Building a solid Voice of the Customer (VoC) program is a critical component in any company’s mission to deliver enhanced customer experiences, engage employees and drive continuous business change. However, a successful program requires careful nurturing throughout its lifetime – from implementation to results analysis and beyond.
A VoC program operates at multiple levels: strategic, tactical, leadership, frontline, financial and operational. However, each of these levels may develop at different speeds following different courses, so keeping track of each can be difficult. By mapping out each element of your VoC program and understanding where it needs to go, you can then better focus on what is required to move forward and ultimately deliver tangible results for the business well into the future.
The path to VoC maturity is not a linear one. In order to better visualize your organization’s current position on the journey, think of your VoC program as having five pillars. You may be taken in different directions as you move forward, but make sure you pause at each of these milestones to ensure you are moving in the right direction to maintain your focus.
The Five Pillars of Maturity
- Program Vision: A clear strategy links your VoC program to key business priorities. What does success look like? Can it be measured? How is the business going to act on the data? The trick is not to do everything in the first year, but to create a roadmap as a guide to a future program. Ensure that you have a clear strategy, but think carefully about the phasing of your program so you can take one step at a time and make sure you have got each step right. Take time to tweak when necessary.
Maturity does not necessarily mean that you have rolled out every stage of your program. Vision is about knowing what you are setting out to achieve and
having a plan to get there. If you have a 12-month plan, look at developing a flexible plan for the longer-term. It is important to make sure that your
vision is tangible and linked to business objectives.
- Design: You must design your program for two audiences; the business and the customer. For the business, it must be relevant, robust and prioritized. This is where the customer comes in. It is vital that the customer feels that you are going to do something with the data, so it needs to be clear why and what you are asking for. You need a consistent approach across touchpoints to allow the business to prioritize key actions.
Program design is often an area which starts well – it is an obvious element, but languishes once things are up and running. A mature program will continue
to deliver to the business over the long term, evolving to meet the changing needs of your internal and external customers.
- Engagement: A successful customer-centric organization has the customer embedded in its culture. A Voice of the Customer program can help to drive this culture change by providing actionable, engaging information about the customer. It is important to tell a story and bring the customer to life across the business. It is also necessary to ensure results are actively shared with all employees and that staff are empowered to use the data and suggest action that could be taken.
In the early stages, activities like customer journey mapping are a great way to engage your business. It helps people to take ownership and provides a
clear path forward. Mature models will have a structure in place to review and amend such maps, and a clear communication strategy (role-based reporting,
internal events and social media programs) to share results and successes. To keep your executive team engaged, ensure they have a clear view of the ROI
you are generating and how actions are delivering business change.
- Action: Action is what VoC is all about, and you must shout about early results. The challenge comes as your program matures and those quick wins are over. Big wins in the later stages of a VoC program are not impossible, but they are harder to come by because they are often more long-term, strategic changes that take time to implement. To ensure you are able to uncover what those longer term actions are, you will need run key driver analysis harnessing advanced and predictive analytics.
Maturity here is not about scale of change, it is about the impact. While you may have made a dozen business changes in the initial year of your program, a
more mature program will deliver real process re-engineering opportunities and transformational business change. A mature program will have a
well-established process for closing the loop with customers when it comes to taking tactical action, as well as a more strategic approach using advanced
analytics for root-cause analysis.
- Business Value: When you design your program, you will set expectations on how you plan to deliver value. As your program evolves and matures, you will not only need to deliver on those projections, but continue to seek out new ways to deliver value across the company.
A mature program should be so embedded within an organization’s DNA, that the value it provides is unquestionable – but you should be able to still quantify it. The value you provide should be clear on several levels, including financial and operational, which you can achieve in the early and middle-stages of the program. A really mature program will also deliver demonstrable cultural value.
Getting on the Path to Maturity
No matter where you stand with your existing VoC program, whether you are just beginning to map out your vision or you are looking to gain cultural value, keep these five pillars in mind to establish key areas of focus and remain on track toward your program goals.