— June 7, 2019
According to research by workplace collaboration specialist Atlassian, less than 1 in 5 people believe companies listen to their feedback. Whenever a customer offers feedback, they are giving you an opportunity to make them happy—or at least happier. If 80% of people believe their input is being either ignored or lost, that marks a failure that could lead directly to churn.
However, that same research indicates that 97% of people said they would be loyal to a company that did listen to their feedback.
That’s why customer-centered teams value Voice of Customer (VoC), the process of requesting, gathering, and analyzing customer feedback. It provides a direct opportunity to improve the customer experience which, in turn, makes customers more likely to remain loyal. And in this consumer-dominated, subscription-driven market, customer retention is critical. By understanding what is Voice of Customer and leveraging this information, you can gain a competitive advantage over companies that aren’t listening to their customers.
What is Voice of Customer?
Voice of Customer is all about collecting, listening, and learning. Gather every piece of customer feedback, share that information across your enterprise, and act on it to improve customer lifetime value.
If the lifeblood phases of upsell, cross-sell, and renewal are outcomes based on customer experience, then direct customer testimony of that experience is invaluable. That testimony arrives in many forms, from survey responses to escalations to high-touch conversations and email campaigns.
There are two elements to successfully leveraging Voice of Customer (VoC) information. The first is to listen to what is being said. The second is to act on it. There is no point doing the first part if you can’t follow through with the second. After all, the challenge of VoC is to balance a high-volume of information with a personalized response.
Combining Words with Actions
Quantifying customer behavior gives context to VoC data. A broad survey response or unexplained Net Promoter Score, for example, is of limited value unless you understand the customer actions that inform it.
With a customer success platform, you can track customer behavior in detail. The platform is an active repository of every piece of customer information available. It can be used to generate insightful metrics that reveal product adoption rates, feature uptakes, escalations, and a customer’s progress on their journey. This live data can be distilled down to a single number called a customer health score, that defines the customer’s relationship with the product and their likelihood of renewal. Health scores offer a comparable, hierarchical view across accounts and indicate how to proceed. For example, a customer with a low health score may be at risk of churning and so needs greater personal attention than a customer with a high score, although the latter may be ready to upsell.
Be sure you are capturing feedback at multiple levels as well. Levels to focus on include:
- Experience or transactional: Support tickets or call center info.
- Relationship: All customer interactions.
- Competitive: How customers believe you compare to alternative companies.
In addition, gather input from a variety of personas. For instance, don’t just focus solely on individuals with buying power while ignoring the end users.
By combining this detail with qualitative VoC information, you can get a better understanding of the customer experience.
Turning Words Into Actions
With customer success platform data to flesh it out, VoC feedback becomes easier to understand. Better diagnosis of the customer experience helps customer success teams respond better and adjust their strategies if needed. For example, a customer may use a feedback survey to express frustration at their perceived lack of growth using the product. The customer success platform may reveal the customer has hit the limits of their license utilization or is progressing ahead of expected progress and needs access to higher level functionalities. In both instances, a negative comment can become an upsell opportunity.
Alternatively, your VoC feedback may consistently report high satisfaction with your product while your data shows tumbling usage rates. Such a situation would imply the customer has lost satisfaction with your product and is paying little more than lip service to your surveys, possibly in anticipation of ending the relationship. That circumstance would require a winback strategy that you might not have thought of otherwise.
In most instances, however, VoC information and customer success platform data will coincide. At those times, you can leverage both sets of data toward improving the customer experience.
Leveraging Voice of Customer Information
Voice of Customer information can reveal a customer’s personal opinions and emotions. As such, it’s important to respond in a personalized, attentive fashion rather than providing generic replies.
The advice below can help enterprises put VoC information to good use:
- Ask questions at the right time: Prime times to seek feedback include shortly after onboarding, when changes occur in customer usage and product behavior, the introduction of new features, or the completion of pre-defined goals.
- Don’t ask for feedback if you can’t respond: If the scale or complexity of tagging and categorizing open feedback is beyond your capacity, don’t seek it out. If there’s no follow-up to a feedback request, customers may feel ignored or that their problems are too big to solve.
- Share feedback across the enterprise: Customer-centered enterprises share customer information across functions and departments to create the feeling the customer is surrounded by an informed company shaped in their image.
- Personalize automation: Survey and feedback requests and actioned responses are often completed at a scale that requires a high level of automation. However, automation should always come with a personal touch. You can use a customer success platform to target campaigns for customers in specific circumstances and detail the response process in an automated survey “thank you” message.
- Treat VoC responses like escalations: We all understand the urgency of providing timely solutions to customer complaints. VoC information should be treated with the same respect. Each submission should be met with a timely response and an understanding of how that information is being used to improve the customer experience.
- Consider the big picture: VoC information should help frontline teams make improvements, but it can also help with larger decisions. Such feedback can be leveraged to make smarter investment choices regarding broad industry trends, opportunities, or threats.
Capturing customer feedback is an excellent way to detect problems in order to proactively address them. But detecting problems isn’t all that it does; it also helps you understand exactly how and why your customers are not feeling satisfied. Some customers may be interested in helping you address problems, and this can be a great opportunity to be sure you are delivering the value customers truly want. Your employees should not be left out of this process either. After all, frontline employees are often best positioned to notice gaps in the customer experience, so they can also provide valuable feedback.
Overall, you want to instill a simple message in your VoC engagements: we are real people, we are listening, and we care.
Benefit from Voice of Customer Engagement
Voice of Customer information offers direct insight into the customer experience. Be it gathered through surveys, escalations, or other channels, it is an opportunity to demonstrate that you care about the customer experience and want to meet their needs.
You can place your enterprise in the top 20% simply by sending the message that you are hearing their feedback and working to improve. Every time a customer contacts you, they are exercising their voice and offering insight. It is up to you to make the most of this information.