Voice of the customer programs are critical components of customer experience initiatives. Driven by companies’ need to create actionable insight out of data, VoC is an increasingly popular technique used to capture customers’ expectations, preferences and aversions that is gaining adoption in response to today’s drive to create actionable insight out of data. It has converged with business process improvement and change management to create customer experience management, or CEM, and has quickly become a key strategy to build and maintain customer loyalty.
Throughout my career I’ve created VoC and CEM programs. Along the way I’ve discovered the most successful ones have always brought the voice of the customer into the organization by using a number of these strategies.
Set a Strategy in Place
Successful CEM programs require strategic planning to secure measureable changes. Executive teams who initiate a customer experience management program have already established their commitment to the idea, typically to relieve some type of organizational pain – customer retention, acquisition, or a dramatic increase in customer complaints. Addressing this pain creates focus and support for the program.
Commitment from the Top
With a strategy designed, you need leadership to oversee it and champion a consistent experience throughout the organization. Different departments each have competing objectives, metrics and motivations, impacting the ability to best serve the customer. But, collaboration and teamwork are essential to deliver consistent customer experience.
The most effective customer experience teams work with employees to see the processes from the outside in – putting themselves in the customer’s shoes and empowering them to investigate issues, and propose and implement changes. In these cases, the customer experience team serves as a facilitator, sharing customer insights to uncover the root cause and develop the right solutions.
The Wealth of the Customer Voice
In today’s digital world, unstructured feedback is abundant. Customers communicate in many ways and expect their feedback to result in improved customer service with each interaction. The combination of channels provide a complete understanding of customers and can include everything from surveys, contact centers, online communities and panels to customer councils, advisory groups, online review, and speech analytics. Since every source of customer information is critical to leveraging the customer voice, consider designing customer experience programs by extracting that information from individual silos and converting it into actionable insights.
Take Charge of the Feedback Loop
One common challenge for organizations running a VoC program is that very few of them actually coordinate the feedback processes across the larger organization, missing opportunities to improve the quality and actionability of the customer voice. While it isn’t always treated as such, feedback is an asset. Standardizing on an enterprise feedback management solution is a method for organizations to consider. Not only can an organization use the platform to coordinate activities across different departments and functions, a common platform enables users to capture data within customer-centric guidelines and branding standards. It also eliminates redundant costs.
Transparency is Key
Frontline employees should see specific feedback about their interactions to help understand their impact on customers and enable the creation of programs that allow them to improve exchanges over time. When sharing VoC data, an organization should tailor it for the viewer. In addition, dashboard reports should be shared with executives to demonstrate high-level trends and other critical details.
A basic rule of customer feedback is not to ask a question if you’re not going to act on the answer. By using feedback effectively, customer experience professionals are able to spot trends because of their cross-silo views.
Following these best practice guidelines, VoC programs can become part of an effective CEM strategy to help collect and act on customer feedback across channels to improve brand loyalty and financial performance by addressing specifically what customers are saying. Effective change can also occur by incorporating VoC data into planning processes. Everyone wants to make customer-driven decisions, and that requires customer feedback. By involving the customer voice early on, the culture becomes more focused on doing it right the first time than using ad-hoc find and fix methods of improvement.
Edited by Stefania Viscusi