5 experience signals every marketer should know

7 minute read


Surveys capture the past. Signals power the present.

Understanding customer needs and expectations has always been at the heart of customer experience. But for many companies, early forms of gathering customer feedback simply relied on data collected from surveys.

While this used to be considered enough, these surveys don’t provide critical feedback across the customer lifecycle as every experience is a brand touchpoint. Omni-channel engagement combined with omni-channel signal collection is the only way to establish and truly understand the connection between customer behaviors, thoughts, intentions, and needs.

With brand love being impacted by experiences, understanding and influencing the experience your customers have is a necessity for marketers. The data richness of experience signals allow marketers to make each customer experience personal and actively provide customers what they want and need across every channel – even those who don’t engage when asked.

Getting customer experience right starts with a clear understanding of what matters most to the customer. Done right, customer experience delivers tangible business impact–driving loyalty, reducing churn, and upselling new products and services.

What are experience signals?

Signals are customer experience data points that come from different systems, channels, in-house technology, and even third-party sources.

Signal types include digital clickstream data, e-commerce information, POS data, call center interactions, CRM data, service interactions, IoT data, HR data, sentiment captured from videos, sales and marketing tools, and yes, even survey data.

Seeing the Complete Picture

Signals from a diverse range of inputs allows for a more comprehensive understanding of customer needs at any given moment in time.

Data Types

Structured data is made up of objective responses from a set of pre-determined inputs (i.e. surveys). Unstructured data is open-ended with feedback coming in many forms–such as call transcripts, messaging logs, website contact forms, social reviews, and more.

  • Structured

  • Unstructured

Indirect Feedback

What customers and employees are saying about you–in channels that aren't expressly designed to gather feedback.

  • Chat Logs

  • Social

  • Employee

Direct Feedback

How customers and employees share their opinion about you when directly solicited.

  • Email

  • Messaging

  • Voice

  • Video

  • Web & App

Operational Data

Structured data is made up of objective responses from a set of pre-determined inputs (i.e. surveys). Unstructured data is open-ended with feedback coming in many forms–such as call transcripts, messaging logs, website contact forms, social reviews, and more.

  • CRM

  • ERP

  • HRIS

  • POS

Observed Behavior

Data and events that reflect customer and employee actions or behaviors that are either observed or inferred.

  • IOT Signals

  • Visit Patterns

  • Event Data

More signals means better customer views.

With customer expectations evolving and the demand for greater speed and agility, marketing leaders are now looking to a broader, more diverse set of experience signals to truly understand how they’re doing in the eyes of the customer. To see the whole picture and act swiftly, with confidence, it’s critical, now more than ever, for brands to have a complete and comprehensive view of customer needs.

Why aren’t more companies using signals? For many organizations, timely and relevant experience signals are not leveraged because they exist in multiple, disparate systems, aren’t structured into usable datasets, and are not connected to known identities. In fact, many signals are expressed in ways that are invisible to organizations because they occur in operational and third-party systems that are not connected with the customer experience data environment.

5 experience signals every marketer should know

01Put all customer data to work

Combine experience, operational, and behavioral data across your systems of record and engagement to get the best insights. Customers are providing crucial signals each and every day in how they act and engage with your brand (or how they don’t).

For example, data from records captured in a CRM platform can be combined with other operational and observed behavior to not only uncover new patterns but also predict risk of churn.

By using a diverse signal field, you’ll have a more complete understanding of behaviors which leads to new insights and a deeper understanding of customer expectations.

02Uncover customer needs in real-time.

Using signals to better understand customer needs helps you give your customers a personalized experience every time they interact with you.For example, incorporating signals regarding campaign marketing and promotional offers to deliver the experiences your customers want. In addition to immediately offering to assist unhappy browsers find what they need to convert in-session (by syncing to live chat or directing to a get help page), incorporating customer event and feedback data with AI-powered analysis can help generate actionable customer experience segments for re-targeting and cross-selling marketing campaigns.

91% of consumers say they are more likely to shop with brands that provide offers and recommendations that are relevant to them.

Medallia Research, June 2018; Accenture Pulse Survey, 2018

03Engage customers whenever, wherever.

By engaging customers on their terms, you can increase willingness to provide direct feedback by offering the broadest set of options to do so. Observing customer behaviors can help identify channel preferences. By looking at more signals, you’ll create more ways to listen and understand feedback.

66% of consumers expect the ability to provide feedback on the channel they are currently using.

Medallia Customer Engagement Search, 2018

04Understand everyone–not just responders.

Receive insights from all customers about how they feel about your brand, product, or services by gathering indirect customer feedback. Traditional customer experience programs primarily look at survey data and compile feedback based only on those who take the time to respond to the survey. While that feedback is important and valuable, it completely misses those (most likely the majority) who do not respond to the survey.

On average, 18% of customers respond to surveys.

Medallia Benchmark, 2018

05Discover new ideas faster.

There’s a good chance your next big idea or product innovation will come from an employee. Find ideas faster by crowdsourcing them from both employees and customers. Using those employee ideas as additional signals brings a richer view of what your customers expect out of the experiences your organization is providing—and any shortcomings you may not even be aware of.

Getting Started

Identifying and capturing signals.

To ensure that the broadest selection of experience signals are identified and mapped into your customer experience solution, review the ecosystem to find ways to engage:

  • Look at customer journeys and life cycles to uncover all engagement points.
  • Map out your current customer signals, including social media.
  • Determine signal opportunities sourced from products and digital systems data, IoT and API data from 3rd party systems, and external customer data.

An important concept to understand while collecting customer signals is that every functional team will use different data in various formats. This means that your platform should be capable of analyzing and presenting data in ways optimized for each customer experience stakeholder. AI and machine learning play an important role in analyzing large data sets and providing intelligent recommendations
for action.

Once signal collection, analysis, and action recommendations become automated, an organization can focus on optimizing each unique customer experience. This is the key to getting ahead of the customer and creating surprise-and-delight experiences.

Choosing the right platform.

The most effective approach to customer experience requires the right mix of technology, processes, and people. Adopting a world-class, scalable platform to collect every signal is a good place to start. More than one thousand of the world’s leading brands rely on Medallia to:

  • Collect a wide range of signals from thousands of first- and third-party sources
  • Analyze millions of customer journeys
  • Make insights actionable using industry-leading AI and automation
  • Deliver experiences at a speed and scale that are customer-centric

Start turning signals into positive customer experiences and ensure your organization can stay ahead of changing consumer behavior and unpredictable market conditions.

Contact Medallia today for a free Customer Experience Signals consultation.