Head of Sales and Marketing Smoke Customer Intelligence (PTY) Ltd
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How to manage VoC naysays

21st May 2021
Head of Sales and Marketing Smoke Customer Intelligence (PTY) Ltd
Blogger
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VOC naysayers need to be managedWe have all seen the articles and research declaring that the ROI of customer experience being quite staggering – brands with superior customer experience show as much as 6 times more revenue than those that lag. Customer loyalty and lift-time value increase sharply, and generally, customers spend more.

So why is it that so many organisations are hesitant when it comes to implementing Voice of the Customer (VoC) programmes to better deliver on customer experience?

Factors primarily cited as hindering the implementation of a VoC programme centre around fear of change and availability of resources. While these concerns are valid, the reality is that a well-implemented VoC programme should not drain resources, should be easy to manage and should provide reliable customer data on which to base decisions.

The resource debate

Central to the challenge of garnering a budget for a VoC programme is that more often than not, the return on the spend is felt in departments removed from the department spending the money. Improved customer retention resides within revenue teams, the cost of fewer agents in a contact centre thanks to improved call resolution resides with operations, and often it is challenging to draw a direct line between these savings and of VoC programme. The solution here is to understand the ROI you are targeting, and viewing results holistically to show improvements across the organisation.

There are many “free” VOC solutions – but these come with high “hidden” costs thanks to the amount of human intervention required to deploy and understand results. Further, often these solutions are just not quite right – falling short on their abilities to reach customers effectively, provide real-time insight or data of real value. The problem with such solutions is that they end up costing far more in the long run than their more robust paid-for cousins. Lasting costs include mistrust of VoC solutions, a perception that they are more effort than they are worth, and an overload on employees tasked with driving such programmes. 

The truth is that an organisation with 100 000 customers, even for the most complex of solutions, should not need to spend more than $0.20 per customer per month for a VoC programme – and surely that is then worth it? 

We fear what we do not understand

For those new to customer feedback, there is an innate hesitancy that the introduction of invited customer feedback is going to open the floodgates for unhappy customers to complain endlessly. The truth is, that if that is how your customers are feeling, they will leave you – whether you ask for feedback or not (and often will take the time to share their thoughts, publicly on forums you have no view of or control over). While asking for feedback certainly places an expectation on the organisation – that once feedback is given, there will be a reaction – however, instead of viewing this as a negative, it offers the opportunity to recover from a service failure and retain customers, in a way that would otherwise be missed.

The gathering of customer feedback, in and of itself, is useless. It's what gets done with the information that matters. What this means is even the best VoC programme will fail if there is not a strategy and operationalised tactics in place to use the feedback effectively. Change management when implementing a VoC programme can be the single greatest effort required from the customer experience team. Without organisational adoption, feedback will fall on deaf ears and the programme will render limited results.

Starting on the right foot

For any organisation seeking to tap into the benefits of great customer experience, it is important to first set a relevant and attainable goal for your VoC programme. While you may have a roadmap with a long-term enterprise-wide vision, spending time identifying the area likely to render the highest impact first is wholly worthwhile. Nothing creates organisational buy-in quite like success and when a VoC programme is implemented in an area, managed well and shows results, the rest of the business is more likely to want to participate. 

The key to a successful VoC programme is selecting the right solution for your business. When weighing up DIY versus paid-for solutions, don’t only consider the spend in your budget, but the hidden costs that can accrue from the wrong choice. To make a VoC programme work, your team will need to drive change management and operational adoption, and should not be spending their time gathering feedback and creating reports. It is important to identify the actions that will create customer impact and then focus your team on those – and let your VoC solution do the rest.

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