Voice-of-the-Customer is central to most customer experience strategies. Of course, the idea is to find out what the customer thinks and increase the number of customer voices in favor of your brand. Typically, the excitement of hearing from the customer is usually high, at least the first couple of rounds. Then, trends are established and one of four things happens:
a) The trend is in the “safe” zone, so everyone breathes a sigh of relief. Business-as-usual prevails.
b) The trend is in the “danger” zone, so someone strives to fix it.
c) Someone attempts to figure out how to link the trend with revenue.
d) Executives decide they’re not getting enough value and abandon further investment in voice of the customer or customer experience management.
Let’s take a look at what’s causing this conundrum, and what will solve it.
Voice of the Customer ROI Roadblocks
A) Listening Overload:
Over time, voice of the customer (VoC) managers find themselves measuring more listening posts (surveys for various types of interactions the customer has with the company) and wondering how to get more people in the company engaged in caring about and acting on the customer feedback insights. Furthermore, those assigned to study VoC and revenue sometimes find compelling linkages, and otherwise find themselves between a rock and a hard place.
B) Maxed Out Managers:
In most companies, voice of the customer management has taken on a life of its own, and it’s all-consuming. By the way, VoC includes online/phone questionnaires, journey map research, advisory boards, communities, focus groups, ethnography, etc. Ironically, while enterprise feedback management (EFM) systems promised to free-up so much time, instead, they fully consume managers’ bandwidth with real-time VoC dashboards. This means they spend the majority of their time reaching out to negative raters and converting individual customers to brand evangelizers. This is narrow: only a percentage of customers participate in VoC. Then, only a percentage of customers give negative ratings. Hence, the majority of VoC effort is on a fraction of customers rewarding your business with more favorable behaviors.
C) Dwindling Confidence:
With all of this preoccupation, voice of the customer managers admit that they do not yet think-out how they can get more mileage from the VoC investment. Yet, they know there’s a lot of potential. They sense untapped value of customers’ chronic concerns. Surprisingly, Forrester’s State of Customer Experience Study revealed that while 90% of executives sensed the importance of customer experience management, 86% of them did not expect to see business results from it.
Voice of the Customer Wisdom
Here’s new wisdom for voice of the customer best practices — and for your overall customer experience strategy.
1) Shift to Actionability:
Luckily, it’s not too late to change: shift your attention to actionability plans.
The business value is much higher for the New Wisdom approach (see table below). The Traditional Approach to voice of the customer requires a constant treadmill of resources. Moreover, it does not provide sufficient actionable or compelling insights to move the needle. Thankfully, if we adopt the New Wisdom approach, we will certainly see an increase in the percentage of executives with faith for strong business results from customer experience management.
2) Divert Funds from Fixes to Value-Creation
The VoC New Wisdom approach allows your company to prevent recurrence of issues for your entire customer base. At the same time, it enlightens your entire employee base to better anticipate customer expectations and reactions. As a result, funds tied up eternally in broken things may instead be diverted to new-value opportunities that are in-sync with customers.
3) Think Big
Start your new year with a comprehensive voice of the customer actionability plan. Beware: this is not aimed at those critical few groups who are culprits of the worst survey scores. And, this is not aimed at one-by-one fixes. Conversely, a fully thought-out actionability plan engages every work group across the company to proactively manage their CX ripple effect. This includes workshops, change management, and collaboration. This is an important step toward outside-in influence that’s better than skin-deep. Additionally, it’s a key toward true customer-centricity. It’s vital to growth-building customer experience transformation.
- Make your VoC actionability plan horizontal (cross-functional) and systematic (not optional). For instance, establish a cadence to review customer comments in cross-organizational workshops. Equally important, setup a cadence for action plan follow-through. Communicate progress to your entire customer base. This makes it everyone’s goal to prevent recurrence of customer hassles.
- To support your actionability plan, modify your VoC methodology. First, shift from the list of questions about your company to a list of questions about the customer’s expectations. Next, omit questions about things you already know. Finally, include questions about moments of truth and things that can shape how you run your business (aka “rituals”). “Business rituals include planning, hiring, promotion, policies and processes. Rituals are what you do that’s not specifically about designing, creating, promoting, and delivering your customer solutions.
4) Revise Your Customer Experience Team
- It is better to invest in customer experience improvement facilitators to oversee the new wisdom process, rather than find more places to monitor VoC. The VoC New Wisdom process builds customer experience ownership among employees across the company. Accordingly, it weaves voice of the customer actions into their daily work. It also weaves VoC insights into the company’s fabric: how people work together and make decisions.
- Effective customer experience facilitators are well-versed in the basics of market research, change management, quality improvement techniques, and facilitation skills. This way they have what’s needed to guide business unit champions in each product line, region and major account team, and support function.
- A crew of three or four facilitators is sufficient for most companies. The CX facilitators drive internal branding of customer experience excellence, in addition to interfacing with the business units. This includes embedding VOC insights into criteria for hiring, reviews, approvals, promotion, processes and policies across the company.
- In addition to their main job role, business unit champions manage customer experience insights and improvement within their business unit.
- Ideally, the C-team sees themselves as part of the CXM team, with each of them actively contributing to CX goals.
Voice of the Customer ROI
Actionability and action are the watchwords for new wisdom in voice of the customer and customer experience management. For superior results, make the needed shifts now to get on a profitable growth track with the VoC New Wisdom approach.
Photo licensed to ClearAction Continuum from Shutterstock.