Organizations love to use ubiquitous and outdated promotion scores and surveys, because they are the safe choice and considered to be best practice. No manager has ever gotten fired for using the same customer satisfaction tools that everyone else in his or her industry uses! The problem is that these systems do not provide actionable innovations that change the way in which consumers experience a company and its service. Promotion scores and surveys along with other old-fashioned methods can serve as data points, but nothing more.

The answer is to frontload the process of delivering exceptional customer services by improving the time and resources we invest in insights. Here are three tools any business can use to get accurate customer insights and take action to strengthen the brand.

Customer Experience Hackathons

Take customer-facing stakeholders, and go through an innovation and ideation activity, which gets them to help you build your personas of hate and love. Then you develop new experiences across all customer touchpoints that are also blended.

It’s a mistake to rely on “phoning it in” with a survey or some other out-of-the-box software solution. Customer experience insights is not a technology stack, software solution, or any other machine. Those can be useful, of course, but if you rely on those without the human connection piece, you’re really asking for trouble.

We’ve conducted hundreds of customer experience innovation hackathons, which have subsequently generated tens of millions of dollars in enterprise value. And guess what? The insights didn’t come from a fancy consultant or standard survey. They came from employees who woke up every day and served the organization.

Appropriate CX Technologies

Enabling technologies, such as most customer experience (CX) technologies, are either risk management tools, marketing tools, or reporting tools. Very few technology stacks or software solutions deliver the insights and the experience that allow leaders to master customer experience and lead their marketplace.

Technologies should always be used for good instead of evil. And by that we mean you need to use these technologies to get insights about what customers love and what they hate. You need to use technologies to increase your access to customers. It’s not just about finding ways to upsell, cross sell, and market to them, but to improve their experience.

Collaboration Is King

In too many businesses, each department or unit is an island unto itself. As a result, they know little about their customers’ experiences across every touchpoint, especially the interactions with other units.

We once worked with a large organization that manufactured equipment for restaurants. Their marketing team, salespeople, and CEO were incredible. Unfortunately, the warranty department was a disaster. Too often a loyal customer would send a piece of equipment to be repaired under warranty and have a terrible experience. The previously happy customer would immediately hate the entire company. There was really no way for the salespeople to know that, because they didn’t have the insights to find out why customers were leaving.

Every organization—large or small, profit or non-profit, B2B or B2C—must be able to look itself in the mirror and see what’s real. They must see what their customer sees, without excuses or defensiveness. And when customers complain—either in a RealRatings® survey, on social media, or even with a phone call to the manager, pay attention. For every customer who voices their displeasure, you can bet there are ten others who feel the same way but aren’t telling you.