Tuning into the Voice of the Customer
It goes without saying that the most important thing to your business is your customers; your current base and the ones you want to target to expand your revenue streams.
Aside from hammering your sales and marketing departments to meet goals from well-intended plans or fingers crossed, exceed your goals for the year, what truly is the best way or ways to attract and keep customers?
As a starting point for consideration, do you know what your customers think about your business – i.e. its services, products and processes? Or maybe, have you considered what their needs are but also what they want from a business like yours?
Cracking these questions wide-open and assembling proper plans to address them can have a snowball effect on your customer growth. Think about it, how many times do you tell your friends or family about a negative customer experience and more importantly, a very positive one that exceeded your expectations?
Word of mouth can have a powerful effect on your business, so doing things right from the get go is exceptionally important.
To truly obtain the voice of the customer, businesses need to gain an understanding of:
· WHO your customers are (again, do you know them?)
· WHY they come to you versus the other 15+ companies that popped up on a Google search (or Bing if you’re a hipster) and get this…
· WHERE your business can find more like them.
Well we, the experts in the field of making this magic happen, call it: “Measuring the ‘voice of the customer’” – also known a VOC. You may have heard of this before but let’s dig deeper. This is a five-stage process through which customers’ preferences and experiences are:
5. Acted upon
When done correctly, this gold mine of data helps to improve sales and customer retention strategies beyond what you might have thought possible.
The aim of this whole VOC process is to:
· Delve underneath customer satisfaction surveys and uncover the REASONS behind feedback scores
· Understand customers’ needs, wants and PAIN POINTS
· PRIORITISE these to improve services
· Understand HOW CUSTOMERS VIEW and value products and services
· ILLUMINATE where a business is delivering on its promise to customers, and where it is not
· Utilise all this information TO INFORM A WAY FORWARD and identify which products and services you should develop and/or refine
Easy? No. Business critical? Yes. It is vital that your business understands the different journeys your customers take within your organisation in order for improvements to be made. Remember, each customer interacts in different ways, through different touch points, with different members of staff. They buy different products and services, and have different experiences post-purchase. The benefit of VOCis that it presents a unified view of the all of these customer journeys, rather than being focused on just one of these angles.
Where to start? What do I do?
You may already think you are doing this. “We have a simple customer survey that we use” I hear you say. Wrong answer. To truly understand the voice of your customers, a simple customer satisfaction survey will not do the trick – you need to spread the net wider.
It is helpful to gain unsolicited feedback from social media or review sites, where customers will voice opinions loudly on the great, as well as the poor, experiences. This can have a huge impact on new potential customers and should be managed well. Engage with customers through these platforms and be seen to be resolving problems.
Also speak to teams at the coalface, who not only understand, but know better than anyone the daily interactions that they are having with customers. These are the people who can easily draw out themes, point out the challenges and pressures which executives (is this you?) may be removed from. There may be an obvious, and simple, solution to a recurring pain point.
Accelerating the results
Think about it this way: Are your methods for improving your business growth ‘a thermometer’ or ‘a thermostat?’ Are you reading out the results of your efforts or are taking control and setting the temperature? Setting the pace? Setting the targets?
“How do I go from a thermometer to a thermostat?” Glad you asked. One tool that is incredibly useful in enabling a business to hear both the customers’ and the customer service point of view is Speech Analytics. It helps to uncover critical information on customer service and process improvements that may otherwise get forgotten and remain buried under a busy work schedule.
Mining audio for key phrases or sentiments can unearth vital strategy, product, process, operational issues and contact centre agent performance information which can then be used to enable better collaboration across functional departments and, in turn, positively impact a business’ bottom line.
Switching on to your audience and seeing the rewards
By listening to your customers and acting on their feedback, VOC enables you to build better products and deliver better services than you otherwise would have been able to. Customers love to be heard, and with more opportunities than ever for customers to share their positive and negative experiences in public forums, it has never been more essential for businesses to show that they are listening and acting on feedback. For businesses operating in increasingly challenging environments, incorporating VOC into their business model could be their biggest point of differentiation in a competitive market and the most valuable tool in their arsenal.