5 essential tips to bring your Voice of the Customer programme to life
Updated: Jan 27
At the end of 2019, Forrester predicted that in 2020, “organizations will either learn to leverage customer insights and quantify the business impact of CX initiatives or find themselves in a vulnerable position.” Now you might be thinking, forecasts about 2020? but Forrester, as usual, was spot on about CX. Customer Experience continues to prove to be a competitive advantage in every industry, from banking and insurance to healthcare, telecom, and retail.
We have conducted a series of research at EXCO to understand the economic, socio-economic and personal impacts of COVID19 in Trinidad and Tobago. Part of the conversation asked respondents to share the impact of COVID19 on their buying behavior. The results, unsurprisingly were aligned to global findings; increased concerns for savings (34%), 70% of respondents being financially impacted and a rise in mental health concerns (10%).
We all ‘know’ behaviour has changed, after all – hasn’t ours? But can you quantify (or even put into words) the change itself? How many of us are actually measuring, tracking, understanding and taking note of the impact of this change on our customers?
I keep happening upon articles or comments that claim “surveys are dead”. I get it, if you are one of the lucky few that are advanced in the BIG DATA and A.I space where we can actually predict experiences, churn and even customer emotions based on integration of multiple IT stacks, operational KPI’s and insights from customer feedback, then yes – your need for traditional CX ‘surveys’ would be less now than a few years ago. However, I have real concerns about such broad statements and where I sit, surveys are not dead, they simply need to evolve.
Firstly, it is no longer about surveys, it is about conversations with people; real people, real time. In today’s wildly changing and less ‘personal’ environment, it is essential to have some insights into people's ACTUAL experiences, not what traditional KPI’s tell us or what our internal teams (or worse or gut instincts) perceive them to be.
Second, when done right, feedback is a critical and often missed element of Customer Journeys. We used a ‘survey’ to confirm the impact of COVID19 on the Customer Journey. So now, how do we develop, prioritize and execute strategies that align with the specific touchpoints in said journeys? Voice of the Customer (VoC) data and the insights we garner from same removes the guesswork when it comes to understanding customer goals, expectations, pain points, and related ideas and creates total visibility into the end – end journey all the while allowing us to measure and manage from an internal perspective.
Finally, success is more than just the bottom line, the bottom line is the end result. A key indicator of the health of your business is measured by your customers and their related experiences. How many businesses have we seen finding themselves in trouble because of negative reviews or viral complaints? Customer Centric businesses use VoC programmes to reach out and communicate with their customers and track the experience they are having across multiple interactions. This feedback can be used to confirm (or deny) that your strategy is working, it is not just what you are doing wrong, but what you’re doing right.
Information is power! With the right knowledge, employees – both front and backstage can deliver extraordinary and personalized experiences. Customer-facing staff, those delivering the experiences, will have direct access to feedback from customers that they interacted with, and management is empowered with insights for training, and metrics for reward and recognition programmes. Back-office teams, those designing or enabling the experiences are empowered with real data to know their customers a little better ensuring more successful product launches, iterations, and ultimately uptake.
Bring life to your Voice of the Customer Programme
Outside - In: Start with your customer in mind and ensure that they know about your VoC programme, awareness will directly drive your response rates and engagement. Invest in a platform that makes it easy for customers to give feedback and allows you to proactively reach out to collect feedback in a manner and time that is convenient to them. Additionally, identify where feedback already exists and capitalize on it, your customers do not want to (read: will not) take the time to give you the same feedback twice.
Inflection points: Identify moments that matter in your customer's journey, we have all had defining moments with a company or brand that shaped our perception of them. As a team, identify these in your business and start here.
Keep it simple: When designing your VoC programme and related questions, make it easy for your customer to understand what you are asking, to help them respond better. Equally important, make it easy for your team to analyze, track and trend. A combination of multiple choice (with scales) and open-ended works best; in my opinion keep the open ended to the end of the survey, your responder will tell you about the most impactful moment in their experience.
Metrics that matter: Not all metrics are created equal. Depending on the touchpoint or interaction you will want to measure differently. My three go to’s are:
Customer Satisfaction: CSAT scores are a great way to measure not only your products and services but can provide simple and direct insights on the performance of your team, regardless of the products or services they are providing support for.
Customer Effort: It is more important now, than ever that we make things as simple as possible. Effort is a leading indicator of customer loyalty, "customers are four times more likely to become disloyal to a brand after a difficult customer service experience." (Gartner, 2019)
Net Promoter Score: NPS is simple, easy to compare, and ideally acts as a measure of brand performance (rather than as feedback on an individual transaction). More importantly, NPS allows you to find your most loyal customers and use them as the model of who to build your products for and your most unhappy and resolve their issues PRIOR to churning.
5. Close the loop: There is no quicker route to failure than doing nothing with the feedback your customers share. Ensure you have resource(s) in place and that are accountable for contacting customers who share complaints in their responses; “Customers overwhelmingly agreed (83%) that they feel more loyal to brands that respond and resolve their complaints.” (Khoros, 2021). Of equal importance, ensure ownership of sharing said feedback with the business, analyzing and leveraging information gathered in order to improve the overall customer experience.
Data & Analytics is by far my favorite part about what we do at EXCO, if I had to choose an ‘ingredient’ to focus on and push engagement it is ALWAYS here. Customer Experience is often misinterpreted or labeled as soft, when it is, at its core a fact-based field. Customer Experience metrics, data and their related insights are paramount to forming a picture (or part thereof) of your customer’s preferences and ever-changing behavior to guide you to make more informed decisions.