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Dayne Hatcher

Review The Voice of the Customer is not one size fits all

Dayne Hatcher

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Recently I’ve had the opportunity to speak with several people who head up their company’s voice-of-the-customer (VoC) and customer-experience (CX) programs. All of them have their own methods for gathering insights into their customers’ perceptions about the products and services they offer. But, notably none is a universal approach.

A company used its VoC tool to gauge how 120,000 internal customers (internal employees) feel about their business and IT services. To gauge the team’s performance, it uses quarterly satisfaction ratings as well as executive engagement surveys and instant customer satisfaction surveys. The company should respond promptly to any low scores so employees are aware they were heard. All changes made by survey results will be measured and reported in the following survey.

Alchemer’s client, another B2B ERP software provider, customizes their customer feedback surveys according to the customer. Each customer is worth millions of dollars to the company. The company only has a few hundred customers. The senior executives of each customer get interviewed face to face, while the majority of users of company software are emailed surveys. After the meeting, the customer account manager will report what the team learned. All data from these meetings can then be stored in an Excel data lake. The data can then be analysed for every customer. Performance and compensation of the customer business manager are directly tied to feedback. He or she must then make plans to implement the feedback.

Not all voices are equal​


All voices matter in a B2B relationship. However, they are not all equal. Strategies to deal with the concerns of a senior executive at large organizations are very different to those that address the concerns of a daily contact.

It doesn’t necessarily mean that the issues of day to day contact are invalid. The users might focus more on support and training, while the executives may be concerned about higher-level business issues such as ROI and adoption rates and how the solution will make customers smarter or better at their jobs.

Alchemer SVP Product and Services Ryan Tamminga said that “NPS can sometimes be directionally inaccurate, but exactly wrong.” The Net Promoter Score may tell one story, but the senior executives might have a completely different tale. If you lose either audience—your product’s users or their execs—renewals are that much harder.

Every customer is not the same​


VoC programs give each vote equal weight. A little research may show that some customers are more valuable than others. Your high-value customers could have different opinions from customers who just have an interest in your offerings. You might give the weight of a huge enterprise equal to a small business, and your approach around feedback may be biased in favor of small businesses rather than large companies.

Some customers are harder and more costly than others. You might end up paying more for some customers than you are worth. It’s true you should keep your customers engaged and happy. However, if your customer support team spends too much on one client it could result in changes that only keep that customer satisfied. This can cause problems for more lucrative customers. This could lead to you losing more profitable customers and keeping the less-profitable ones.

It is important to find out which customer feedback you would like to hear.

For deeper analysis and context, review feedback from customers and link it to customer segments. You can then make better business decisions.

Do your best to make the business more profitable, and not score points.​


Global head of VoC, an enterprise-software company says that “we all have our blindspots.” Fear of feedback is real. However, wouldn’t it be better to know exactly what needs fixing?

Company measures customer satisfaction in all aspects. He explained that NPS isn’t a key metric. It’s important to examine all of the data you have in order to fully understand how customers experience your products or services.

While driving scores may temporarily improve your score, what does it cost you? Do you have customer relationships that are dependent on your team customizing your service or solution free of charge when it should cost you? This is the risk of basing your customer satisfaction score on NPS.

A good VoC program should provide trending data, but a great one will offer you specific examples along with the good and the bad. VoC programs tend to focus only on positive feedback. But it’s equally important to consider all feedback. This is the area where you can make improvements. This is where your customers will see that you care.

Be attentive, but be active​


Many people forget the simple contract which states that customers who give feedback to you expect proof of their understanding. You are asking for feedback to compile a report. This is a breach of contract.

What number of surveys have you received from companies that you purchase from and what percentage did you respond to? Most people don’t answer surveys beyond thanking them.

Every customer reply creates an opportunity for your company to take action. But the people responsible for answering customer questions may not always be the same. It is possible that different customer groups, locations and needs require the attention of various team members.

An email was sent to an executive of an enterprise software firm by one of our clients on Friday. It informed him that a customer had scored his team 1/10. It was a Friday and an email notification came in that a customer had given his team a 1 out of 10. This triggered an automated process to initiate a ticket with weekend customer service. Not only did the executive respond to the customer on the weekend, but he also described to him how his company would fix it. It was fixed by Monday when the top stakeholder reached the office.

Never stop closing the loop​


It looks like you don’t listen when your company does not close the loop. The technology and business services department of a pharmaceutical company saw a 21% improvement and 30% rise in the response rates after they started taking feedback seriously. The program leader explained that if you fail to close the loop, people won’t respond the next time.

Ryan Tamminga of Alchemer states that “as an industry we must decouple analysis and action.” Before you take any action, don’t wait until the results are analyzed and cleaned up.

Consider yourself a customer. Think about how many times you have received feedback requests or surveys. Do you reply to surveys or requests for feedback often? Are you able to feel heard when your responses are received? Do you feel like it isn’t important to respond?

Companies that are open to listening have the potential of delighting and surprising their customers.

More Resources on Voice-of-the-Customer Programs​


Nate Brown, Marketing Smarts: How B2B marketers can leverage the voice of customer for business growth [Podcast]

Voice-of-the-Customer Data: The Key to Human-Centered CX

To improve customer experience and engagement in business-to-business (B2B), you can use voice of the customer
 

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