by Sharon Ray
‘Knowing Me, Knowing You'
Voice of the Customer (VOC) programmes are rife and businesses across the globe are talking about customer focus, customer centricity, the customer relationship; the importance of ‘Knowing Me, Knowing You’ to pull from a well-known ABBA song.
How can you get to know your customers better in the digital age? What should you consider if you’re keen to implement your very own Voice of the Customer programme?
1. Know your why
“Why are you sending out surveys?” I’ve been asked many times by frontline staff who listen day in day out to customer issues or problems “Why is a survey necessary, we speak to customers all the time?”
But they cannot tell you the views from the silent majority, the views from customers who just wouldn’t contact you otherwise. Think of your own experience as a customer, how often you give feedback on service that ‘meets expectations’? Give your customers the opportunity to share their thoughts, good or bad.
2. Keep the survey short – 4 or 5 questions
I’m sure I’m not the only victim to be caught out with the please complete our short survey line. Page after page of questions and options and ‘why did you say that’ boxes that must be filled in before you can progress. You glance down and see that you’re still only 30% through the survey so eventually you abandon ship.
So, keep it short. Try and fit the entire survey on one page and if it’s only 4 or 5 questions, say so. Give your respondent every reason to carry on and complete.
Remember to include optional free text boxes for those customers who want to express their views.
3. Manage the project in-house
You can manage the entire process in-house; there’s no need to out-source. You’re in complete control – you can change the survey wording, change the sample size, switch off or switch on surveys. Team work is paramount here and you will need help and support from across departments if you are building, deploying and analysing surveys in-house.
Another option is to out-source part of the process such as survey deployment where high survey volumes may make it unmanageable to keep it in-house.
4. Numbers are important
Analysing themes from the survey results will put some numbers behind the anecdotal statements.
You can’t please all of the people all of the time so this will help to prioritise changes across your business.
Continually collect feedback from along the customer journey to avoid some of the pitfalls from, for example, quarterly waves where different times of the year may lead to differing moods and the way surveys are answered – surveys completed on a miserable day in January may be scored lower than on a sunny day in August. And if you have a different sample of customers from one quarterly wave to the next it’s difficult to estimate just what impact this has had on survey outcomes.
Analysing the numbers should be easy provided that you set up your surveys with lots of tick box options. Remember to include a ‘likelihood to recommend’ question so that the NPS (Net Promoter Score) can be calculated. You can then build dashboards and KPI (key performance indicator) reports to explain how the numbers change from one round of surveys to the next.
My belief is that you cannot rely on NPS alone; you need to dig deeper for the underlying drivers behind the scores.
5. The devil is in the detail
‘Free text’ is where you pick up the real nuggets of information.
You can use a text analytics tool with its clever algorithms to help out. Be warned, dealing with sarcasm is beyond their grasp so human intervention will still be required.
We are partnering with a text analytics specialist to consolidate our Voice of the Customer feedback comments into a single analysis and reporting platform. Their text analysis engine automatically transforms customer comments into actionable insight.
6. Be responsive
You’ve involved the customer to gather insight – so let them know you’ve listened and, if appropriate, learnt from them.
Map back to your customer base to find out who is saying what, when and why. If you’re sending out surveys across the customer journey this will allow you to monitor customer views pre and post business changes.
Remember, it’s a two way process and companies should report findings back to their customers. As a customer how pleased and surprised would you be to discover that not only has your feedback been read and acknowledged but that it has actually influenced change?
7. Finally, bringing it together
I was reminded at a recent lecture at Nottingham Trent University that in days of old shopkeepers ran customer centric businesses – they chatted to and understood their customers…and knew which products were required and when.
Today is different of course. In the digital age we don’t always chat face to face so we need to gather views in other ways such as online surveys.
By pulling together survey findings, making sense of key themes, making business changes off the back of these insights and most importantly letting customers know how you’ve used and acted on their comments
...then and only then can you become a truly customer focussed business.
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