Customers are talking - but are brands listening?
Every business acknowledges the importance of customer experience (CX), and many will have a Voice of Customer (VoC) initiative to gather and analyse what customers really think about their brand. But for too many companies, that’s where the programme ends, with no meaningful, lasting actions taken to address the issues identified.
Finding out what customers think of your brand is the easy part. Understanding what changes the business has to make, and why, is much harder. There’s very little room for error, with a third of customers saying they won’t return to a brand after just one bad experience. So, let’s explore the most common CX insight gaps faced by brands, and discover how to make VoC campaigns count.
Understand the context
People are so much more than what we do, yet that’s often the only thing a brand sees. They look at actions - purchases, decisions, behaviours - without being able to understand the complex context that underlies them.
This leads to brands second-guessing the reasons for customer decisions, or worse, overlaying their own opinions, experiences, and perspectives to fill this knowledge gap. The picture is further complicated by wider market trends that affect consumers’ expectations and make it difficult to keep track of what people want in terms of product, service or experience.
That’s where an effective VoC programme delivers real value, by providing the “why behind the what” and ensuring businesses truly understand their customers’ experiences and expectations. By integrating VoC with other customer data sources, brands will give their analytics engines the “fuel” they need to get under consumers’ skin and discover what really drives their decisions.
This enables them to open up new segmentation capabilities and find out which experiences could be optimised. This is even more powerful when a company gathers qualitative data from customers, visitors and prospects about their expectations. This first-party data, combined with information from other public sources such as industry reports, enables brands to understand, in real-time, the full context of buyers’ expectations in a fast-changing market.
Understand the journey
Customer experience doesn’t end at the checkout. The journey can be perfect all the way through to payment, but if the fulfilment or returns policy is poorly handled, the customer won’t care about everything the brand got right. And they won’t be shy about sharing their experience on reviews sites or social media.
A bad experience anywhere in the customer journey spoils the whole experience, so it’s crucial to identify and eliminate problems at the earliest possible opportunity. After all, the next best thing to providing a perfect, seamless CX is to show you’re listening to customer complaints by responding quickly and effectively.
Once again, VoC should go beyond identifying problems that occur and explain why they are happening. Businesses need a structure that flags these experiences to key stakeholders in real-time and provides automated workflows which instantly alert customer success teams when there’s an issue. Whether it’s a low satisfaction rating or an abandoned purchase, VoC will identify which experiences need urgent attention, ensuring the voice of the customer is carried throughout the organisation - without having to sift manually through a mountain of feedback.
Understand the data
If there’s no complaint, there’s no problem - right? Wrong. Just because you made a sale doesn’t mean the customer was thrilled by their experience. If your company doesn’t provide great CX, a consumer’s first purchase may well be their last.
Looking at customer journeys alone won’t tell you whether they like your products, services or CX. It won’t identify whether they felt let down by your website or support channels, nor will it give you insight into what you can do to make the experience better next time.
For most brands, this data already exists; the problem is getting to it. Although CX is supposed to be an organisation-wide endeavour, insights often reside in a multitude of different siloes, leading to a fragmented view of the customer experience.
A well-rounded VoC program ensures the voice of your customers carries throughout the organisation by centralising every bit of customer feedback, and giving key stakeholders real-time and targeted reporting of the latest insights. When everybody is on the same page about customers’ expectations and their experiences of engaging with your brand across their journey, nothing is left to interpretation.
When brands have all the data to hand, they can easily quantify customers’ post-purchase experiences, needs and expectations. This then enables them to discover what influences their decision to praise or disparage your company to others, and so make further refinements to the customer journey.
Organisations have never before had access to such a rich vein of data on their customers desires, expectations and behaviours, but they must start putting this information to good use. Simply having a VoC programme is only the start. It’s only when you really use it effectively, with a mastery of context, journeys and the data itself, that you can ensure customers keep coming back and, just as importantly, give their all-important endorsement to your brand.