Gartner research affirmed that 89% of businesses expect customer experience to be a key competitive force in 2016. That means many brands will be focusing on their customer programs next year.
It should come as no surprise that many companies plan to up their investments in voice of the customer (VoC) programs. Recent research from the Temkin Group revealed that 45% of brands plan to increase VoC and analytics spending. Just 5% of companies are likely to cut funds to these areas.
That same study suggested that most brands have work to do to achieve true VoC effectiveness. Forty-one percent of brands simply collect data, while 39% perform some level of analysis. Few companies use the customer insights they collect to shape business directions and decision.
Here are a few VoC “must-dos” for your brand to emerge victorious in the age of the social, vocal, empowered customer:
1. Collect Open-Ended Feedback
Numbers and trends can provide a great snapshot of business performance. But closed-ended survey questions rarely get to the heart of customer feelings. You need to give your customers an opportunity to provide freeform commentary. In fact, the Temkin study revealed that more companies will be moving away from multiple choice surveys to collecting open-ended customer verbatims in the next few years. This is a trend you must embrace.
2. Rely on Human-Rated Sentiment Analysis for Deep Customer Insight
After you’ve started collecting customer verbaitms, you need to seek out the meaning behind the words. The only effective way to understand customers’ communications subtleties is through human sentiment analysis. Skilled practitioners can detect a customer’s true feelings about your brand by analyzing nuances—such as tone, voice volume, and word choice. Plus, sentiment analysts can also detect if a customer may speak affirmative words, but use a negative tone. This can empower you to identify and address latent customer dissatisfaction before it surfaces—and protect your brand against a viral flood of negative online sentiment.
3. Use Customer Sentiment Trends to Enhance Front-Line Operations
Shifts in customer perceptions are some of the best tools to help you discern whether your brand’s messaging and positioning is effective. You can study customer sentiment at every operational level—from individual front-line employee to team, branch, region, or company-wide. You can also assess customers’ responses to specific products or promotions. With a hierarchical drill-up, drill-down approach, you can readily spot top-performing components of your service footprint. That allows you to understand what they are doing right and codify their experiential best practices organization-wide.
Today, many brands recognize customer feedback as one of their most precious resources. Is 2015 your year to solidify your position as an elite performer? If so, you must move from simple collection of VoC input to importing that high-value insight into your strategy and operations.