10 STEPS to implementing Voice of the Customer programs
Do you really know what your customer wants? Chuck Schaeffer, VP of CRM, UXC Eclipse, says most companies only have a surface view of their customers' expectations. Without a complete and comprehensive picture of their expectations, several downfalls could potentially degrade research and development, marketing communications, sales effectiveness, service delivery and ultimately, customer experience. That's why he suggests a Voice of the Customer program for companies.
“Voice of the Customer (VoC) programs are a strategic asset for the most forward-thinking and customer-centric CEOs, CMOs and customer experience leaders," said Schaeffer. "These programs improve the customer dialogue and tabulate what customers most want from their suppliers.
“Gaining an accurate, complete and continuous VoC separates strategic customer approaches from the tactical and will dramatically influence the organisation’s ability to achieve its most important objectives. When organisations really know what their customers want, they can design business strategy, craft messaging and offer solutions that truly resonate.”
Below are his 10 steps for using Voice of the Customer to improve your company's bottom line.
1. Assess your culture
Despite the marketing rhetoric and self-proclamations of being customer-focused, most companies are product-centric, not customer-centric. To achieve VoC success, the company must be customer-centric or be on a journey to become customer-centric. If your company isn’t there yet, defer any VoC effort, consider why and how to adopt a customer experience (CX) strategy and revert to some simple survey analysis tools in the interim.
2. Assign a champion
All IT and strategic business initiatives require executive sponsorship. Additionally, a designated resource must be tasked to design the VoC methods, data schema and use cases. Because customer data resides in multiple systems, a business analyst with cross-departmental relationships may be an ideal resource.
3. Set measurable objectives
For most businesses, VoC will seek to capture, categorise and prioritise customer expectations and preferences by customer segment so that the company can orchestrate the right mix of culture, people, processes and technology in a coordinated effort to consistently satisfy their customers. In addition to prioritising customer preferences, it is helpful to organise these in a hierarchy with related preferences linked together. This will facilitate the use cases so that achieving one customer preference will add value or jump-start others.
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4. Design business processes
VoC can be done manually or with technology, using inbound or outbound methods. Manual methods often include focus groups, customer interviews or reference programs. While these methods deliver qualitative analysis, they don’t scale well. Organisations need to leverage technology to achieve VoC automation in a way that continuously gathers customer input and dynamically stages feedback so it can be easily analysed and acted upon.
5. Segment your customers
Customers are not homogeneous so VoC programs must be based on tightly-defined customer attributes and segmentation. B2B companies will want to segment customers by objectives and personas using both explicit (i.e. demographics and firmographics) and implicit (i.e. transactions and behaviours) criteria. B2C customers will want to further include key performance indicators such as Recency, Frequency, Monetary (RFM) loyalty program activities and social media behaviours. Also, a customer segmentation best practice is to create a category for lapsed customers. This group is quite often a company’s single biggest customer segment and can offer some valuable advice. If that advice is acted upon and followed with a reactivation strategy it can also return some big revenues.
6. Consider Master Data Management (MDM)
As much customer data as possible needs to be leveraged to truly understand the VoC. Most companies manage customer data in many applications such ERP, CRM, billing, marketing, service management, email apps, survey tools, Excel and shadow systems. These disparate data siloes need to be bridged to make sense of the customer relationships. This is a particularly tough challenge for enterprises that manage a plethora of systems. MDM is a popular approach for managing multiple views of the customer by consolidating, standardising, persisting and distributing customer data throughout the business so that it is accurate, complete and consistent. Don’t begin a VoC program before considering the data complexities.
7. Review VoC tools
Voice of the Customer software tools are commonly called VoC Hubs and are often differentiated by their preference for inbound or outbound methods, ability to capture data by themselves or through third party systems, and MDM or MDM-integration capabilities. VoC applications use many techniques such as email or online surveys, web self-service, website analytics, chat, Quality Monitoring, Enterprise Feedback Management (EFM), text mining, speech analytics, case management insights and Natural Language Processing (NLP) Knowledge Management.
8. Integrate to CRM
A best practice is to make sure VoC software integrates with the customer system of record, which is normally the CRM system. When VoC questionnaires or surveys can be sent from and returned to the CRM application, the process can be automated and the correspondence can be personalised with customer data. More personalised surveys improve response rates and make the feedback more actionable. CRM applications can generally also: tabulate VoC data from multiple data sources; append customer feedback directly to the company or contact record; update the account’s activity feed (i.e. Yammer); distribute notifications if customer problems or exceptions are identified; create and assign tasks for follow-up; roll the data into KPIs and reports; and expose patterns and correlations among customer feedback and company attributes.
9. Engage your customers
Whatever engagement method used, a key success factor is to probe customers using open-ended questions designed to understand the customer’s vision, objectives, partnership preferences, frustrations and measures of success. Also, consider all customer touch points such as email correspondence, call centre recordings, social media comments, marketing conversions, sales win/loss analysis, customer on-boarding and user group interactions, in terms of how they can contribute to a holistic view.
10. Measure the results
Payback needs to be demonstrated to make VoC programs sustainable. While many organisations use customer satisfaction measures such as NPS, CSAT or customer loyalty, performance metrics that demonstrate revenues and clear return on investment (ROI), such as customer up-sell/cross-sell, customer retention and Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) are far better. Time stamp key metrics to determine baselines and show trending.
About UXC Eclipse
UXC Eclipse is a leading provider of intelligent business solutions to the enterprise and mid-market.Established in 1991, UXC Eclipse’s success has been built by providing the highest levels of service and offering a choice of solutions from leading software vendors. UXC Eclipse also delivers industry-specific (vertical) solutions on the Microsoft platform to meet ERP and CRM requirements. UXC Eclipse’s service offerings include applications business consulting & project management, applications development, corporate performance management and business process management. With a team of over 600 people across 18 international offices (Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Canada and the United States), UXC Eclipse is committed to supporting over 2,700 customers.
For more information, visit our website at http://www.uxceclipse.com.au.