Webinar Recap from Temkin’s “Driving CX Action, not Just Insights”

CloudCherry | Featured | March 14, 2019

On October 12th, we co-hosted a webinar with the CX Network where customer experience legend Bruce Temkin shared his insights on turning customer feedback into actions. He walked us through the five stages of voice of the customer maturity and shared advice on how CX teams can move their firm from Stage 1 Novices to Stage 5 Transformers.  

In this article, we recap the discussion and highlight the key takeaways which can help you turn your customer insights into actions that drive business value.  


Dawn Paulos – Dawn is the VP of Marketing at CloudCherry. She specializes in building high velocity, data-driven marketing teams for early-stage growth companies. 

Bruce Temkin – Bruce is a customer experience visionary, speaker, advisor, researcher, and co-founder of the Customer Experience Professionals Association. He is a managing partner at Temkin Group.  

The Goal: More Action from Data Analysis 

Businesses are collecting more data than ever before, but they often do very little with it. Using structured and unstructured data to learn about customers is great, but it’s what you do with that data, and when you do it that really matters.  

As Temkin said, “All of the efforts around surveying, integrating data, analyzing, etc. are only as valuable as the actions that they lead to.” 

Temkin believes businesses need to move from descriptive analytics (data that describes the current state of the customer experience) to prescriptive analytics (information that informs the team exactly what to do to improve the customer experience). In order to do so,

Most companies get value from their VoC programs, but not many companies say VoC has transformed strategic activities.  

A study presented by Temkin showed that 74% of companies say their VoC program is somewhat successful or very successful.  However, when looking at the stages of maturity for VoC programs, it shows they aren’t actually effective in influencing action.  When defining the stages, Temkin looks at how much or how thoroughly each type of company uses the data they collect. Note that collecting VoC data is now table stakes – almost everyone listens to their customers, but very few have moved their VoC program beyond collection.  

Stages of VoC Maturity 

Stage 1: Novices — companies just starting to look at VoC programs, but they haven’t done much with it. 

Stage 2: Collectors — companies that are very focused on figuring out and refining their listening points. 

Stage 3: Analyzers — companies that are already collecting and using data, but they spend a lot of time analyzing it to figure out key insights.  

Stage 4: Collaborators — companies where VoC has strong relationships with people across the organization. They have integrated efforts from insights work with the operations of the rest of the organization. 

Stage 5: Transformers — these are companies where customer insights are embedded all the way up to strategic activities of the firm. 

The maturity of most VoC programs is low. 

The most mature VoC programs, the Transformers, are using data from a variety of sources, and they’re effectively taking action on insights from that data. Temkin said, “As VoC programs become more mature, these teams get hungrier, and recognize the necessity for integrating other data sources across the organization.” This starts to accelerate the maturity of the program naturally.  

Unfortunately, very few companies are there yet. Temkin reports that 60% of VoC programs are soliciting feedback, but only 24% of VoC programs say they are good at making changes to the business based on insights.  

Collectively, the CX industry needs to be doing better.  

For many industries, customer experience is really the only way you can differentiate. Take for example, credit unions and airlines. Innovating on the customer experience in these crowded, cost sensitive industries is often the only way they can stand out. But getting all of the data from all of the systems they use, getting it to work together and provide valuable insights they can take action on is really hard. Often teams need more resources to analyze and action their data, but budget can be hard to come by.  

As Paulos stated, “CX teams often struggle to get budget because it’s really difficult to provide relevant and actionable data right away. Being able to tap into all of the data in the organization is critical in order to get a complete picture, but this is difficult to do.” 

Actions need to be timely, but this is often both difficult and expensive. 

Once you have insights, it’s time to act. Getting insights in real-time is key. The more real-time the insights come in, the more real-time actions can be taken, and this can often mean the difference between a good customer experience and a bad one. 

The example Temkin provides is a customer complaint about a dirty bathroom in a fast-food restaurant. Real-time insights on that customer complaint could hypothetically lead to four actions: 

Immediate response: If a customer complains about the dirty bathroom, talk to the customer and apologize. Do all the things you would do with an upset customer. And keep in mind, this immediate response is not only necessary for the people who complained, but you need to find all the other people who experienced the problem as well and apologize to them. This won’t be possible with a less then real time solution.  

Corrective action: Clean the bathroom so that no one else has the same experience. The fast this action happens, the fewer the customers that will be affected.  

Continuous improvement: Roll out new processes. Consider teaching the importance of a clean bathroom, and put something in place so that it doesn’t happen in the future.  

Strategic change: Get hand dryers so wastebaskets don’t overflow with paper towels.  

These are typical examples of actions that can be taken from customer insights. Each stage can be applied to any customer insight in any industry. But notice how important speed of insight is to making a difference to the customers directly impacted.  

Acting eventually is fine, but action needs to be quick to avoid impacting more customers with the same bad experience.  

6 key trends of customer insights 

To close out the webinar, Temkin presented six trends to consider which can help shape your customer insights efforts going forward.  

1. Deep empathy, not stacks of metrics 

Data alone isn’t going to give you what you need. Getting a feel for what customers are really feeling is more important than numbers and percentages. Unstructured data (such as support tickets, customer reviews, chats, and phone calls) will help provide the anecdotal, emotional information you need to understand areas that need change.  

2. Continuous insights, not periodic studies 

Getting meaningful insights into the hands of the people that make change happen is important for success. Market research was historically run annually or biannually, not ongoing. But a good VoC program is able to put meaningful insights into the hands of the people that need to understand it on a regular basis, in real-time.  

3. Useful prescriptions, not past descriptions   

By pulling in data from different resources we can collect information that helps us understand customers. Then, we can apply predictive analytics tools so we can help others across the business identify the actions they need to take.  

4. Enterprise intelligence, not customer feedback 

Customer feedback will always exist. But going forward, customer feedback is going to play a new role. It’s often been the primary or only source of insights, but that’s changing. We now have to match data across the entire organization. It’s not just what customers are saying anymore – the data from what they are actually doing is becoming more integrated into strategy.  

5. Mobile first, not mobile responsive  

Being “mobile responsive” is simply building the same solution for a mobile device as what already exists (example: making a survey mobile friendly). “Mobile first” is leveraging the additional meta data and functionality mobile devices provide. Your customers are using their phones at almost every step along their journey with you. Not being mobile first is a real missed opportunity. 

6. Customer journeys, not isolated interactions  

We really need to understand our customers’ journey so we can understand where to optimize. The thing you should be focusing on isn’t always the obvious thing.  


Providing insights into the organization is a great start, but in order to sustain the investment of VoC and Customer Experience, you must begin to translate insights into actions. The faster you can understand the necessary actions, the better. With new technology solutions and an increasing amount of data, we’re constantly playing catch-up to remain effective and efficient.