Customer experience work has been evolving for years, and it’s now on the radar of more execs than ever before. As such, you have a lot of thought leaders out there up-selling voice of the customer plans. Sometimes these voice of the customer approaches are great, but sometimes they’re put together by people who have never done boots on the ground CX work — and then they tend to be flawed.
Let’s be clear before we get into this: “voice of the customer” is the same thing as building a customer listening path, which is Competency III of my five customer experience competencies. But how exactly do you get to voice of the customer correctly? Let’s try a four-point action plan.
Voice of the Customer Step 1: Data
I could go down a lot of rabbit holes here on data and information in the modern business world. I won’t. OK, I will briefly. Many companies think they are driving customer experience by competing on data, but they haven’t changed any existing processes. If you want to compete on customer data, you need to shift how you run your business. Here’s what I mean in the context of voice of the customer:
- Build a blend of quantitative and qualitative information to tell a story about customers’ lives
- Do not simply rely on survey data
- Unite aided feedback (which you asked for) with unaided feedback (which is always coming in, i.e. social media)
- Real-time feedback should guide you; survey feedback should simply underscore that
That last bullet point is crucial in terms of voice of the customer. The power comes from convergence. All the information should be saying the same things and validating each other.
Voice of the Customer Step 2: One-company leadership
In short, smash those silos. If call center is categorizing voice of the customer one way, but marketing is doing it a different way? No one wins. It’s just separate buckets and the voice of the customer intel becomes essentially silo’ed and useless. One-company leadership or categorization of issues will help you start to see the value in the data you’ve collected re: voice of the customer. Silo-based reporting and analysis will just make you more frustrated.
Voice of the Customer Step 3: Make it human
I know everyone loves automation these days — I saw a survey a few days ago that 9.9 out of 10 (!) small businesses are trying new automation suites. Automation definitely has its advantages at scale and around certain “set it and forget it” business practices, but voice of the customer is not that. You need to practice experiential listening. For some good examples, consider Episode 3 of my podcast with Scott Dille at Northern Trust. The goal with voice of the customer work is to take customers off the “spreadsheet mentality.” Hear calls. Watch videos. Log in to complex sites and try to navigate them. Be the customer.
Voice of the Customer Step 4: How you present information
You need to present voice of the customer information from multiple sources and by stage of the experience — as opposed to simply by survey question. This presentation is more effective because the explanations of issues/questions/opportunities are rooted in where they exist in customer experience, not some one-off survey question. And remember overall: if you’re trying to compete on voice of the customer data, you need people on your team who can both (a) analyze and (b) present on data. If the presentations are a flop, the true decision-makers won’t care.
Be back next week with a new podcast, but for now — what would you add on voice of the customer?