Managing Customer Relationships, One at a Time


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This post is co-written by Randy Brandt, senior vice president of customer experience, and Lorenzo Introna, vice president of product development.

In last week’s blog, we shared results of the 2014 Voice of the Customer Challenges and Practices Survey recently conducted by Maritz Research. We suggested that one way organizations can get the most out of their investments in monitoring social media is to use posts to identify opportunities to manage relationships with individual customers. Companies increasingly are thanking and creating advocates among customers who have posted about positive experiences. They also are acknowledging and trying to “make things right” with customers who have shared negative experiences. If your organization is not using social media in this fashion, you should seriously consider doing so.

This holds for other forms of customer feedback as well. Results of our 2014 VoC Challenges and Practices Survey (see graph below) reveal that, among firms that are successful at using the VoC to drive improved customer satisfaction and retention, the percentage using a) surveys, b) inbound customer communications, and c) social media to manage relationships with individual customers is significantly higher than it is in firms that are not very successful. In other words, using all VoC data sources to manage relationships with individual customers is a best practice that distinguishes successful VoC programs from all the others.


This should come as no surprise. Following up on “hot alerts” is a longstanding practice in the world of customer experience surveys. Companies routinely respond to individual customer comments and complaints in the hope of keeping customers happy—or turning things around if they have become unhappy. It’s hard not to see the value of responding and reacting to individual customer relationship opportunities revealed by the Voice of the Customer.

Why stop there? Why not turn the typical one-way feedback process into a two-way dialogue?

We’ve learned that a VoC process can have a more positive impact on business results when customers feel that they are valued. Being valued is not about discounts or special deals—it’s about consumers believing a company is listening to and treating them in ways that are personalized, relevant, and meaningful. (Check out what our research revealed on this topic for the auto and finance industries.)

Transforming the typical one-way feedback process into a dialogue is a key step toward using your VoC program to create value for your customers. Through the dialogue process, the consumer gives you more information and insight into his/her total experience, enabling you to understand that consumer’s wants, needs, and feelings—not just problems that s/he has experienced. Improved insight into why consumers do what they do will enable you to take actions that are increasingly relevant, timely, and helpful. A company-customer dialogue makes it possible not only to react to “hot alerts”, but also to pursue “hot opportunities.”

The approach Maritz has developed includes a mixture of real time responses, so called Givebacks™, as well as a mechanism to optimize individual dialogues and actions based on each consumer’s latent needs.

Essentially, the VoC process now is being used to influence the consumer experience by building trust and deepening the overall customer-company relationship. Our approach extends the scope of measurement to ensure an understanding of the depth of that relationship. This is accomplished through the addition of Key Relationship Indicators™, which give us insight into the level of engagement, trust, and lifetime value potential on an individual basis.

Clearly, using a VoC process to manage relationships with individual customers is a Voice of the Customer best practice. Responding to customer problems or requests is one way to use the VoC process for this purpose. Creating a company-customer dialogue like the one we’ve described above is an even better way.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Randy Brandt
I am responsible for helping Maritz clients develop and/or improve their customer and employee measurement strategies. I serve as an internal consultant to sector leaders and account managers and as an external consultant to clients. I help Maritz integrate research solutions with its other products and services to help clients reach their business goals.


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