data gears

Voice of the Customer: How to turn flat data into actionable information

28th Oct 2016

There is no doubt that Voice of the Customer programmes can make a real difference to the bottom line and drive cultural change across an organisation.

Indeed, organisations are working harder than ever to gather customer feedback from across multiple touchpoints, channels and geographies to track and drive improvements in customer experience at a global level. They are also making this feedback work at a deeper level – using the insight to truly understand how to retain active promoters of the business, minimise attrition, reduce the cost of dissatisfaction and improve business processes overall.

However, is it always the case that the growing data mountain is being analysed accurately? Is the truth being uncovered and communicated to the right people in the most digestible format so that they are empowered to make a difference and take action?

There is clearly a need for customer data to be integrated with CRM, operational and financial data and presented to the executive team in a dashboard that can be ‘sliced and diced’ in meaningful ways. And incorporating customer metrics as strategic KPIs alongside sales and profit targets obviously brings CX into the heart of the business.

Is there a better way?

However, could CX professionals benefit from harnessing the investigative skills used by journalists to uncover a story? Would CX programmes be more successful if VoC specialists were more able to translate and communicate the story (read strategy) to a wider audience? Could we make a bigger effort to tell better stories that can be shared with the widest possible audience – the entire company – and not just a select few – the CX team?

Metrics naturally have a key role to play in motivating staff to go the extra mile but context and comparison is often more meaningful than numbers, charts and tables. In order to drive cultural change that ultimately is the key to improving customer experience, customer insight leaders need to persuade and incite a reaction amongst employees at the front line to change the way things are done.

Storytelling as part of a proactive VoC programme requires a real understanding of purpose (the desire to become market leader, for example), the characters (the company, employees, customers, competitors) and the plot (what has changed, where are the bottlenecks, how can things be improved and what has already made a difference). Assembled in such a way, a VoC programme can be presented as a story that people will listen to, identify with – and more importantly – act upon.

Raw data is still needed but as data visionary Hans Rosling demonstrated over ten years ago, it takes a data journalist to really bring the story to life. In the same way, for employees to identify with the facts or guidelines being presented as part of an over-arching CX strategy, the key points need to be made much more tangible.

The most effective examples of storytelling in a VoC programme use real stories about real interactions with real customers in real settings to share good practice. Best delivered face-to-face, the lasting engagement with the purpose (the desire to become a more customer-centric organisation) can help to make CX a reality for all employees, not just the customer service or marketing team.

Offering a non-prescriptive guide to what ‘good practice’ looks like provides a reference tool that ultimately enables employees to draw upon what has worked for others and to devise solutions that are appropriate for each customer and situation, without seeking management approval. The decision to hand over responsibility to employees may seem risky, but encouraging people to think for themselves whilst drawing on shared examples of what worked well actually liberates staff from self-imposed constraints and enables them to do what is necessary ‘in the moment’.

Raw data is still needed but as data visionary Hans Rosling demonstrated over ten years ago, it takes a data journalist to really bring the story to life.

Sharing ‘good news stories’ about excellent customer experience as part of a proactive internal communications programme not only refreshes the stock of exemplar case studies for employees to reference as part of ongoing training and learning programmes. It also reinforces the message that VoC is recognised by the business as key to its ongoing success and worthy of recognition and discussion across the organisation on a regular basis.

Presenting dashboard highlights to customer service teams in the form of posters that pinpoint NetPromoter Score® (NPS), NetEasy Score (NES) and NetService Scores (NSS) on a weekly basis plays a valuable role in keeping key metrics top of mind. But adding good and bad customer comments enables employees to consider and devise areas for improvement that will enable them to directly impact customer experience and scorecards at the same time.

It’s this ability to translate flat data into coaching and learning aides that ultimately makes a VoC programme thrive. Understanding ‘why’ CX is important and how each individual can make a difference is what takes customer-centricity from the drawing board to the real world. Action management and operational reporting combined with effective storytelling can have a significant impact on NPS, NES and NSS scores, all of which can deliver increased revenue from a greater number of promoters and cost savings from a reduction in returns, complaints and refunds. Perhaps we should all focus on using data to tell meaningful stories that bring the multitude of charts and graphs to life?

Phil Durand is director, customer experience management, at Confirmit.



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By EJohn Morris
02nd Nov 2016 12:24

Thanks, great example of why story telling is so important. It puts a human face on to hard dry data and and provides reason to the actions.

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