I’m always championing active use of your Voice of the Customer (VoC) insights. After all, I say, if you’re just collecting your Customers’ insights but not doing anything with them, that’s a huge waste of resources. Normally when I talk about that, I’m referring to the importance of having a robust and enterprise-wide Process Engineering (PE) function within your company: A group of process experts whose job it is to take those insights and put them to use improving and updating your procedures, processes, and policies so as to better align your Customers’ experiences with your Brand Promise. It’s the engine of your CX function; it’s what makes all that effort worthwhile in the first place.
But, did you know you can also use your VoC insights to inform…your VoC work itself? When you gain insights about gaps between your Customers’ experiences and your Brand Promise, surely you’re feeding into the bigger CX ecosystem with direction on where to improve your processes. But you’re also offering insights into what better questions you can ask within your VoC program itself. Although you need to have more going on than just surveys, usually they’re the biggest (and most visible) part of the VoC program. But surveys aren’t usually all that dynamic. It isn’t often that brands crack them open and update the questions they’re asking. That’s a shame because with the freedom that many survey vendors allow for their clients these days, updating and changing your survey questions is often relatively simple.
For example, if your Customers are recently giving you low scores in a certain area (say, delivery) of your offering, you can dig a bit deeper and ask specifically about that area. You can use your top-line Brand Alignment Score (or NPS, or C-SAT) and then follow on with a direct and explicit question about delivery: “How satisfied were you with the delivery of your product?” “Did your product arrive on time?” “Did your product arrive in a satisfactory amount of time?” Not all of these questions, mind you. But you get the idea. Now your VoC is informing your VoC. It’s meta!
I worked with a group once whose VoC efforts were kind of loose…they were using the standard NPS configuration, but the follow-on, amplification questions they asked were based mostly on the sorts of things they thought would be important to their Customers. What’s funny was that a lot of their Customers were filling out the verbatims—the open-text ‘tell-us-more’ free spaces after the ranking or numeric questions—pretty consistently complaining about one specific aspect of their product that was aggravating to a great number of them. It came as a shock (to this company) when I recommended that they start asking specifically about that. They had already recognized (from having read the verbatims) that this was an issue, and even had a project in flight to address it. That project, naturally, had a few internal, operational top-line measures of effectiveness and metrics to gauge progress. But they weren’t tying it out with feedback directly from their Customers. They were expecting to see a response in the NPS as their own internal numbers improved (and to a degree they did), but there was an even more straightforward way they could have found how their Customers were reacting to their efforts: Just ask them.
They baselined the question within a week and found a very strong correlation between their Customers’ answers to that specific question and their internal metrics. (The correlation to their overall NPS was not quite as strong, which was understandable, of course, based on all the other factors that go into that overall top-level number.) As their project continued, they continued to see that correlation tighten up. It was fantastic for messaging to the leadership (‘See? Our efforts are paying off…our Customers are complaining less frequently about this aspect of their experience.’), and they began to apply the same process whenever they launched a new CX initiative or process improvement project. They had learned an important lesson about using their VoC to help guide their own survey questions.
Use your VoC to inform where to look to improve your processes so as to better align your Customers’ experiences with your Brand Promise. But don’t overlook the value of getting more specific feedback from your Customers to help measure your success in your particular improvement efforts.