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Is your business on the Voice of the Customer diet?

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29th Jan 2014
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While many businesses are still getting to grips with setting up, establishing and fine-tuning their Voice of the Customer (VoC) programmes, there are some who can take pride in having reached a certain stage of maturity and become customer experience leaders. They’ve passed those heady days where the quick wins paid off and they can often find themseleves at a point where results no longer impress quite so much, most goals appear met, and the excitement, frankly, is dwindling.

But a VoC programme never ends, so what happens next?

VoC is like a weight-loss programme. Quick wins are easy to obtain at the beginning, and cutting out a few bad habits will yield significant change. So, in organisational terms, you ditch the burgers and chocolate desserts, and start going to the gym from time to time. However customer-centricity is a way of life – not a crash diet to fit into a new outfit. Once organisations with mature programmes have reached a “healthy” state, the hard work is to maintain and foster this culture in the long run, despite the inevitable peaks and troughs along the journey.

This puts businesses in a challenging position. Their goals and expectations remain the same, but the results tend to be somewhat less dramatic. Rather than operate by the same goals established at the onset, it’s useful to use this opportunity to set new goals. And it’s certainly more productive than staring at the scales wondering why you’ve not dropped a few more pounds and giving up altogether! 

A successful customer experience management programme needs to constantly adjust its targets according to changing factors, both internal and external. You may reach a stage where you need to almost completely start again because your business or the market have changed so significantly that your current programme simply isn’t fit for purpose.

Chances are, though, you’re not there yet, and you’re instead trying to push past that plateau and reaching a point where you continue to make steady progress. Here are some tips about how to keep the scales moving in your favour.

  • Identify additional bad habits: You’re already asking customers for feedback so review that data and use it to identify areas you’ve not yet addressed and set goals around them. When you started your programme, you probably had some key areas in mind already, and will have used customer feedback to verify and fine-tune processes. But amongst the feedback you’ve received, will be issues you’d not prioritised on, or which affected smaller customer groups. Revisit that feedback to find hidden gems that you can focus on now.
  • Don’t try to be a supermodel by summer: It’s important to focus on the long-term goals of your programme. Some quick wins in the early days are great, and not only do they have a real impact on the business, but they help win over sceptics and generate enthusiasm. But those days don’t last forever so ensure goals are achievable - a 10-point NPS improvement in year one does not mean you should expect the same in year two! Set expectations that the more strategic wins will take time, and will be more of a slow burn than a big bang. Think of it as gradually reshaping your body, rather than taking on a crash diet that leaves you looking a bit gaunt.    
  • Join a weight-loss club: A network of champions across your company will help keep things moving along so identify key stakeholders from a range of departments and make them part of your programme. Not only will their input help you to uncover insights from the data that might have been otherwise missed, but they help to ensure your VoC programme forms a real part of your company, and isn’t seen a pet project for a single team. Ensure your champions have the support they need to drive the continued success of the programme by keeping them tightly integrated in developments and able to share key aims and objectives of the programme. 
  • Build a long-term exercise plan: Your programme can’t run on short-terms wins, you need strategic improvements too. These address systemic issues that are much more complex and require cross functional action, but will drive the long-term success of the programme. Your stakeholder group will be important here too, as collaboration and co-operation will be critical to creating more complex solutions. Keeping an eye on the longer term horizons – 1, 3 – even 5  years is important, though. But remember to keep your plans flexible to accommodate the changing competitor landscape.
  • Flaunt your new figure: Share your successes through an ongoing “VoC Success” programme to keep employees involved and engaged. A VoC programme should involve people across the business, so use your champions, your internal communications network and any other tools at your disposal to highlight key improvements in metrics. Consider also sharing real feedback from customers which can be much more powerful than asking people to get excited about a shift in a number.

Karine Del Moro is vice president at Confirmit.

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