VoC (Voice of the Customer) programs have gained momentum as a strategic asset for most customer-centric business minds and forward thinking CMOs, CEOs and customer experience leaders. In fact, according to 2016 reports by Forrester the Chief Marketing Officers, whose performances ranks them in the top quartile, mostly access VoC programs more often, than their lower-performing peers.
From our experiences, we have found that most business establishments consider that they are aware what the customer’s want, but unfortunately, in spite of all tall claims, they are more often either partly correct or imperfect in their judgments.The Chief Marketing Officers, whose performances ranks them in the top quartile, mostly access VoC programs more often, than their lower-performing peers.- Forrester (2016) Click To Tweet
In either of these scenarios, the results culminate to a cascading outcome that demeans marketing communications, R&D, sales effectiveness, delivery, and customer experience (CX) goals. Nevertheless, the diminishing financial impact incurred in any of these mentioned areas, are never discovered, as these significant hidden losses go unrecognized by most establishment owners across the globe.
A recommended Approach
If you are not using VoC program now, here are 7 infallible steps and some best practices to get you started and going.
1# Assess Culture
Despite strong self-proclamations of companies being customer focused, contrary to their marketing rhetoric, most businesses are product-centric. Since, just by calling yourself customer-centric, does not make it so. It must be recognized primarily to achieve sustained VoC success in any organization; the establishment must essentially be customer-centric or be on the path to becoming customer-centric in its journey.
Therefore, in case your company is not yet ready, it is best to defer your VoC program, and rather consider how you can adopt a CX (Customer Experience) strategy, and revert to some simple survey analysis tools.
2# Assign a Champion
Like all strategic commercial initiatives, executive sponsorship is a pre-requirement. Moreover, an allocated resource must be entrusted to plan the VoC methods, business processes, data schema, as well as collect and take action upon customer feedback. As data most often resides in multiple systems, consider appointing a business analyst to undertake this job with experience in cross-departmental relationships as an ideal resource for this work.
3# Set Objectives
For most businesses, VoC Process seeks to capture and prioritize customer preference and expectations after categorizing them so that companies can orchestrate the right mix of people, culture, technology, and process in a coordinated effort to delight their customers times and again. Moreover, in addition to prioritizing your customer preferences, we have found that organizing preferences in a hierarchy along with similar preferences linked together prove extremely helpful. This aids business processes in a way, that by achieving one customer preference you will add value or jump start on relative objectives.
4# Design Processes
Voice of the Customer Process can be done both manually or aided with technology, using inbound and outbound methods. The manual method of VoC process mostly includes reference programs, customer interviews, focus group and contextual-design techniques (like user-centered design ethnographic research). Although these methods are capable of delivering qualitative analysis, they do not scale well and so you need to use technology to attain VoC automation in a manner that you are capable of gathering continuous customer feedback and then easily analyze and act upon it.
5# Segment Customers
Customers are never homogeneous and so VoC process should be based on compactly defined customer segmentation. Business-to-Business organizations must segment their customers by personas and objectives deploying both implicit (i.e. behaviors, transactions, and activities) and explicit (i.e. demographics) criterions. However, Business-to-Consumer customers will further include criterions, which include key performance indicators like ‘Recency Frequency Monetary’ (RFM), loyalty program attributes and a significant amount of social media behaviors. For proper implementation of VoC process, you must also create a category for lapsed customers. This group, which often holds the biggest customer segment, can offer valuable advice to business organizations. For when this advice is acted upon and are followed with a reactivation strategy can also bring in some big revenue for the companies.
6# Data Governance
You need to leverage on as much customer data as possible to truly understand the voice of your customer. Several companies manage their customer data in disparate software applications like service management, marketing, billing, email apps, Excel, shadow systems, survey tools and more. More often than not these incongruous data silos needs to be bridged to make sense of the customer relationship, which often becomes the biggest challenge for business organizations trying to implement VoC process in their company.
Using a Converged CRM (Customer Relationship Management) platform (like ConvergeHub) for MDM (Master Data Management) is a popular data governance approach for managing 360-degree view of the customers by consolidating and distributing customer data throughout the organization so that the information is complete, accurate, and consistent for everyone working in the company.
When VoC questionnaires are sent from and returned to the CRM platform, not only the process can be automated but the correspondence and surveys can be personalized using customer data (i.e. prior VoC feedbacks, purchase histories and others). CRM software can also tabulate data received from multiple sources, distribute alert notifications when customer problems and exceptional behaviors are identified, create and assign tasks for follow-ups, create reports based on KPIs, reveal correlations and patterns out of customer feedbacks and much more.
Never begin a VoC program before you have teamed up with your IT department and have installed a system that can help you to abolish this data complexity.
7# Engage Customers and Measure Results
For optimal implementation and success of VoC process used open-ended questions designed to understand the customer’s vision, partnership preferences, objectives, frustrations for measuring VoC and use it for contributing to a holistic view. While there are many organizations that use NPS, CSAT for measuring customer satisfaction, we recommend performance metrics like CLV (Customer Lifetime Value), up-sell/cross-sell, customer retention measurements which show revenues and demonstrate clear ROI.
VoC benefits include improvement in CX (Customer Experience) as evident with metrics such as NPS (Net Promoter Score). Since when you know what your customers really want, you can create messages, design business strategies, offer solutions that truly resonates with your customers, and therefore provide a considerable uplift in sales conversions, marketing effectiveness, and ultimately enhances the Customer Lifetime Value with your brand, which results in faster organizational growth.