How to influence mangers for Voice Of Customer: speak in your stakeholder’s language

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9 out of 10 customer experience professionals’ lives will change after reading this blog.* Getting buy-in for your voice of customer (VOC) program can be tough. As a voice of the customer leader, you often battle with influencing stakeholders internally, to be able to progress your initiatives.

(*Okay maybe not, but I got your attention and since getting buy-in for VOC programs is notoriously difficult, I thought these tips might make your life a little easier, at the least).

5 steps to a successful VOC program

This blog series goes through five ways to make your Voice of Customer (VOC) program a success, including:

1. Speaking in your stakeholder’s language
2. Customer lifetime value
3. Strategic ROI
4. Pattern Discovery
5. Pareto Analysis

When it comes to customer lifetime value, this is a largely overlooked technique to help prioritize what from your VOC insights, you should focus on.

Can you use customer lifetime value to motivate managers to really take notice of your VOC program? Use it as a way to develop conviction, to make changes and maintain momentum in what they plan to do, so that managers have the follow-through that leads to the actual results that you want your VOC program to generate.

Highlighting the strategic ROI is really important for understanding the big picture of customer experience value. Whilst a lot of managers seem to focus on the finite costs and the benefits, there’s a bigger picture and a longer timeframe associated with the ROI of customer experience.

With regards to the fourth pillar, telling your VOC story; there’s more opportunity to do that when you’re connecting the dots between different types of VOC insights and that means understanding patterns. Finally, for Pareto analysis, this helps you to do more with less, and so focusing your efforts on the critical issues that will get you further faster.

In this blog, we’ll share some crucial tips and strategies that will help you to realize your projects. This is an excerpt from Thematic’s webinar “5 practical ways to influence managers for VOC success”, authored by Lynn Hunsaker (Chief Customer Officer, ‎ClearAction) and Dr. Alyona Medelyan (CEO, Thematic).

First up is how to speak your stakeholder’s language, which in actual fact, is important in any role.

But especially when your audience are the managers in your company who need to see the voice of the customer as relevant to them and their roles, as a lot of times the customer data in and of itself somehow misses the mark.

Here, we’ll show you how to make it more obvious to managers that VOC is resonating with them.

Money is the universal language of managers

– Revenue (growth, churn, market share)

– Margin (costs, profitability)

– Share of budget (Volume, up-sell, cross-sell)

Money talks

Every manager has one thing in common: money. As crass as it may sound, it’s the universal language that managers speak and understand easily.

Because they’re in charge of budgets, they are in charge of a certain amount of resources, and they have targets that they’re responsible to meet with those resources, or financially. So, because money is the universal language of the managers you’re targeting, any time we can transition our insights into how it affects revenue, in terms of growth, churn of customers and alliances and employees, as well as market share – this will help them to see the opportunity.

If you can convey the relevance of our insights to margin or costs or profitability, this will motivate your stakeholders to expand their resources.

And also with regards to share of budget, making a case for the actual volume that customers could buy in the future (or up-sell/cross-sell opportunities), this is what really get managers’ attention and help them to take to heart your VOC messages and make them part of what they care about day by day.

There’s a couple of ways you can do this – these examples are just the tip of the iceberg.

1. What percentage of revenue is at risk?

As an example, you’re a fashion retailer and you’re looking at two pieces of VOC insights and compare them side by side. You’ve got these circles with VOC insight 1A and VOC insight 1B, in the picture you can see here below.

revenue at risk Source: Thematic

VOC insight 1A signifies the finding that “50% of your customers complained about lack of plus sizes in your range”. Say that VOC insight 1B is the finding that “25% of your customers complain about customer service”.

If you know who both these sets of customers are, then you know how much they spend; whether they spend more or less than others for. This way you can compare the findings with the amount of money they spend. Then, decide if you should prioritize actioning this or not.

If VOC insight 1B comes mostly from your VIP customers who spend a high amount with you yearly (and if for example VOC insight 1A is made up of complaints from your customers spending much less), you can see that it’s more important to fix the issue with your customer service.

So, it’s not just about the number of customers who are complaining but what type of customers they are and how much they’re spending.

2. How much budget is wasted?

Another way of looking at it is to take data that is static. For example, maybe you’ve been at an average of 8.1 for the past several quarters. A lot of managers will think, “Well, we are kind of in a safe zone, it’s good enough. We don’t really have to make any changes.”

budget wasted Source: Thematic

But in fact, you can say that by not changing this upward or downward cycle, we’re actually tying up certain resources in our company on this static performance and if we were to make a change we could actually free up the resources that are associated with the ones on the other end of the spectrum.

Essentially, you’re showing people an opportunity to free up resources and future value by addressing something that has been static that is just a waste.

3. How much money is represented?

Thirdly, you can conduct a qualitative or quantitative analysis. For example, if there’s an index you can show some key drivers of it alongside the corresponding factors to those key drivers.

If you’re able to identify that X is a certain percentage of the customer base and Y is another percentage of the people associated with answering that question, then you can help to show them how much money is represented by each of those layers.

It helps managers feel like they are a part of the decision making in terms of, “What part of this can we put our hands around and how much can we make an improvement to our revenue margin, or share budget opportunities represented by that issue?”

Get to know the lingo

Every group in your company has their own jargon. For example, the things that Finance talk about are going to be different to what HR talks about.

Source: Thematic

You might want to listen to some of them to get a deeper understanding. Maybe you can spend some time with your stakeholders to get to grips with their language or read some of their presentations. You can pick out words that they use, understand their KPIs, and importantly what their passions are.

For example, in IT, their language tends to be around system and data integrity, accessibility, security, uptime, redundancy, and compatibility.

How to get customer insights and connect the dots

Align what you do to what will resonate with your audience and be bold in recommending actions in their terms.

Source: Thematic

Make it relevant to their department

Let’s take an example. For Human Resources, you could present a finding such as: 65% of customers are less than “very satisfied” with responsiveness to customer requests.

At first glance, you might ask, “What does that have to do with HR?”. But when stepping back and looking at the data you may realize that this represents $800 million dollars of revenue and employee productivity is being slowed down because of having to rework and manage inquiries.

Employee productivity is part of what HR cares about. So naturally, this has implications for them in terms of talent allotment. You could recommend that customer verbatim and vignettes get integrated into courses and workspaces, for example.

Source: Thematic

In addition, you can recommend for succession planning, that there is a requirement to demonstrate a 20% cycle time improvement. Even if they choose to take another route, at least you’ve put something out in front of them that they can work with and that’s much easier than just leaving it blank and having them come up with it themselves.

Key takeaway: Experiment with these things. When you speak to your stakeholders, ensure that you’re always pointing out what is possible for your managers to lose by staying with the status quo.

Read part 2 here and make sure you stay tuned for the following parts of the blog series.

This article was first published here.

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