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5 ways a VOC programme will change your business

30th Mar 2017
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Getting customer feedback is about more than measuring customer satisfaction and quality scores. Yes, these are important indicators which let you know whether you’re on the right track or not; but they don’t necessarily tell what you need to do to make improvements, or have an immediate impact on the business.

What’s needed is both quantitative and qualitative feedback so that you have both detailed metrics on where you stand with customers, as well as concrete feedback you can pump right back into the business to make big gains quickly.

A Voice of the Customer (VOC) programme is designed to do just that. Here are five ways that setting up a VOC programme can almost immediately have a positive impact on your business:

  1. Seize the power of customer feedback

A VOC programme broadly targets all your customers, at all stages of your customer journeys and at all points of the customer lifecycle. This means you will be getting feedback from your most satisfied customers to your most unhappy, and everyone in between.

Because the majority of VOC programmes use automated surveys – via IVR, email, and web – there is no need to conduct them sparingly to cut costs. The majority of customers, following interactions over any channel, can be targeted with a survey.

While the results of surveys can be used to indicate areas of dissatisfaction in general – perhaps identifying a particular process which is not performing – they can also identify particular sources of dissatisfaction for individual customers.

So, for example, if a customer takes a survey and indicates dissatisfaction with some aspect of your service, that can immediately be flagged and escalated. A customer service agent can then contact that individual to rectify the problem.

In our experience, companies implementing VOC programmes as part of their overall customer service strategy are able to reduce churn by anything up to 10%, which of course has a massive financial impact for the business.

2. Deliver ROI

While obviously not the primary focus of a VOC programme, it has been shown that simply asking customers what they think leads to an increase in their satisfaction – particularly if the business also goes out of its way to demonstrate to customers that they have not only listened but also acted on their suggestions.

The company can also glean valuable commercial information about customers while surveying them. With cleverly crafted questions it is possible to find out what additional offers from the company the customer might be interested in. This could be followed up at the end of the survey with a link to an offer, or some time later with a promotional email or phone call.

With the rise of social media, more and more companies are relearning the old adage that a word-of-mouth recommendation is the most powerful sales and marketing tool. Identifying your promoters is now quite easy with social media analytics tools, which enables you  to go out of your way to include these people in VOC surveys – or even create a VIP level for them where their feedback is sought in the early stages of product development.

The more your customers – particularly your most enthusiastic fans – feel involved in the decisions the company makes, and the design of its products and services, the more likely they are to recommend you to friends and family. The boost to new customer sales from this activity can be immediate and, importantly, measurable.

3. Improve Processes, Products and Services

Bad service, broken products and inefficient processes cost money. They lead to complaints, returns, requests for refunds, lost future sales, and the erosion of the company’s hard-won reputation. The longer problems are allowed to fester the more money they cost and the more expensive they become to fix.

A VOC programme helps mitigate these effects and save money in two ways. Firstly, it provides an early-warning system helping the company to identify issues and nip them in the bud before they turn into real problems.

Modern cars break down a lot less frequently because they are stuffed to the gills with advanced sensors that check the performance of every component at all times. With older cars, by the time you find out about a problem you’re standing by the side of the road with smoke pouring from the bonnet.

A properly implemented VOC programme is constantly polling customers at all stages of the lifecycle to find out not just what’s working, but even more importantly, what’s creaking or outright broken. Armed with this information, along with other metrics, you can then tweak or redesign processes and products to make them more efficient.

4. Reduce Customer Service Costs

The second way a VOC programme can help to control costs is by acting as a sort of proactive customer service. Rather than identifying general trends in the efficiency of processes, what you’re looking for here are specific problems that individual customers are experiencing.

For example, if a customer responding to a survey mentions they have not yet received their product after ten days, rather than wait for them to call in to your customer service team to complain you can immediately and proactively flag the problem and get someone to solve it for them.

Reducing the number of inbound calls the company has to handle, or diverting them to less expensive channels such as self-help, email or chat – which you can do if you’re proactively engaging with the customer’s problem – can massively cut the costs of providing customer service, reduce complaints, and improve satisfaction. In regulated industries such as utilities or financial services it might also be a way of avoiding fines related to inadequate levels of service or quality.

5. Boost call centre morale

While everyone likes to be told they’re doing a good job, it’s even more pleasing to get concrete feedback on how your actions have improved someone’s life – even if only in a small way. Telling your customer service agents that they have helped improve the company’s CSAT score by 0.1% in the last month is great news, but it’s so abstract that it’s difficult to feel any emotion about.

As human beings we engage emotionally with people and stories, not statistics. So if instead you can tell your agents how this customer’s life was changed, or pass on a verbatim message of thanks from another customer, the impact will be that much greater.

VOC programmes are designed to elicit both quantitative metrics – CSAT, NPS, etc. – and qualitative feedback in the form of verbatim and ad-hoc comments. While this latter, unstructured data of course needs to be analysed for trends using advanced analytics techniques, it can also be a useful source of motivation for staff. The satisfaction and motivation levels of people are shown to skyrocket when they can see the actual impact of their work on others.

While the benefits of a VOC programme are obviously ongoing, and some can take months or years to demonstrate an impact on the bottom line, the five business-changing benefits above can impact your performance demonstrably, and relatively quickly.

Opinion8 have issued a whitepaper on how to make your VOC campaign a success.  A free copy is available here.

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