Listening to customers holds a value that is fully measurable and can provide immediate direction on how a company can advance retention rates and lower operational costs. Actively listening to the needs of customers isn’t optional – it is mandatory if your objective is to improve the customer experience and your company’s market position.
The customer experience “lives” entirely in customers’ minds – and human response typically provokes more emotional engagement. The value of any brand is inherent in what the audience is saying about it. Creating a systematic way to listen to the digital voice of the customer (VOC) is the only way to truly monitor sentiment and perception trends over time. This applies to B2B, B2C, and B2G companies.
While it may seem to be an obvious point that businesses should listen to their end-users, most private equity groups, and by extension, many of their portfolio holdings, lack the necessary methods and tools for this essential practice. Today’s VOC is over-amplified through the excess of mobility options, social channels and feedback/review sites.
Ignoring this abundance of direct customer dialog can result in damaging implications for a business’ brand, products, or services.
Marketplace data is much more instructive than financial data, and yet the PE community has yet to embrace this measurable knowledge as a standard in both due diligence and ongoing portfolio assessment. I’ve consciously explored why this is the case within private equity ownership, and in most instances, the reason is as fundamental as not knowing what to listen for and how to measure that dialog effectively.
This information can be readily accessed, analyzed, and made actionable in a short window of time.
Organizations do get caught-up in data-paralysis— over-analyzing every infinitesimal data point available with no consideration for relevance. However, with the evolution of e-Listening and data-aggregation tools, monitoring the VOC has become much more efficient and effective than ever before.
There are several outstanding metrics available to evaluate marketplace perception, sentiment, and share of voice. Yet, I advise our private equity clients to initially focus on only six-primary metrics to fully understand the marketplace performance of their portfolio holdings.
- BRAND PRESENCE: The volume of brand awareness and amplification measured through mentions, reach, and share of voice. These metrics can include likes, shares, followers/friends, tweets/retweets, replies, sentiment, and share of search (organic).
- MESSAGE INFLUENCE SCORE (MIS): Any message that is intended to shape, reinforce, or change the responses of others. This score measures the value of the message sent out by the brand.
- SOURCE INFLUENCE SCORE (SIS): The value and trust of a message being sent by a brand to the audience. The SIS will identify channels where the brand message will be best received.
- NET PROMOTER SCORE (NPS): The metric that measures if someone is willing to personally vouch for a product or service to a friend, family member or colleague. It measures satisfaction and user loyalty by the user’s willingness to refer to a friend.
- OVERALL SATISFACTION (OSAT): The primary metric to gauge a customer’s overall satisfaction with a company, business or organization.
- QUALITY OF PRODUCT/SERVICE (QPS): This measures the end user’s sentiment towards a business’ product or service.
Understanding these six-primary metrics enables portfolio managers to have more in-depth assessments of business implications across the marketplace. By trending these metrics over time, business leaders can monitor key trends and performance standards while benchmarking the competition.
The resulting substantive market intelligence can work as a key ingredient within the due-diligence mix as private equity groups determine strategic buys – as well as optimum times to sell. Over the next several weeks, I’ll be unpacking the six-primary metrics that private equity should understand and track to maximize their investments. This is how to separate the wheat from the chaff in the abundant field of marketplace data.
George Assimakopoulos is the Founder and Principal Manager of Metric Centric, an advisory practice that helps private equity firms better understand the marketplace for their portfolio companies through the analysis of key market intelligence. He is a successful serial entrepreneur who is passionate about content marketing, lead generation, and leveraging data for business growth.