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How Effective is Your Voice-of-Customer Program?


From informal tactics such as social media monitoring to formal approaches such as customer satisfaction surveys, it’s safe to say most businesses embrace some form of capturing customer feedback. Regardless of where your organization fits in, you’ve likely wondered: Could we be doing more?

The short answer is yes. That’s because an effective Voice-of-Customer program is more than just asking the right questions. It’s about a process that requires a strategy, dedicated resources, and a comprehensive plan for analyzing and addressing the information you’ve collected.

Understand What Being Customer-Centric Truly Means

Every company likes to say that they’re customer-centric. Every company likes to say they put an emphasis on customer satisfaction, on going above and beyond to create and keep happy customers. But the numbers tell an entirely different story: an Accenture Strategy report estimates that customers switching providers due to bad service costs businesses an estimated $1.6 trillion.

If you’re neglecting to fully understand how customers feel about your company, your products, or your services, then all you can do is guess at why happy customers stay and unhappy ones leave.

An effective Voice-of-Customer program offers a comprehensive strategy for building and reinforcing a culture of customer excellence within your organization. Additionally, these programs can grant you a second chance with unhappy customers and present the opportunity to save those at risk of heading to a competitor. You may be surprised by what you learn.

Here’s some low-hanging fruit to improve the effectiveness of your Voice-of-Customer program:

1. Carefully Read Feedback Provided by All Customers – Not just Critics

Yes, even happy customers have insight on ways they wish you’d improve your products or services, and it’s well worth your time and effort to find out what those ideas are. It’s likely they’ve provided some rich information in the open-ended survey questions. So don’t just scan their responses.

And remember, those customers in between raving fan status and unhappy customer status are also a very valuable resource—they may give you a deeper look at the decision factors at play.

Not only that, having an understanding of the good and the bad puts you in an excellent position to enhance moments of truth within your organization in alignment with the customer journey to eliminate customer service as a reason for defection.

You can also learn a lot from companies that have evaluated your offering but instead selected a competitor.

2. Put Your Loyal Customers to Work

According to Bain, loyal customers cost less to serve and increase their purchases faster than unhappy customers. These people are going to sing your praises to their network. They’re going to buy from you repeatedly. These are your cheerleaders, the ones who will loudly proclaim how much they love you to all their friends, family, and colleagues.

When you have an effective Voice-of-Customer program in place, you can easily identify your most satisfied customers and find different ways to use this to your benefit. Revising your marketing messages to tout the features these happy customers find so great is one example. We share more great tips here.

3. Assess Your Closed-Loop Process

You may think that as long as you’re collecting feedback you’re doing right by your customers. Hate to break it to you, but that’s not giving your customer a voice; that’s just placating them.

Customer satisfaction surveys, including Net Promoter Score surveys, are excellent tools for collecting feedback while simultaneously helping customers feel valued by your organization. But they are just that—tools. To maximize their true value, you have to put more thought into what you do with that information.

Our best advice: Don’t overlook the importance of communicating with all customers after the survey closes. This can be as simple as sending a mass email thanking customers for sharing their thoughts and promising to take action in the coming months.

The Best Companies Listen to Their Customers

Research shows that 70% of companies that deliver “best in class” customer experiences use customer feedback. Industry average is about 50%, and 20% for those companies lagging behind.

Implementing an effective Voice-of-Customer program will provide a decided competitive advantage for you, but only if you have an organization-wide commitment to making this feedback an integral part of analyzing and improvement products, services, and customer service.

Look again at the statistic in the previous paragraph—best-in-class companies USE customer feedback, not just collect it. It’s not enough to ask your customers to spend the time to provide their honest feedback. And if you make a habit of not addressing or recognizing the biggest issues, you’re only going to alienate customers who think you’re just going through the motions. It has to become a part of your company culture.

With an effective Voice-of-Customer program in place, you gain a remarkable level of unfiltered insight from people who want you to succeed—your customers.

Most importantly, however, is putting the customer at the center of your business ensures the important strategic decisions and priorities you make don’t end up at odds with what customers really want from you in the future. You can save an incredible amount of time and resources by giving customer input a lot of serious, thoughtful consideration and retooling your priorities accordingly.