What? Let me explain. Voice of the customer or VOC for short is the way you put customer feedback at the heart of your business decision making. The ABC of voice of the customer is my way of introducing you to the topic. In essence, you ask customers (and perhaps prospects) for their views and do something with that feedback.
Given my background, it is perhaps not surprising that, at the time of writing this post, I work for a software firm implementing customer feedback management for our clients.
This blog and website is mine. Opinions shared here are my own. Having worked in customer experience for nearly 20 years now, I know just how important customer feedback is in leading organizations and how it can be used to good effect.
There are several key aspects to improving customer experience in your business. The first and perhaps most important is your mindset. Do you produce goods and services and sell them ‘to’ your customers? Or do you regularly adapt your products and services based on customer need? Customers’ needs change with time. So should you.
The customer experience you deliver is one of your key differentiators in your competitive market. So how deliberate is that customer experience? How many customers play an active role in helping you improve your proposition and processes? What mechanisms do you have in place to put the customer at the heart of your business?
Here’s the thing. Open yourself up to your customers input. If you’re not already doing so, I encourage you to start today. Let’s dive in.
A is for “ask”
What are some of the ways you could solicit feedback from your customers? Run a survey. Put a poll on your Facebook page or run a campaign on Twitter. Maybe you’re in hospitality? Why not ask for reviews online on Tripadvisor or Booking.com. For many others, I see an increasing move towards other sites like Reevoo and Trustpilot and sites like that.
Other ways to gather that voice of customer feedback might include you printing something on your receipts or invoices. You could get your customers to go online and fill in a survey. You could load a survey up on a Tablet device at checkout if you run a store. Or perhaps you invest in software and professional advice to get a proper programme embedded in your business.
B is for “be receptive”
Once you open the doors, you have to be willing to listen to what customers tell you. And they will tell you. Honestly. Bluntly. They will make suggestions. Some of them you won’t like. But the thing is, their opinions matter.
After all, we know that acquiring new customers costs a heck of a lot more than keeping the ones you have, right? Well, then you owe it to your customers to listen to their input. Sure, you most likely already know where the pain points are in your business. But there’s a similarity here with paying for consultants to come into your business.
I remember people saying… “why do we pay for consultants? They just borrow your watch to tell you the time!” But you see, they were missing the point. Sometimes, the answers are right in front of you. you might even see that. But there’s someone-else in the company that needs convincing.
The consultants bring a certain independence and objective outsider’s perspective, which cuts through the internal politics. Whereas with voice of the customer feedback, there’s no disputing it. It’s coming directly from your customers. They’re paying you money. If they’re not happy, you better listen. At the same time, when they encourage you and give you good news, that must be shared too!
In an early post I wrote about the importance of being responsive. Just a quick point here regarding social media and feedback. If you ask for feedback, and even when you don’t and it’s provided, jump on it. I see many firms using Facebook more for marketing and Twitter and chat for customer support.
I see customers who are disgruntled and unhappy jumping on whichever channel of communication gets them an answer fastest. If you don’t respond quickly and take their question offline to email or phone, you better beware! In this day and age, you really want to avoid unhappy customers getting irate online and that going viral. Try to respond within 10-20 minutes. It’s not good enough to take 24 hours on those channels like you might well do on email.
C is for “close the loop”
All this feedback is absolutely no use to you unless you do something with it. So if someone takes time out of their day to share their views and feedback with you, please acknowledge and respect that. Embrace the feedback and do something with it.
By ‘closing the loop’, I am talking about the act of communicating with people that do share their views with you. On review sites, you might respond in kind. If you are on social media, you will probably comment back. If you run more complex customer feedback programmes, you will probably want to call some of the customers back to discuss their issues.
Either way, it works very well if you make a point of communicating through your marketing that you are listening to customers’ points of view. Share the things you change as a result of it. It breeds confidence and trust. Two very important and valuable brand attributes you most certainly want to develop.
If customers leave you comments, read them. You can use voice of the customer comments to build business cases. They can help you shine a light on what is working and not working. You can make them part of your drive for continual improvement and excellence. That’s what will set you apart and win you more business.
By stopping people from leaving your business, you can grow your fan base. People who like the way you operate are more likely to buy from you again. Who knows, if they really like you, they may even tell your friends – and that cuts down your marketing budget because they’re doing your marketing for you!
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Thanks for stopping by. See you for more tomorrow friends – it’s the final day of this thirty day challenge – crikey!
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