First published in Marketing Mag: https://goo.gl/OaUDEe
In this article, author Alex Allwood outlines the 5 pillars of designing a successful Voice of Customer (VoC) program in her seventh article based on her book, Customer Experience is the Brand.
Welcome to the era of the customer; where what your customer experiences impacts their current purchasing decisions, their future purchasing decisions and the purchasing decisions of their friends and peers too.
To attract, win and retain customers, leading customer experience brands such as Google, Amazon, Apple and Facebook are using their customer intelligence to continuously innovate their products, services, processes and touchpoints to deliver emotionally rewarding customer experiences.
There are however, many companies that are customer complacent. Content to exist in a cone of silence, they are missing this era’s greatest competitive advantage – creating experiences their customers want to continue to experience and then recommend to their friends and family.
These companies claim they are customer-focused. Some collect only anecdotal feedback or transactional data; others collect customer feedback in an annual survey, and many more, are hit and miss in their efforts.
Simply put, listening to their customers and improving common customer frustrations and problems is not a priority for their business. Either way, these companies haven’t prioritised investment into a structured program that informs continuous change.
Progressive brands have designed a Voice of Customer (VoC) program to capture in-depth understanding of customer needs, preferences and behaviours, which are used to continuously improve customer interactions across the business.
Importantly, a VoC program provides an understanding of how the company can address and manage painpoints and gaps in the customer journey; from the customer point-of-view rather than the business perspective.
There are many types of customer data sources in many different channels. From structured feedback measuring satisfaction, recommendation and effort using surveys through SMS, email, web and telephone, to unstructured customer feedback through social media channels, customer service and customer complaints.
A VoC program can be undertaken manually or through utilising technology. Research methods include one-on-one interviews, focus groups and observational research, however these research methods aren’t scaleable.
An alternative method is to automate the VoC process to enable continuous collection and analysis of customer feedback. For this reason VoC platforms are increasing in popularity.
There are 5 pillars in designing a VoC program that will ensure a programs success:
Audit: In larger companies capturing customer data is usually siloed and duplicated, leading to inefficiencies. An audit is import to understand the state of play across the entire business, highlight gaps, streamline processes and optimise investments.
Goal: A well-planned VoC program will have an overarching strategy that’s designed to capture a single customer view, rather than tactical, siloed programs. Defining the reason, role and objectives of the VoC program in relation to the company’s overall commercial goals expresses the value the program will provide.
Measure: Customer Journey Mapping is an early stage activity and provides a clear end-to-end view of how customers interact with the company at each stage in their journey. Mapping also helps people in the business take ownership for the work that needs to be undertaken. The program will likely use a metric such as customer satisfaction score, effort score or Net Promotor Score (NPS) to measure customer feedback across the journey.
Embedding: Customer experience is a whole of business approach. Cultural engagement of customer-first is central to the successful adoption of the measurement program that ultimately leads to internal mindset of continuous improvement. Employees require education and support on why the program is important and what is expected of them in their day-to-day responsibilities. Importantly, the business needs to shift from working on customer problems by silos to centralised action, where all divisions are unified in implementing change to solve customer problems.
Action: A well-designed program enables continuous feedback for resolutions and actions in response to problems. As the program matures and the quick-wins diminish the challenge is establishing the process for closing the loop with customers. Initially, this will be taking immediate actions to customer problems and evolve to identifying and solving causes in a process of continuous innovation.
As more companies place higher value on collecting, analysing and acting on customer feedback, customers are increasingly being requested to participate in more and more surveys. Coupled with surveys that ask too many questions and take too long to complete, this can lead to survey response fatigue, which negatively impacts response rates.
Leading customer-centric companies are overcoming the issue by incorporating text and voice analytics into mining unsolicited customer feedback. This type of feedback is found on a company’s social media pages, email complaints, phone, product reviews and calls to customer service.
Commonly known as unstructured data, this information provides brands with real-time data on what on customers are experiencing in the moment. Technology of text and voice analytics can mine these large sets of unstructured data, either separately or together, to provide powerful up-to-the-minute insights on customer preferences, questions and problems.
For businesses still existing in a cone of silence, it’s time to get smart and leverage the voice of your customer; to systematically collect, analyse and act on customer feedback to improve the customer experience.