To compete on customer experience organisations need to understand the type of experiences they are currently creating. To gain greater understanding of how customers view the experiences companies provide, Voice of the Customer (VoC) programs have become increasingly popular. Yet few organisations are able to use the insights gleaned to drive improvements.
How many truly listen?
Most companies will say they listen to their customers. That may be true, to varying degrees, but how many actually act and make decisions based on what their customers think is another matter. As noted in a CMO article published last year, marketing decision-makers use data just 11% of the time to make decisions that impact customers.
Jason Mallia, Australian Country Manager for Confirmit, comments, “We see a real mix in approaches to VOC currently in the marketplace depending on budget and the nature of the business the organisation runs. There is an increasing awareness amongst company leaders of the importance listening to the customer plays in the success of their business. But many do struggle to understand the benefits of the actions taken as a result of customer feedback.”
Some organisations find acting on or making decisions based on customer feedback and surveys, a challenge. Mallia advises, “A successful strategy for a number of companies has been to make small and incremental changes that are manageable and the impact of which can be measured. And over time build a culture that focuses on creating exceptional experiences for customers”.
Why VoC is becoming more and more popular
Research from the Aberdeen Group highlights how companies that get VoC right experience 10 times greater year-over-year increase in annual company revenue compared to those that don’t. VoC can greatly improve service and communication levels thereby exceeding customer expectations. This in turn impacts loyalty to the brand.
Staying in touch and listening to your customers can help identify emerging trends and guide the future development of products and services. Understanding exactly what products customers want and how much they are willing to pay can drive significant growth for an organisation.
Delivering real benefits to the business
VoC has become increasingly important for CEOs who want to drive exceptional customer experiences. “Executive support and commitment is essential for a successful VoC program”, says Jason Mallia. “Someone at a senior level needs to drive involvement from every relevant stakeholder within the organisation to ensure multi-channel feedback from all customer touchpoints.”
“Feedback and customer data needs to be received via all channels across the organisation. It then needs to be integrated, analysed and distributed to the relevant job roles in the different departments so the relevant action can happen.”
The purpose of any customer survey or feedback exercise must be to identify issues and areas of improvement and drive the necessary changes. Questions where the organisation already knows the answer or simply validate existing company behaviours, offer minimal value. Malia advises, “For survey or feedback questions to provide real benefits they must connect with real business goals and outcomes. Unfortunately, so many programs are disconnected “tick-the-box” exercises that fail to deliver any real value.”
VoC is still an emerging area for most organisations. As it grows and matures and companies become familiar with the necessary tools and techniques to do it effectively, significant opportunities for improvement will emerge. Mallia comments, “We are witnessing greater capabilities being developed to process and analyse unstructured data to reveal what customers are truly thinking beyond giving a score out of 5 on how satisfied they are or how likely they are to recommend the business.”
Mallia adds, “You need to be able to centralise and integrate data (structured and unstructured) that drives actionable insights. It’s about asking the right question from the right customer at the right time and avoid questions or surveys you already know the answer to. The insights you garner need to instigate workflows that make improvements which can then be measured.”
To be a leader in customer experience requires a comprehensive “outside-in” view of your organisation combined with a deep understanding of your customers and how it connects to your business objectives. Truly listening to your customers is the only way to systematically deliver a better customer experience.