voice of customer company-wideWho needs to hear customer feedback? Just your customer-facing staff? Only a few managers of the biggest problem areas? The correct answer is: everyone company-wide. Why: satisfied customers make payroll possible — and everyone’s decisions, attitudes, and handoffs have a ripple effect on customer experience excellence.

Sharing voice-of-the-customer (VoC) insights company-wide is relatively rare, yet those firms that do so enjoy greater business results.1 It’s rare because we underestimate employees’ interest in customer sentiment. Its’ rare due to passive or limited reporting. It’s rare thanks to narrow survey questions. And most of all, it’s rare because it’s not planned out from the get-go.

Consider this: A friend of mine just discontinued a service she’s used for years because of a new policy and a pricing change that were communicated only as she attempted to access the service itself. She felt like her content on the service was being held for ransom by pirates. Is this the fault of the customer-facing staff? No. It’s the fault of several departments behind the scenes who aren’t in-sync with client’s expected customer experience.

No department can be excused from understanding customers’ expectations. It truly takes a village to create and deliver value. All departments are jigsaw puzzle pieces that must fit together seamlessly. Everyone in the company is an essential member of the team. A mis-step by any team member can spark a chain reaction that costs a lot. “Everyone” includes suppliers, channel partners, and alliances. Each one needs to see their role within the context of customer experience excellence.

Every employee wants to work for an admired company. Customer experience is a natural motivation with richest meaning for employee engagement. And that starts with informing everyone about voice-of-the-customer on a regular basis.

Here’s how to drive voice-of-customer insights company-wide:

  1. Design customer feedback for greatest meaning to customers.
    • What are they trying to do with what they get from you?
    • What are their expectations?
    • Allow customers free range to give you feedback on whatever they want whenever they want.
    • Hint: when customers contact you they already tell you all of the above! (a goldmine you already have)
  2. Design customer feedback reports for greatest meaning to departments.
    • Time reports to be digested before annual planning or other pivotal routines.
    • Streamline reports to what each department can act upon.
    • Depict departmental data within the context of the larger processes the department supports.
    • Connect sentiment to operational events, and show the financial size at-risk or at-opportunity.
    • Don’t hold back on customer comments: it’s essential that employees read a significant number of customer comments so they really understand customers’ realities.
    • Emphasize something new each time to rally a continual thirst for customer feedback: inexhaustible curiosity.
    • Expect each department to identify root causes of their weaknesses and action plans to address the root causes; publish their plan and monitor and celebrate progress.
  3. Weave customer feedback insights into all parts of your company.
    • Make it mandatory to use customer feedback insights in annual planning and other pivotal routines.
    • Embed customer feedback insights in training, and criteria for recognition and promotions and reviews.
    • Find interesting ways to wallpaper employees’ world in digesting customers’ realities: podcasts, videos, live webinars, posters, customer reality space, shadowing, rotation, blurbs in all existing events and communications, etc.

You’re only as strong as your weakest link. Strengthen every link in the collective value chain across your company to build your customer experience mojo. Rise above common practices to become one of the rare companies that energizes every nook and cranny across the company to act in customers’ best interests — which are, of course, their best interests, too.

1 ClearAction Business-to-Business Customer Experience Management Best Practices Study, 2010-2013.

Image purchased under license from Shutterstock.

This is the third of a 3-article series explaining how to implement 3 top success factors for customer experience excellence with highest ROI.

  1. How to Get In-Tune for Customer Experience Success
  2. How to Drive Customer Experience Strategy: 5 Steps
  3. How to Drive Voice of Customer Insights Company-wide: 3 Steps