Claire Sporton, VP of CX, Confirmit: Tips for Voice of the Customer tool buyers

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Download the MyCustomer guide to Voice of the Customer for more practical advice on VoC tools, strategies and tactics. 

In the latest in our series of articles where IT leaders provide their take on the purchasing process, Claire Sporton, vice president of customer experience management at Confirmit, shares her tips for those looking to buy Voice of the Customer solutions. 

MyC. What do practitioners need to consider before they start looking for Voice of the Customer tools, to determine their requirements?

CS. It’s important to establish what it is that the business is trying to achieve by implementing a VoC programme. This needs to be tied in with overall business objectives. It can’t just be about finding out an NPS score, for example. There needs to be a clear vision, backed up by specific goals in order to establish the scope, and to ensure you know what success looks like. This helps to clearly define and design a programme so you can plan which customer touchpoints you want to address and which channels you need to use to do so (web, mobile device, telephone, etc.). Companies should also look at how they will follow up and take action on customer feedback in order to impact those business objectives. 

MyC. What kinds of questions should they ask themselves?

CS. Questions should include:

  • What key business objectives are we trying to impact with our programme?
  • Which customer touchpoints provide key moments of truth, and what’s the best way to capture the Voice of the Customer at these touchpoints?
  • How do we need to disseminate insight data across the business?
  • What other business data (CRM, ERP, etc.) do we need to pull into our programme to provide a holistic customer view?
  • How will we follow up with customers who provide feedback to close the loop and drive action?

MyC. How can buyers convince the CFO that investment in this kind of tool is a wise decision? How can you get buy-in?

CS. This is vital and there’s no way to get CFO buy-in with fluffy visions of simply “being customer-centric”. It’s daunting, but CX practitioners need to commit to return on investment. This means identify an ROI model that works for you, and showing the executive team the numbers that clearly demonstrate the results that the programme can deliver. You need to link your programme directly to key business priorities and demonstrate how your programme can deliver success. For example, if you were to reduce churn rate by only 10% by following up with unhappy customers and resolving their issues, you could increase revenue by £500K p.a. If we then also targeted our promoters to refer a friend - even with only a 1% success rate - the programme could push revenue up by nearly a £1M.

It’s daunting to commit to real numbers, but it’s vital to be taken seriously, and you can mitigate the risk by ensuring a realistic roll-out process that enables you to start small, create a few quick wins and move onto the next state when you’re ready.

MyC. Are there any particular challenges in the Voice of the Customer tool market that buyers need to be aware of? What types of different tools fit within this category?

CS. There is now a huge range of technologies that broadly fit within the VoC space, and understanding which is right for your business can be tricky. There are very basic survey tools which enable you to set up surveys quickly, but have limited options when it comes to reporting and taking action. And there are some very sexy dashboard providers into which you can pull your data into attractive online reports. The challenge is to understand which solutions actually deliver the value you’re looking for. It’s easy to get bowled over by a lovely dashboard, but it needs to tell the right people, the right information, and enable them to take action on what they see. In addition, using a range of very focused or niche tools can make ongoing management a challenge, as different products make changes over time.

In most cases, VoC programmes start small and then build up over time, so ensure your provider is able to grow with you.

There are also tools that take Voice of the Customer beyond the traditional, structured survey approach, and allow businesses to look at the wider market by analysing social media to understand customer and market sentiment. At the moment this may seem to be on the fringes of VoC, but it’s a growing area and one to consider seriously to keep you ahead of the game.

There are also more comprehensive platforms that cover the full range from data collection to analysis, reporting and action management. This will suit many businesses, as it can keep things simpler, but it’s important to ensure that such platforms are innovating in the right areas and in a way that will put new capabilities in your hands quickly. 

MyC. Once practitioners are at the solution selection stage, what advice can you share to help buyers find the most appropriate vendor and tool for their needs?

CS. It’s important to establish how much help you need from your provider. Do you want to run the whole programme yourself, in which case a technology-only, self-service approach will work, or do you need some help with consulting and methodology? It’s important to understand what your options are with each provider as some will require you to use their consulting services to make any changes to your programme once it is up and running. It’s useful to ensure that you have the ability to call on your vendor’s experts when you need them, but to have the flexibility to manage the programme in-house when you need to.

It’s wise to keep an eye on the future as well. In most cases, VoC programmes start small and then build up over time, so ensure your provider is able to grow with you. A seemingly low-cost option may work well for the first year or so, if your needs are simple, but that might restrict your ability to expand, for example, into new channels when you’re ready to. This leaves the unpalatable choice of limiting the value of your programme, or starting from scratch with a new vendor. 

Download the MyCustomer guide to Voice of the Customer for more practical advice on VoC tools, strategies and tactics. 

Neil Davey
Managing editor
MyCustomer.com
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