VoC Baby Steps: How to Scale the Feedback Mountain One Hill at a Time

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Implementing a comprehensive, closed-loop voice of the customer (VoC) program can seem daunting, almost as if you are staring up at the top of a mountain. Just like any mountain, however, you only need to take one step at a time and scale each little hill to get to the top.

So what do I mean by a comprehensive, closed-loop VoC program? From my experience, successful VoC programs are made up of three key components:

  • Data: continuous and ongoing collection across multichannel listening posts
  • Insights: analyses tied to strategic business objectives that are directly linked to the customer journey and shared with all relevant cross-functional stakeholders
  • Action: design-thinking approach used to create solutions, supported by a customer-centric culture

Organizations struggle to develop different parts of these VoC components, but the common thread is that it takes time. It often requires a track record of compelling evidence to get senior management to support necessary investments to build out a more robust VoC program. However, it isn’t difficult to start small and build to scale over time. There are a number of ways that I’ve seen organizations lay a basic VoC foundation that’s shared throughout the company, building momentum that leads to further experimentation with new ideas. Consider these three ideas for getting started:

  1. Track Net Promoter Score (NPS) at a national level, or ideally at a regional level. NPS has many limitations, but it’s a great starting point for building organizational awareness around the measurement and tracking of CX. Make sure to survey unique customer groups to understand the experience that you and your competitors (and potentially channel partners) are delivering across your broad customer ecosystem. You should strive to track NPS over time, but at a minimum, go out now and measure the baseline of where you stand relative to your competitors. Take a step further and measure the relationship between NPS and financial outcomes (such as sales). Whenever you can put money on a customer experience metric, senior management starts to listen.
  2. Enable first-line managers (FLMs) to collect basic feedback directly from high-value customers. Develop a simple questionnaire for FLMs to ask customers about bright spots and pain points, and how you can improve to better serve them. Giving the FLMs a tool makes it easy for them to capture direct feedback in a consistent and systematic way that can be aggregated across geographies. Not only do you get insight into the customer experience, but it’s also a great way to strengthen relationships with important customers. You’ll find that customers are more open to providing feedback when they know it’s being used to improve their experience.
  3. Provide an online feedback questionnaire after critical interactions. These “transactional” surveys can be just three or four questions sent directly to specific customers shortly after an interaction at a critical moment of truth. How was your experience? Did we meet, exceed or fall short of your expectations? Why? What can be done to provide a better customer experience next time? You may even consider asking for consent to follow up with the customer for a deep-dive discussion on the experience. This will set the stage for closing the loop on the feedback by “righting a wrong” if the customer was very unhappy. (For more on these moments of truth, check out my colleague Will Carter’s recent blog post.)

A comprehensive, closed-loop process requires an integrated technology platform that triages feedback across multiple channels, and there are only a few companies that have truly scaled this mountain, but they only got there by starting with baby steps. They attacked each incremental improvement as a small hill that isn’t really that challenging to climb.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Greg Shapiro
Greg Shapiro is a manager at ZS in New York and a leader in the firm's customer experience practice. Greg focuses on helping companies improve their customer experience by generating customer insights and developing solutions for sales and marketing organizations. His experience includes qualitative and quantitative market research, portfolio and brand strategy, launch strategy and planning, customer segmentation, and go-to-market strategy. Greg holds an MBA from the NYU Stern School of Business and a B.A. in sociology and mathematics from Northwestern University.

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