Your Customers Are Talking. Are You Listening?

Over the past several decades, technology has changed everything – including people. Consider the impact that the internet has already had on education, communication, science, travel, government, and business. In the past, a bad customer experience may have meant a lost customer or two, but today’s rapid advancements in technology have challenged that notion. As a result of social tools and online connectivity, the customer’s voice is amplified and has the potential to outshout the corporate marketing machines.

Ask any customer experience, research, or marketing executive, and they will tell you that gone are the days of companies engaging prospects through one-way dialogue. Customers will not simply be talked at, so market leaders have shifted their listening and response mechanisms to capture more of the customer’s input and behaviors. Now more than ever, customer relationships have a lot more to do with listening and engaging – that’s why developing a VoC and CEM program (Customer Experience Management) offers a huge opportunity to drive loyalty and increase sales. Customer Experience programs have become some of the fastest growing segments of core business strategies for B2B and B2C companies. VoC programs work exceptionally well for brands whose customers demand a more direct engagement, because capturing and acting on customer feedback is critical to understanding a prospect’s complex decision-making process.

Not only are direct marketing engagement programs top-of-mind, but according to Sole Solution – a firm that helps brands manage web, mobile, and social media – online reviews influence 89% of customers, which means VoC programs are essential to reaching peers and word-of-mouth outlets.  It’s true that ongoing conversation is the best way to capture the voice of the customer, but gathering and acting on information in a timely manner is the key to creating an effective VoC program. Organizations often have multiple touch points with the customer that occur across the entire organization, to include sales, support, warranty, and accounting – all of which should be taken into account when establishing new products and capabilities within a VoC program.

Customer technology providers will need to take on a new role, pushing the limits of functionality, ease-of-use and speed. Those that can’t meet this need simply won’t survive. It is no longer enough for companies to have a VoC initiative in place; VoC must be at the very core of every customer program, and it must be dynamic, flexible, and fast.

In fact, many companies are already leveraging this type of VoC methodology to realize the substantial business impact of real-time VoC initiatives. For example, a recent JetBlue survey found that early morning flyers leaving Philadelphia were less happy than passengers leaving later in the day. Using Qualtrics, JetBlue discovered why. These particular flights left before the airport shops opened, leaving passengers with no water, juice, or coffee. In response to this finding, JetBlue began handing out beverages at the gates of early morning flights and as a result, customer satisfaction scores rose immediately! This was a quick-to-identify, easy-to-implement solution that had gone unnoticed, but with a robust customer feedback platform, JetBlue can now make easy changes with immediate effects.

Voice of Customer Key Points

  1. Collect – Its important to identify customer listening posts both internally and externally. Surveys are the easiest and most common way to establish listening posts across all customer touch points and departments.
  2. Analyze – After capturing key insights, you can then analyze feedback in real-time. It’s important to deliver clear and actionable insights to the right employee stakeholders.
  3. Act – Successful VoC programs put you in the best position to act upon real-time insights. Know where the problem areas exist so you and your team can take corrective action immediately.
  4. Monitor – Continuous monitoring helps you to track you results over time. By having a 360-degree pulse on your customers, you can begin to uncover patterns around existing gaps or note where the best improvements are being made.

Technological advancements will make capturing the customer experience even more seamless as the Internet of Things, wearable devices, artificial intelligence, personalization, and the high-performance cloud make it possible to deliver the richest functionality in a way that is barely noticeable to the user. In this era of fast-moving data, customer engagement is a multi-faceted endeavor, but the challenge isn’t finding the right solution to help you collect data – it’s finding the right solution to allow you to analyze and act quickly and effectively upon those insights from your internal and external customers. If you don’t, customers will find an alternative solution somewhere else.

The good news? We can make better business decisions by collecting insights and synthesizing mounds of big data, faster than ever before. Better business decisions drive business advantage and profitable revenue growth, and in turn, happier, engaged customers who spend more money, more often.

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