling to take gig-jobs, will need or even prefer to make the move into gig-economy. The shift to gig-work may either be of necessity, opportunity or due to a shifted perception of job security and the trend will likely be more common with younger professionals, within tech and consulting professions.

Short term we will see an increase in the number of job seekers, but eventually employers will slowly be able to engage in lighter investments again, resulting in more job-opportunities. The immediate resource needs in society due to lock-down are within delivery, health sector and e-commerce, however the future might create new job opportunities, as we will need to increase our crisis-mode capabilities both within organisations but also on a governmental level.

3.2 Will the entrepreneurship trend die out?

We have during some years been able to observe a growing trend of entrepreneurship, where an increased number of people have sought out to start their own ventures. The small businesses owners are badly hit by lockdowns and shops and restaurants are as a result going out of business. What will happen with them after the crisis, and will this result in the end of entrepreneurship?

We believe that entrepreneurship is a state of mind and this pandemic will bring creativity out of people. Entrepreneurship will not die, it will evolve.

A crisis tends to fuel entrepreneurship and innovation, and a disruption of current magnitude in the market will create new opportunities. Many digital tech entrepreneurs are currently flourishing, and we will most likely see many more enter the growing market sectors. In fact, opportunities even lie in the market of providing support to struggling small businesses during the crisis, where entrepreneurs can provide smart solutions within paytech, enabling home delivery and much more.

3.3 Digital workers and shifting work-life priorities

Due to lockdowns many companies shift to working remotely and digitally assisted. The “work from home” setup has presented organisations with some immediate challenges needed to be quickly addressed in order to increase efficiency and employee satisfaction. Even if many might initially be struggling with the new setup, there are also quite some benefits of remote work if you learn to manage it (and yourself) correctly. The increased flexibility and undisturbed working hours could enhance productivity and improve private life priorities.

We therefore strongly believe that the remote working model is here to stay, and organisations will need to manage the daily work-life differently and more consciously design the employee experience. The big move has already happened unwillingly due to the coronavirus, and now that many more have experienced the value of remote work it will become a necessity when moving forward.

Cartina recently posted an article about the topic of remote working – becoming the new normal, where a deep dive of our point of view is presented along with some recommendations for success. You find it here: When working from home becomes the new normal

What do you think the world will look like after the corona crisis? We would be interested in hearing your thoughts and ideas!

Please comment or contact us for further discussions.

April 7, 2020No Comments

When working from home becomes the new normal

- How to manage current challenges and prepare for a long-term shift

 

The pandemic is changing how we work

Undoubtedly, we are experiencing challenging times and one of many consequences of the Covid-19 virus is the large number of employees and students working from home. Far from everyone has the possibility to work from home. Among the ones who can, we see a differentiation in preparedness: some organisations already have remote working capabilities in place while others are trying to find their way. Nevertheless, every organisation faces new challenges when long-term involuntary isolation becomes the only way to conduct business.

Challenges with working from home

One of the most obvious and direct consequences of working from home is the loss of social interactions at work, which may result in reduced sense of belonging as well as missed information and collaborative efforts. In addition, lack of experience from digital collaborative tools could slow down productivity. Overall, we see a risk of declining efficiency and engagement.

The new normal

We don’t know how long businesses will have to work remotely, but we expect it to go on for a while, why we can assume that remote work will become the new normal. There is no time to waste, organisations must quickly manage the challenges related to social isolation in order to maintain or increase productivity and engagement.

 

Organisations must quickly manage the challenges related to social isolation in order to maintain or increase productivity and engagement.

 

Recommendations on how to build remote-working capabilities

Based on Cartina’s experiences from helping clients with digital transformation, we have compiled some recommendations on how to quickly build remote-working capabilities.

1. Engagement through inclusiveness and presence

Being physically isolated from you colleagues for a long time makes it important to ensure inclusiveness and presence in your organisation. Here are some of the keys to employee engagement and well-being:

Visible leadership

During a crisis, it’s important for leaders to be even more visible, accessible and present. Even if you cannot meet physically, leaders must show their colleagues that they are there; make an extra call, send a message, show that you care.

Timely, honest and relevant communication

Your company’s main stakeholders all demand timely, honest and relevant communication on what’s going on. Your employees want to know the status of your business right now, which decisions have been taken and what the plan is going forward. Don’t delay information which can be shared. Be honest and be relevant. Get to the point and cut the crap.

Small talk, lunches and coffee breaks

Set up social non work-related meetings and breaks. For example, at Cartina we start workdays with a morning check-in where we ask each-other how we feel and what’s going on. You can do this in a more structured way too, by asking questions such as what books are you currently reading? What has been your favourite meal this week? What are your best home workout tips? Other activities may be:

  • Setting up specific digital social gatherings where people join based on interest.
  • Online lunch-dates with random people across the business, to allow for spontaneous interaction, based on interest.
  • Digital after-works and reflection sessions.
  • 15 minutes home-training session to activate yourself and your colleagues.

2. Increase digital maturity through training

As a response to remote work, some organisations will need to introduce or expand the set of digital tools in order to secure effective collaboration. The choice of tools should be based on the collaborative needs and kept to a minimal variation. When implementing the tool, it's important that everyone is trained to reach full capacity for successful and effective meetings and collaborations.

You may be used to meetings, workshops, business briefing etc. but doing these 100% remotely while using digital tools is a different experience. To succeed, you must provide training and guidance so that everyone feels confident when it comes to leading and participating.

3. Enable effective meetings and teams

To create effective teams is a challenge. To create effective distributed teams is undoubtedly even harder. The key is communication, openness and continuous improvement. Explore what works and what doesn't for your team. Here is a list of recommendations which are equally relevant for non-distributed teams.

Effective teams

  • The team objectives should be mutually agreed and understood
  • There is a clear understanding of the different roles within a team and how they contribute to the objective
  • Continuously evaluate ways of working after meetings and in recurring improvement meetings
  • Enable psychological safety with openness and inclusion which is a pre-requisite for a culture of continuous improvement
  • Discuss and agree on WoW and working agreements within a team on e.g. communication and meeting behaviours. Should everyone mute their audio when not speaking, and how do you request to speak virtually?
  • Visualise result and progress to secure alignment on ongoing work 

Effective meetings and ways of working

  • Create agreement within- and across teams on meeting structures and meeting purposes to enable clarity and predictability, two elements that enhances focus and productivity.
  • Set up daily stand-up meetings to start the day. It creates focus and awareness on what the team is working on and where support is needed. This is probably even more relevant with distributed teams. Daily stand-up is a form of status meeting.
  • Try to shorten the meetings as much as possible, as it's difficult to focus for longer period online.

4. Create a seamless employee experience with mapped employee journey

When remote working becomes the norm faster than companies had prepared for, we believe it’s important to take a holistic approach of the employee experience. Make the investment and explore the real implications and values of remote work based on your company’s goals and people strategy.

 

The modern organisation will need to prepare for an entirely remote and digital employee experience.

 

The modern organisation will need to prepare for an entirely remote and digital employee experience, touching everything from recruitment to the employee leaving the company. However, it’s essential to define a digital employee journey that reflects the specific company values and culture which generates a sense of belonging and purpose. What makes this business stand out from others, and why should an employee stay? We believe that this step is essential for understanding and creating the best foundation for a fulltime shift into becoming the digital workplace of the future.

5. Becoming agile provides a structured approach to collaboration

The agile transformation requires substantial effort, but generates great value and prepares the business for the unknown thanks to its systematic approach to/view of e.g. organisation, leadership and ways of working. There is a lot to be said about agile organisations, which we will not address here. And you are probably wondering, what does agile organisations have to do with remote working capabilities?

 

Successfully scaled agile organisations also provide clarity and alignment on business purpose, prioritised initiatives and objectives and a structured approach to collaboration across and within teams.

 

We believe that remote working capabilities benefits greatly from the collaborative- and distributed decision-making capabilities maintained in the agile cross functional teams.Successfully scaled agile organisations also provide clarity and alignment on business purpose, prioritised initiatives and objectives and a structured approach to collaboration across- and within teams which generates predictability and enables focused efforts. Our view is therefore that agile organisations and the associated leadership-style, “the servant leader”, provides a good foundation for productive and effective work despite location – remote or onsite. The current situation could provide an opportunity for your organisation to start exploring what agile could mean to you and what benefits could come from changing your ways of working.   

In summary, it is likely that remote-working capabilities is not a temporary solution, but rather a long-term capability needed due to the lifespan of covid-19 pandemic and could be changing the future of work. We believe that remote-working capabilities does not only consist of a set of tools to be used in a certain context, moreover it's about leadership and ways of working, why we hope that your business will take the time to build the needed organisational capabilities to prepare you for the future of work.

Do you have ideas or would like to discuss further how you can build remote working capabilities through agile practices and employee journey mapping, don't hesitate to connect with us.

March 31, 2020No Comments

The value of fact-based decisions in times of crisis

"I've been in this business for 20 years and I've never seen anything like this before. Our revenue has decreased with over 90% and it's uncertain when and if it will go back to normal again. What should we do?"

 

We received a call last week from one of our clients, in which they expressed their concerns about the current market situation. As we are all being affected by the spread of covid-19 in many ways, it is easy to relate to the unfortunate and distressing situation that many businesses are facing today.

Six months ago, climate change and extreme poverty were two of the major global threats on the world agenda, however the world is currently facing another enemy, which is the global pandemic caused by the fast spreading coronavirus called Covid-19. Not only does this pandemic pose a threat to many people’s health and lives – it has also turned out to have big ramifications on the global economy, on politics, societal functions and the livelihood of countless people, resulting in mass unemployment.

Companies and business leaders are currently faced with a great level of uncertainty and are forced into quick decision making in order to survive, why access to relevant and accurate information is necessary. The stakes are high, and decisions made today may impact many employees, customers, owners, suppliers and business partners for months or even years to come. How we deal with information is therefore crucial for making well guided decisions.

 

How can we ensure that information is being processed correctly in order to maintain a balanced perspective, when we are overwhelmed with information from different sources, often influenced by a high level of fear and urgency?  

 

When analysing information it's important to be aware of potential biases and data gaps. The book Factfulness: Ten Reasons We're Wrong About the World - and Why Things Are Better Than You Think, written by Hans Rosling together with Ola Rosling and Anna Rosling Rönnlund in 2018, describes the pitfalls of interpreting information and the principles presented in the book are relevant for supporting fact-based decision-making.

For instance, there are three key things that are emphasized in the book to help us maintain an accurate view of the world:

  1. Realize that we don’t see the world as it is.
  2. Recognise what types of stories trigger our dramatic instincts.
  3. Use simple rules of thumb to resist over-dramatic stories.

One of the core messages in Factfulness is that it's easy to misinterpret information about the world, leading to an overdramatic worldview. The reason for this is not necessarily because the information we receive is wrong, but rather because it's taken out of context or only one side of the story is being presented. It is true that the situation we are currently facing is serious, but it is in uncertain and frightening times that it is even easier to make hasty and drastic decisions based on misinterpreted information.

Given our experiences from working with data-driven organisations and decision-making, it's very clear that our instinctive behaviours as humans and the way our minds function sometimes get in the way of drawing accurate conclusions based on data. Even organisations that have processes and tools in place for utilizing data effectively, experience challenges in interpreting data and turning it into fruitful actions.

If we revisit our client, who experienced a dramatical stagnation of revenue due to the current Covid-19 crisis: how could they implement a fact-based approach when deciding what actions to take? Here are some thoughts and suggestions:

1. Look at your options

No matter how grim the situation, there are always options. What are your options, and what are the implications? Developing and analysing different scenarios, not forgetting to take several perspectives and consequences into account is a good starting point. It is easy to make the mistake of only considering a problematic situation from a certain perspective and therefore disregarding potential consequences in other areas.

2. Check your information

What information do you have right now and what information do you need in order to make an informed decision? How can you bridge the gap? How reliable is the data you have and where does it come from? Does your organisation have access to data and analytics tools that can provide a new perspective? If you do not have it in-house, can you get the support or analysis externally?

3. Insights

Are you generating valuable insights to lay the foundation for better decisions? How do you connect the dots? What context are you putting the information in? It's important to keep in mind that the situations we're facing today are extreme and not necessarily the new normal. That doesn’t mean inaction is the way to go, but it is also crucial to maintain the long-term perspective of what to do when the circumstances stabilize again. Advanced analytics can support in providing actionable insights.

4. Action

Information should lead to action, otherwise you’re doing something wrong. If your insights are not actionable, the analysis may not be right. Sometimes more information can leave you feeling confused, but that is when data analytics and methods to interpret and present information can be useful.

5. Rear-view mirror

What do you see when looking in the rear-view mirror? Was the decision you took right? Have your received new information which should lead you to change the decision you made? If so, do that. When working in a data-driven way, the key is to continue to evaluate and measure success. What effects did the actions you took have on your business and performance? Feeding these insights into the loop are crucial for future decision-making and to improve the process.

At Cartina we help clients improve their decision-making processes. We do this by means of advanced analytics and digital transformation (e.g. with BI, AI, agile ways of working), information management, as well as understanding changes in customer drivers and behaviours to plan for future scenarios.

Do you want to discuss your plan to counter this crisis?

We’re here for you!

__________________________________________________________________________________________________

You can find more information about Factfulness and the 10 Rules of Thumb to keep your dramatic instincts in check here: Gapminder.org

January 17, 2020No Comments

6 steps for implementing CX measurements in your organization

(Time: approx. 4,5 minutes read)

Regardless of what measurements you end up choosing to measure your customer experience, remember – no KPI’s are relevant without a supporting setting. We highly recommend the following implementation approach, preferably used as a checklist, to ensure momentum in your measurements in a smooth, simple and successful way. Again, simplicity is the key. Therefore, we recommend you start with a small-scale implementation – much like a pilot. Implement small scale, test and evaluate during your ongoing work. Keep it simple and let’s get started! 

1. Select a limited number of KPI’s 

Our recommendation is that you prioritize among KPI’s. Pick a few that best suit your company. As previously mentioned, we highly believe in a small-scale start. It is far better that you get going, rather than trying to implement all KPI’s at once, as it’s easy to get overwhelmed with work and complexity. Our experience tells us that most companies have too much on their plate – which is why clear priorities very often is the way to a successful implementation. In this case; the fewer the better!

See our recommended measurements here.

2. Evaluate suitability with daily business

It is key that you incorporate the procedure of additional measures in your current processes and ways of working. It should be a complement to your daily business, not isolated activities with separate goals. Aim for synergies by using current ways of working when implementing; strive to use current measurements and data, forums and activities. For example, is it possible to use current data rather than adding new?

Moreover, the added KPI’s should be connected to current measures used by your company and in line with overall targets. This ensures a time efficient and smooth implementation and future ways of working. To become even more effective, evaluate the possibility to replace current measurements and ways of working with your newly selected KPI’s. One important aspect to consider is how a low or high score in your selected KPI’s will affect the other strategical KPI’s of your business, e.g. how big will the effect of a high or low score be on other KPI’s? This is a critical success factor when creating awareness of the CX KPI’s in the organization and to make sure the organization understand the impact of a good CX score.  

3. Set goals and benchmarks

When you are ready to measure, remember to create a baseline by starting with an initial measurement. These values are your starting point for further measurements and a baseline which enables measuring progress. It is also important to establish goals for each KPI in an early stage. This enables you to proactively agree on what you see as a good score and conversely an inferior score, which helps you navigate further on. In addition, it is important to understand the impact of your progress to the organization, e.g. on income, savings or efficiencies. Another critical success factor is to benchmark your goals and results. We suggest you start of by comparing them against results of your closest competitors. Both competitors that are best-in class as well as those who progress over time.

4. Decide on frequency and action plan

It is now time to decide how often you should measure and follow up, including acting based on the results from your measurements. As we mentioned before; apply a small-scale implementation here as well. For example, measure twice a year, present the results in chosen forums and decide how to act on the results. Preferably, use current forums as a starting point. Work with actions as initiatives with clear purpose and goal, timeline, budget, responsibility and expected outcome. Again, small-scale is a key success factor. Target the most important actions and package them as initiatives. Again, the fewer parallel ongoing initiatives, the better. You can of course create a large list of possible initiatives, prioritize among them, and create a roadmap for a while ahead.    

5. Appoint your KPI captain

Our experience tells us that another critical success factor is to appoint a responsible for the KPI’s and associated processes and ways of working; a person that is responsible for making sure that the measurements are accomplished and that ways of working are maintained and evaluated. This might be a perfect match for your Customer Experience Manager. If you’re missing out on this role, make sure to appoint a person as responsible.     

6. Each quarter – Take a look in the mirror

Finally, remember to evaluate your chosen KPI’s and ways of working. As a recommendation make sure this is accomplished quarterly by answering the following questions:   

  • Are we satisfied with our chosen KPI’s?
  • Should we add or remove some measurements?
  • Do we have time to measure our current KPI’s? 
  • Do we evaluate and follow up measurements in an adequate way? 
  • Are we running appropriate actions and initiatives based on the results from the measurements? 
  • Should we continue working this way, or should we change something? 

We hope you have found our guide helpful and that it has brought you one step closer to start taking control over your customer experience. Remember that the key success factor is to keep it simple in order to get started. We recommend that you start with a limited number of KPIs. They should of course be evaluated for their suitability with your company, but we have presented two measurements that we believe are relevant and worth trying for most companies due to their simplicity as well as straightforward and actionable results: The Customer Satisfaction Score (CSET) and the Customer Effort Score (CES). We also recommend that you include open-ended questions in your surveys in order to understand WHY your customers feel as they do about your product, service or interaction. Last but not least, make sure you implement your KPIs in your organization properly and evaluate them as well as your ways of working on a regular basis. Happy measuring!

 

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January 17, 2020No Comments

Don’t forget to collect free text answers in your customer experience survey

(Time: approx. 5 minutes read)

In our previous blog post we recommended that you start measuring your customer experience through two KPI’s; the Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT) and the Customer Effort Score (CES). These two measurements will give you quantitative data that answer the questions HOW satisfied your customers are with a specific product, service or interaction and HOW much effort is required for them to get their job done, i.e. to get an issue resolved, a question answered, or a product purchased/returned.

However, adding a simple qualitative layer to your surveys will allow you to better understand WHY your customers feel as they do. Therefore, we recommend you include open-text questions in your customer experience surveys. Open-text questions are basically questions that enable the respondents to write out their response within a text box. This enables the customers to use their own voice instead of the company’s pre-written option responses.

For example, CSAT surveys are not limited to one single question. You can use multiple questions and combine open-ended and closed-ended questions in the same survey.

Examples of open-text questions:

  • “In your own words, describe how you feel about (insert company name or product here)”
  • “What's working for you and why?”

To keep your survey questions as straightforward as possible, you might want to consider using just one word: “Why?”

We recommend that you make the open-ended questions optional since they take up more of the customers (and your) time. Thereby, customers who lack time or desire to leave a written response can still be part of the survey.

Last but not least, another way of showing your customers that you genuinely care about them is to include additional questions. These are questions unrelated to the survey questions such as for example:

  • “Do you have any questions for us?”
  • “What else would you like us to know?”

Analyzing free-text answers

So, you have done your homework and included open-ended questions to complement your survey. Now you are faced with perhaps hundreds or thousands of answers to summarize. How could that be managed? They key lies in grouping the answers into categories using what is called “coding”; assigning codes to the answers so the text can be analyzed just like numerical data.

Source: Thematic (2018)

First, decide if you should use manual or automated code. You can do automated coding using text analysis software. We will explain how you do manual coding, because even if you choose to use automated coding this knowledge will help you choose an effective approach. Word of caution, if you use open-ended questions and chose to analyze the answers manually, you need to be prepared to read all the answers.

5 steps to manual coding of free-text answers

1. Choose coding frame

If you choose manual coding, the first step is to choose between a flat and a hierarchical coding frame. Codes are put in something called a coding frame that represents structure and effects how useful the code results will be. The code frames can be either flat or hierarchical, the first being easier and faster to use and the second more powerful.

  • Flat (easier and faster to use): All codes have the same level and are equally important. But if you include a large number of categories it will become difficult to organize and navigate within it.
  • Hierarchical (more powerful): Include how the codes are related to each other and allows a higher level of granularity in the coding and analysis of the result. The hierarchical coding frame can support difference in sentiment, e.g. if the code in the top supports what the issue is about, the mid-level code can specify if it is a positive or a negative response and the last code can specify what made it positive or negative.

Example of a hierarchical coding frame:

Source: Thematic (2018)

2. Make sure your coding frames are flexible

Since coding manually takes a bit of time and therefore is costly, make sure your coding frame is flexible so it also can be used in later contexts. For example, your survey might have had the purpose of knowing how your customers experience your customer service, but the responses also include information about your products that can be used for another purpose.

3. Create high-quality codes

Three aspects to consider:

  1. Coverage: It is important to make sure that the codes cover all the wordings that have the same meaning, as respondents tend to use different words to describe the same thing. The coder needs a good understanding of the code’s coverage. For example, if the code is meant to cover the theme “clean” it should also cover words like “tidy” and “spotless” but also, expressions like “could eat of the floor”. You have to find the right balance between covering too much or too little. For example, using the code “product” might be too broad and the code “product stops working after using it three times” is probably too specific and will not cover enough responses.
  2. They capture positive and negative aspects separately. Make sure to have separate codes for positive and negative responses. For example, “useful product features” and “unnecessary product features” should be two different codes.
  3. They reduce the amount of data. The purpose of the codes is to reduce the total amount of data points in order to make the analysis useful. Therefore, avoid having too many codes or too few.

4. Choose between a deductive and an inductive approach

Deductive: In the deductive coding approach a pre-existing frame is used with predefined set of codes. It is an approach that intends to report back on specific questions. For example, if you already know that you are interested in “call waiting times” this can be one of your codes. The benefit of this approach is that it guarantees that you cover the items you are interested in. However, you need to be careful with bias, you might miss important themes with this approach.

Inductive: The inductive approach is iterative and includes sampling and re-coding. This approach is also called “grounded”, and basically means that you start from scratch and find codes from the sample responses and adjust them as you work your way through the responses. The process is as follows: 1. Read the sample 2. Create codes that cover the sample 3. Read the sample and apply the codes 4. Read a new sample and apply the codes again but note where they didn’t match 5. Create new codes 6. Go back and recode all the responses again 7. Repeat from step 4.

5. Ensure consistency

Whether or not you choose a deductive or inductive approach, it will be a challenge to ensure consistency. The coders state of mind and past experiences will affect the interpretation of the responses, and different people are likely to disagree on what the proper codes should be. Therefore, we recommend that you review how a change will affect all responses and log your line of thoughts connected to a code and change of code. A more time-consuming approach is to test the codes using either the same coder redoing the coding or another coder to remake it -and compare the results.

 

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Cartina has since 2013 helped both multinationals and startups translate digital opportunities into lasting and profitable business. We have since the start mainly worked with management services but are now expanding our offering with tech & design.

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