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Digital Pulse

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Four ways to know your customer in a post-survey world

Four ways to know your customer in a post-survey worldKey takeaways

  • Surveys are a good way to understand customers, but they aren’t perfect.
  • Organisations can now get rich and actionable insights without customers needing to put in effort to provide them.
  • Technologies are enabling organisations to stop asking and start truly listening to customers.

Customer experience professionals have spent fortunes on Net Promoter Scores (NPS) and similar ratings systems and have coordinated their agendas around driving those numbers up. In fact, a recent PwC report found that customer experience leaders believe that collecting, analysing and acting on customer feedback is the most important capability in achieving their future customer vision.

While this capability is important, it is really just the beginning when it comes to understanding customers.

Welcome to the post-survey world

Data-hungry organisations are encouraging their customers to complete more surveys than ever before. Ironically, tired customers are becoming increasingly unwilling to complete them¹.  A never-ending stream of surveys can annoy customers, be manipulated by employees and sometimes provide misleading results.

Fortunately, organisations now have the opportunity to understand their customers in more sophisticated ways than just relying on surveys. Customer insights in the post-survey world can be collected in real-time, with a range of tools and across the end-to-end customer journey.

Here are four ways to gain knowledge from your customers without bothering them with a another survey.

1. Knowledge from connected devices

In the past, measuring the success of the end transaction was the primary focus of customer insights programs. IoT data, which comes from the interconnected network of smart technology, gives businesses the power to understand the entire customer journey. Most organisations don’t realise the power of the data they already have at their disposal and the data from connected devices will only increase the volume and value of those data assets.

Retail shopping is a great example of this power. Retailers – using sensors communicating with an app on a customer’s mobile phone – can see when someone enters a store, what products they spend time considering versus those they only glance at, how long they stay in the shop and possibly even where they go after leaving. Combined with online metrics, this data can allow businesses to understand a customer’s habits and provide customised deals shoppers will appreciate.

IoT-connected devices don’t just measure what customers do, but how they feel. Using wearable technology, organisations could link physiological changes to real-world experiences in order to better understand pain points across the customer journey. For example, mPath has developed wrist sensors that can measure the stress levels of customers whilst they shop, providing insight into when customers are happy or unhappy as they move through a physical store².

2. Knowledge from speech analytics

The internet is lifting off the screen and becoming embedded into our daily lives. By 2020, 30% of web browsing sessions will be done without a screen³. Smart devices such as Google Home and other voice assistants are removing the need for hands or eyes when browsing. This continuous dialogue between brands and consumers is enabled by speech analytics – the quickly-advancing field of technology that helps businesses interpret dialogue for meaningful insights.

The data from conversations with digital assistants can be collated to provide a rich view of the customer. This may eventually culminate in devices in the home that are continuously listening to develop a deep insight into customer lives. Imagine if your home voice assistant could recommend a book to improve your child’s piano skills on ‘hearing’ the odd chord out of key, or suggest a training manual when it hears you training the dog to sit.

If a customer allows the data from their virtual assistant to be shared, what need is there for a survey?

3. Knowledge through visual listening tools

Organisations can take advantage of visuals as well. Enter deep learning visual listening platforms that use AI to see via image or video classification and facial recognition. While analysing text-based social media feeds can be valuable to organisations looking to encourage promoters and negate detractors, this listening needs to adapt for the visual generations who communicate in, and respond more to, images as opposed to text.

The retail sector has started dipping its toe into the world of visual listening platforms.

Taking a customer-journey led approach, hardware chain Lowe’s discovered that the renovation process started well before consumers entered its stores. Instead, many consumers began dreaming of what their future home might look like on stylised Pinterest boards. Lowe’s in-store app can now connect to a shopper’s Pinterest boards with an advanced deep learning platform to analyse the images and understand a shopper’s style preferences. It then matches those photos to Lowe’s products which are available to purchase on the app4.

Using visual listening, organisations can actually see customers’ aspirations, dreams and desires. In these candid moments, customers are often more honest and descriptive than in response to a generic survey.

4. Knowledge from geospatial analytics

Customer measurement often focuses on the ‘what’ (the product or experience) but misses the ‘where’ and the ‘when’.

Geospatial analytics – visually mapping location data from sources like GPS and social media – can help organisations measure where they should offer experiences to customers and when to do it. Moreover, spatial data provides the opportunity to measure customer behaviour across channels, effectively stitching together an online and offline view of the customer.

For example, new insurance pricing models such as on-demand cover (where a customer is insured at certain times and in certain places) are made possible with spatial data. Some insurers now offer insurance for sharing-economy taxi drivers only whilst they are driving with them, and use spatial data to track where they have travelled and at what times to validate claims.

This type of measurement places a previously unimaginable focus on the spatial and temporal elements of customer experience.

Stop asking, start learning

In the post-survey world, customer insights will be more important than ever. But they’ll need to be gathered quickly, easily, ethically and across the end-to-end customer journey.

Other ways to learn about your customers exist now, so before you send out that next survey ask yourself: could you do something else?


This article is by PwC Director Barry Trubridge and Senior Associates Will Kingston and Becky Walker of PwC Australia’s Experience and Insights Consulting practice.

For more insight on executing customer strategy, download PwC’s 2017 global report, Changing the game: The new rules of Customer Experience in the Intelligent Experience Economy.


1  www.forbes.com/sites/lydiadishman/2014/03/07/retailers-your-surveys-are-making-customers-suffer/#d6fbefe2b4fc
2  www.forrester.com/report/Beyond+Surveys+New+Tools+For+More+Effective+CX+Measurement/-/E-RES113646
3  www.gartner.com/smarterwithgartner/gartner-predicts-a-virtual-world-of-exponential-change/
4  www.forrester.com/report/The+Top+Emerging+Technologies+In+Artificial+Intelligence/-/E-RES137806

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