Over recent years, customer experience has taken great precedence. With customers demanding more authentic, real-time, tailored experiences, it’s no longer sufficient for businesses to hand over any product or service without incorporating the customer into each and every aspect.
With a new set of customer expectations, listening to the voice of the customer has emerged as the tried and true way for businesses to remain competitive and flourish. Which is why, in this article, we’re taking a deep dive into the voice of the customer best practices and how you can build a program to both drive customer loyalty and maximize revenue.
Definition of The Voice of The Customer
According to The Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the voice of the customer (VoC) is the “process for capturing customers’ requirements [and producing] a detailed set of customer wants and needs that are organized into a hierarchical structure, and then prioritized in terms of relative importance and satisfaction with current alternatives.” For many industries, it’s a highly effective method to tune into customer sentiment and understand exactly what they want, what they need, and their preferences when it comes to product, service and price.
Although obtaining the voice of the customer may seem as simple as asking customers what they want, it’s a much more complex process. For most customers, being blunt and honest can be intimidating or, depending on how you ask, it can be uncomfortable. Which means in order to obtain the most unbiased and useful data from your customers, you need a degree of quantitative and qualitative research.
Designing An Effective VoC
When designing a voice of the customer strategy, there are many components to consider. Things, like building a strategy, choosing your listening tools and tips to getting employees engaged, are all parts of a VoC program to reflect on. Here, in order to ease your design process, we’ve outlined the most necessary elements in a VoC program.
A Clear Objective
A goal is the backbone of any successful business venture. It aligns team members, creates a unified objective, and provides visibility for stakeholders. Before designing your VoC program, coming up with a clear goal is a necessity.
To begin, your goal should reflect what you are looking to gain from your customers and how you plan to use their insight to enhance the experience. Keep in mind some of the biggest struggles you want to overcome and why, while also considering the interests of stakeholders. Your goal should pass through the eyes of many team members before you solidify it.
If you’re still struggling to determine a definitive goal, check out this article for a step by step process.
Buy-In From Stakeholders
Regardless of the type of initiative you’re starting, high-level buy-in is crucial to ensure it takes off and actually makes an impact on both the customer and your employees. Before presenting your program, make sure you have a goal and strategy in place, in addition to any analytical data to help support your case for a VoC program.
A Durable and Detailed Strategy
To support tactical execution, building a durable strategy can ensure the proper precautions are taken and teams are taking the most efficient and cost-effective steps to achieve your VoC goal. When designing your strategy, start with the basics like who your target audience is, your overall goal, and who is going to be involved in making the program possible. Once you’ve covered the basics you can then move onto other key elements of a VoC program such as:
- Channels of customer engagement (Ex. Facebook Messenger, Phone, SMS Text, One-on-one interviews)
- Survey question types (Ex. CSAT, NPS, Qualitative, Quantitative, etc.)
- Technology solutions (Ex.CEM, CRM, Messaging Platforms etc.)
- Team training
By outlining each element of your strategy in detail, you reduce the consequence of error and strengthen your efforts to achieve your desired goal.
In order for a VoC program to work, your team should be fully invested in it and your proposed strategy, in addition, they should be trained on the execution of surveys and best practices when dealing with customers. A more engaged team means you increase the long-term success of your program and you increase the overall customer experience.
As a suggestion, once you’ve implemented the program and informed your employees, hold weekly or monthly check-ins to see how your employees are doing and where improvement is needed.
Consistent Analysis and Implementation
Once you’ve built your strategy, defined your goal, got executive buy-in and trained your employees, it’s time for implementation. This means making sure your tools are in place, you’re prompting customers for feedback and you’re analyzing their responses.
In order for the program to work, you’ll need to consistently interact with customers, analyze their responses and implement any suggestions when necessary. For the customer, they can easily recognize when their opinions are being heard and when they are being ignored, and ignoring them can be a major swaying factor in their buying decisions.
With that said, building a VoC program takes time, so it’s important to stay consistent with analyzing customer insight, discovering new trends, learning from mistakes and using the feedback received to your advantage. By being consistent with aspects of your program you inch closer toward your objective.
Best Practices of A Successful VoC
Incorporate Multiple Channels
In a recent study by Harvard Business Review, it was proven that “73% of consumers shop on more than one channel.” Today, the incorporation of omni-channel isn’t just a nice to have but a need to have.
When listening to your customer base, the more feedback the better – with multiple channels, you increase your reach as a business and you increase response rates by being on the customers preferred channel. Not to mention, you avoid segmenting audiences and missing out on key data that could potentially propel your business in the long run.
When deciding on your channels, we urge you to look at current customer communication trends. Options like Facebook Messenger, on-site kiosks, Text SMS, WhatsApp and Twitter DM are great places to start.
Provide A Variety of Questions
When creating your VoC survey, keep in mind the types of answers you’re looking to receive. If you’re looking for insight into your product or service, a CSAT survey might be best suited for your organization. If you’re looking to receive insight on the likelihood of your customers suggesting your establishment, an NPS survey might be best for you.
From our experience in the customer experience sphere, providing a variety of questions like NPS and CSAT in addition to some more qualitative questions, can give you a more holistic view of the voice of the customer.
Running various aspects of your voice of the customer program while managing a range of customers from multiple channels can be daunting without the aid of technology.
For the most favourable results from your VoC program, and to avoid getting overwhelmed, a Customer Experience Management solution should be a top consideration. An ideal solution will provide you instant messaging options from a single inbox, the metrics to gauge current customer sentiment, and visibility into current and upcoming trends. All features that can take your voice of the customer program to the next level.
Branching off from our last best practice, auto-escalation incorporated into your tech solution is the key to optimizing your customer retention rates and ensuring each customer concern is heard and addressed.
With an ideal VoC tech solution, all customer inquiries are tagged and directed to the correct departments. What’s more, if a message is being read as having “negative sentiment” an ideal tool will be able to understand and escalate it to management in real time so they can be recovered instantly. In a program that is defined by putting the customer first, auto-escalation can make sure that all customers are heard and suggestions are acted on.
Allow Teams To Cross Collaborate
With insights derived from customers, it’s important that all teams understand the sentiment and can collaborate on ways to elevate the experience. With cross-collaboration efforts like group messaging, employees are always in the know and cognizant of how customers are feeling about their service. What’s more, it’ll help teams do better if a customer expresses that they aren’t having a great experience or if management brings up consistent issues.
To ensure your teams are cross collaborating, a customer experience management solution is an ideal piece of technology with little uplift and a streamlined experience.
Regardless of how you decide to plan and execute your voice of customer program, having an exceptional customer experience should be your number one priority. Keeping that in mind and having a program that touches on all the best practices previously mentioned, you open up many avenues for greater customer retention, strengthened loyalty and opportunities to maximize revenue.