How to map your path to Voice of the Customer maturity

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Claire Sporton
VP, Customer Experience Management, Confirmit
Confirmit
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A well-designed and executed Voice of the Customer programme is at the heart of any customer experience endeavour. But a VoC programme does not simply appear, fully-formed at the heart of any organisation, no matter how well planned it is.

A VoC programme operates at multiple levels; tactical and strategic; leadership and front line; financial and operational. And at any given time, all these – and other – elements are progressing at slightly different speeds and with slightly different trajectories. Understanding where you are with each element is invaluable in helping you to plan next steps for evolving your programme to ensure you continue to drive business value and keep your key stakeholders on board for the long haul.

Five facets of maturity

It’s useful to think of your programme as having five facets of maturity. They may all be at a similar stage, but chances are some areas have evolved more quickly than others. Try drawing a map, like the one below to visualise where your programme stands against key criteria. This helps to clarify which activities are well underway, and where you’re just getting started so you can establish key areas of focus.

VoC maturity
 
  1. Programme vision:  A clear strategy links your VoC programme to key business priorities. What does success look like? Can it be measured? How is the business going to act on the data? The trick is not to do everything in the first year but to create a roadmap as a guide to a future programme. Ensure that you have a clear strategy, but think carefully about the phasing of your programme so you can take one step at a time and make sure you’ve got each step right. Take time to tweak when necessary.
    • What does maturity look like? Maturity here doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ve rolled out every stage of your programme. Vision is about knowing what you’re setting out to achieve and having a plan to get there. If you have a 12-month plan, look at developing a flexible plan for the longer-term. It’s important to make sure that your vision is tangible and linked to business objectives. Simply saying you’ll provide better customer experiences really isn’t enough!
       
  2. Design: You must design your programme for 2 audiences; the business and the customer. For the business, it must be relevant, robust and prioritised. This is where the customer comes in. It’s vital that the customer feels that you are going to do something with the data, so it needs to be clear why and what you are asking for. You need a consistent approach across touchpoints to allow the business to prioritise key actions.
    • What does maturity look like? This is often an area which starts well – it’s an obvious element, but languishes once things are up and running. A mature programme will continue to deliver to both audiences and the business over the long term, evolving to meet the changing needs of your internal and external customers.
       
  3. Engagement:  A successful customer facing organisation has the customer embedded in its culture. A Voice of the Customer programme can help to drive this culture change by providing actionable, engaging information about the customer. It is important to tell a story and bring the customer to life across the business. It is also necessary to ensure results are actively shared with all employees and that staff are empowered to use the data and suggest action that could be taken. In the example above, this company – like many – needs to focus on this area to move the programme forward.
    • What does maturity look like? In the early stages, activities like customer journey mapping are a great way to engage your business. It helps people to take ownership and provides a clear path forward. Mature models will have a structure in place to review and amend such maps, and a clear communication strategy (role-based reporting, internal events and social media programmes) to share results and successes. To keep your executive team engaged ensure they have a clear view of the ROI you’re generating and how actions are delivering business change. 
       
  4. Action: Action is what VoC is all about – and you must shout about early results. The challenge comes as your programme matures and those quick wins are over. Big wins in the later stages of a VoC programme aren’t impossible, but they’re harder to come by because they’re often more long-term, strategic changes that take time to implement. To ensure you’re able to uncover what those longer term actions are, you’ll need run key driver analysis harnessing advanced and predictive analytics.
    • What does maturity look like? Maturity here isn’t about scale of change, it’s about the impact. While you may have made a dozen business changes in the initial year of your programme, a more mature programme will deliver real process re-engineering opportunities and transformational business change. A mature programme will have a well-established process for closing the loop with customers when it comes to taking tactical action, as well as a more strategic approach using advanced analytics for root-cause analysis.
       
  5. Business value: When you design your programme, you will set expectations on how you plan to deliver value. For example, by reducing the churn rate by 10 percent by following up with unhappy customers and resolving their issues, you could increase revenue by £500K p.a. As your programme evolves and matures, you’ll not only need to deliver on those projections, but continue to seek out new ways to deliver value across the company. Again, in the example shows, this is an area where more focus is required in order to ensure continued investment and support from the leadership team.
    • What does maturity look like? A mature programme should be so embedded within an organisation’s DNA that the value it provides is unquestionable – but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be able to quantify it! The value you provide should be clear on several levels, including financial and operational, which you can achieve in the early and middle-stages of the programme. A really mature programme will also deliver demonstrable cultural value.
       

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