Lackluster voice-of-the-customer (VoC) is a common dilemma. Customer surveys that seemed so exciting initially get a ho-hum reaction when average ratings are stagnant. Employee engagement that you hoped to spur in customer experience management goes by the wayside when it looks like the company’s standing with customers is hunky-dory (satisfactory).
Sometimes the impetus for VoC was to reassure everyone that customers like the status quo. Or to get a customer report card that lets people get their bonus payout. Sometimes VoC was initiated to help marketing and sales with proof that customers are happy — a pubic relations initiative. However, if you’re hoping to reap greater ROI (return on investment) from your customer intelligence — and possibly differentiate customer experience, lackluster VoC can be solved in several ways:
- Shift from averages to percentages: seeing responses as different sized pools of customers makes the data more meaningful.
- Group percentages differently: add insights by looking at top-box and bottom-box customer groups with “x” characteristics vs. “y” characteristics, etc.
- Focus more on customer comments: comments are “pure” inputs (not biased by your company’s phrasing) and add more meaning to the numbers; comments are an under-utilized gold mine for stimulating and directing customer experience differentiation.
- Cut the data so that each part of your company sees what they can impact — this really piques interest.
- Require each part of the company to identify root causes and create action plans: helps managers pay attention to ongoing VoC reports as confirmations that they’re on the right track and/or opportunities to see a bit more of the issue or tweak their analysis and action plans.
- Collect VoC only as often as your company can “move the needle”: prevent fatigue for both managers and customers.
- Communicate to customers at-large: tell them what you’re working on and what you can’t work on; this can help manage expectations (i.e. closing the loop on a macro level).
- Challenge managers to apply VoC to as many processes and rituals in the company as possible: this is also a good way to make your company more customer-centered and to see what needs to be adjusted in your VoC methodology.
- Expect to transform the company: be bold in encouraging cross-functional tackling of issues that affect customer experience, even for the big things that initially seem like there’s nothing that can be done: inject creativity into customer experience innovation.
- Find new ways to share customer comment themes: keep VoC interesting, e.g. mini-webcasts exploring the theme, monthly live online interview of a customer, etc.
- Focus attention on metrics that depict action plan progress: focusing on action plan progress can be more powerful than focusing attention on the VoC metrics per se; VoC is a lagging indicator because it reflects what your stakeholders already know; improvement action plan metrics are leading indicators because they reflect what your stakeholders will soon see.
- Link lagging and leading indicators in a vertical dashboard: empower employees regarding the progress being made and help them see how everything is connected.
Inspire voice of the customer actions by making customer feedback inspiring. Relevance and resonance are the keys to motivating behavior. Two of the success factors for customer experience ROI are: presenting customer feedback to all employees and expecting action on customer feedback by owners of key drivers of customer experience. Make sure what’s being presented is directly applicable to each employee/executive group (relevance). Make sure there’s a compelling tie-in of customer feedback to something important to each employee/executive group, such as a corporate initiative or company value (resonance).
It’s like watching the scales to monitor my weight over time. It’s really only useful if I get up and take action. That’s where the value to my health occurs. With voice of the customer, don’t get stuck watching the numbers. Make it compelling to take action. That’s where the value to your business results occurs.
By the way, these ideas were generated within a few minutes by Lynn Hunsaker as a response to a question by a member of the Customer Experience Professionals Association. Lynn is one of ten members of the CXPA’s Customer Experience Experts panel, fielding questions from members. Answers are posted on the the CXPA site for all members’ benefit.