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Spotting opportunities – why it starts with feedback

11th Apr 2016
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In today’s markets, barriers to entry can be extremely low, meaning that organisations need to be agile, able to spot opportunities and act on them before their competitors do. Illustrating this change, you can now buy your groceries from Amazon or bank with your supermarket – and it may not be long before your car comes from Google or Apple, if you have one at all and don’t solely rely on the likes of Uber.

So how do you spot these opportunities – and ensure you are pursuing the right ones? It comes down to listening to customers and employees and making sure you are in a constant dialogue with both groups. That’s why Voice of the Customer (VoC) and Voice of the Employee (VoE) programmes have to be vital parts of every business, rather than just add-ons that measure satisfaction and engagement. After listening to customers and analysing their needs the AA launched its own insurance company, with a target of selling 250,000 policies to existing members.  

Ensuring they deliver the insight you require revolves around four areas:

1. Asking the right questions, at the right time
When it comes to employee feedback, many companies still rely on annual surveys, while VoC programmes can focus on regular, quarterly surveys. This only gives part of the picture. Companies need to be continually looking for feedback from both groups, and not missing opportunities to let them have their say. For example, if you are moving office use it as a chance for employees and clients to provide input on design. This could suggest ideas that radically transform how people work, as well as increasing engagement as everyone feels involved. Sainsburys is currently buying fellow retailer Argos – surveying customers and employees of both brands about what they want from the merged company will help shape strategy and ensure the best chances of growth and staff retention.

2. Using the right channels
Employees and customers, particularly Millennials, want to give and receive feedback on a regular basis. However, often they are put off as the only options for them are to respond to surveys that don’t give them space to suggest ideas or give more complex, qualitative feedback. Companies need to look at using online communities as part of their strategy as they provide a less formal, more flexible feedback mechanism that makes it easier to interact with key audiences, ask questions and collect their detailed thoughts. Working with Questback, a leading financial services firm created an online community and used it to create new products with customers, as well as to test marketing messages and literature to ensure it met customer needs.

3. Integrating your insight
Simply looking at either employee or customer feedback just gives a partial picture. The real value comes when their insight is combined together, or ideas from one group are shared with the other. Typically individual feedback systems only flag the biggest themes and concerns, neglecting those that are smaller. By bringing all of your feedback into a single system, these long tail trends are easier to spot, uncovering lucrative opportunities to improve processes or deliver new products or services.

4. Making it accessible
Managers have never had access to so much data, bringing the danger that they won’t be able to see the wood for the trees or react fast enough to seize opportunities before they vanish. Companies require the ability to carry on a constant dialogue with customers and employees, asking questions quickly and getting the results in real-time. Responses need to be easy to access and understand by managers, allowing them to interact with the data with confidence and use it to underpin insight.

All of these factors require companies to adopt a unified, integrated approach to collecting and acting on feedback from VoC and VoE programmes. Otherwise, lucrative opportunities will simply be missed – or grabbed by the competition before you have time to react.

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