VoC: what’s wrong with VoC and how do you get it right? (Part II)


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In the previous post I shared the first part of my discussion around VoC with Erich Dietz, VP of Business Solutions at Mindshare Technologies (specialists in customer surveys and enterprise feedback). The key point of that post was captured in Erich’s words: “No-one is really doing VoC surveys with the customer in mind!” In this post I wish to share/discuss with you the other big issue that came up in my conversation with Eric. Before that lets just briefly summarise best practice in soliciting customer feedback.

Lets assume your organisation is following best practice in soliciting customer feedback

Lets assume that you:

1. Have come up with the right incentives to encourage feedback – incentives that encourage your customers to give up their time and make an effort to give you feedback on what matters to them and how you are doing in meeting those needs;

2. Have made giving feedback a natural extension of the already occurring conversation – e.g. using the call coming into the contact centre to engage the customer in a dialogue and invite her to share her experience, to give feedback immediately after the call;

3. Have purposefully and cleverly designed the survey process so that it is short and easy by only asking a small number of questions that really matter that can help improve the customer experience – questions that you do not have answers to already or those that you cannot get answers to by trawling through your internal systems and/or speaking with your employees who touch the customer;

4. Are making effective use of VoC technologies to allow customers to provide feedback through their preferred channels/devices e.g. email, phone, IVR…..

5. Major in soliciting unstructured feedback and minor in structured feedback – that is to say that you primarily set out to get unstructured feedback and reinforce this with some structured questions which enhance the value of the unstructured feedback e.g. “How many contacts did it take for you to get your issue resolved?”

6. Have in place a team/process/platform for converting this feedback into actionable insight into what matters to your customers – what is working well and what is not working or your customers: policies, processes, products, services, customer facing employees, technology…..

The question is this, “Is this enough?” Erich and I agreed that this is not enough. For all this work to generate value it is necessary, critical, that your organisation (Tops, Middles, Bottoms) act – act decisively to make changes that improve the customer experience, engender customer happiness and thus cultivate both customer advocacy and customer loyalty. Is this happening?

The second major issue: too many companies talk about the Customer Experience and don’t act, don’t deliver!

Acting decisively on VoC generated customer insight to improve the customer experience by making the proper changes – policies, processes, people, technology, retail store environment etc – is the second big failing in the VoC arena. What do I mean? If I understood Erich correctly then he said something remarkably similar to this: “Too many companies say that they are committed to improving the customer experience and yet don’t deliver on this commitment, this promise!”

When I probed into this to ask Erich why this is happening, why companies are failing to act on their VoC insight which they are collecting and paying for, Erich said that he had heard just about every excuse there is. Probing further, Erich stated that the top two reason/excuses offered by clients tend to be:

  1. Other priorities; and
  2. Lack of resources.

I could hear the frustration in Erich’s voice. Clearly this is a man who cares about the Customer Experience, he exclaimed his frustration “These are companies where revenues are flat, profits are flat, the customer experience is poor and yet ‘other priorities’ are important than improving the customer experience!”

Making VoC insight pay: what’s missing the presence of which makes all the difference?

Here is what I say: can you imagine Steve Jobs saying that anything was more important than designing great products – products that would wow customer through a great end-to-end user experience?

I was listening to Steve Jobs biography and there is passage that speaks to the situation that Erich is describing here. The passage, the quote from Jobs, goes something like this: “At too many companies design is simply veneer, at Apple design is the essence of what we do.” So I would say that my observation is as follows:

Look at Customer Experience masters (e.g. Apple, Starbucks, Amazon) and you will find that the Customer Experience is the essence of what the organisation is designed to do and compete on. Look at everyone else who is speaking and touting their love of the customer and the customer experience and you will find that for the Tops in these organisation Customer Experience is simply a veneer: lipstick on a pig!

Part III coming next

In the next and last post, I will set out Erich’s recommendations on how to do VoC right so that your organisation generates value – for you and your customers. Thanks for listening to my speaking!

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Maz Iqbal
Experienced management consultant and customer strategist who has been grappling with 'customer-centric business' since early 1999.


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