A recent study by Bain & Company found that 80% of CEO’s described the experiences their companies delivered as “superior.” Their customers, however, did not share quite the same levels of enthusiasm–a mere 8% of them agreed. 72% of CEO’s are under the false impression that their companies are exceptional. Thankfully this sort of blind self-confidence may be coming to an end. The IBM 2010 CEO study found that 88% of all CEO’s are listing “getting closer to the customer” as their top business priority for the next five years. And the best way to get close to someone? By listening to them, of course.
The process of gathering customer feedback is often referred to as a Voice of the Customer (VoC) program. Executed properly, VoC programs can boost Customer Engagement, which, in turn, has been tied to long-term business outcomes including higher profits, ROI, and share-of-wallet. In this article, we’ll explain how VoC programs can boost Customer Engagement. First, we’ll define and describe VoC programs, so that you can imagine what one might look like in your company. Next, we’ll explain a few ways that Voice of the Customer programs can improve Customer Engagement levels and improve your business’ bottom line.
In general, “Voice of the Customer” refers to any program that attempts to capture the opinions of clients’ likes, dislikes, and expectations. Such programs may track satisfaction, loyalty, or Customer Engagement. VoC programs are often deployed prior to the release of a new product or service offering – usually in the form of consumer focus groups and in-depth individual interviews, conducted over the phone or in person. Many VoC programs organize consumers’ preferences into a hierarchy of needs and wants, so that product designers can prioritize product specifications during the design process.
In addition, ongoing customer experience tracking is another VoC component that has been around for many years. However, as technological capabilities have skyrocketed in recent years, VoC programs have moved beyond aggregated trend analysis to ongoing discussions with patrons about their experiences in real-time. Through ongoing telephone, IVR (Interactive Voice Response), or online interviews, companies can gather consumer preferences and feedback, and immediately understand how Customer Engagement is impacted by different variables in the purchase and service engagesmart experience. More importantly, companies can follow-up with individual clients–closing the loop and strengthening the emotional tie with that customer.
Some Voice of the Customer programs includes real-time alerts that are sent to managers in order to facilitate timely responses. For instance, a Recover Alert could be sent when a customer reports a problem. All of these customer engagement software tools would be included in a VoC solution.
There are several ways that VoC programs boost Customer Engagement.
Improved Understanding of What Customers Want. First, simply knowing what your clients want can help boost engagement. Some consumers will automatically express their needs and wants, but many customers (up to 25%) will never say a word–they’ll just switch brands if they’re dissatisfied. VoC programs are a systematic, reliable method for gathering customer feedback. And with customer feedback on your side, you’re more likely to understand just what it is your clients need to become more engaged with your brand.
Input into New Product Development. VoC programs can boost Customer Engagement through the new product development process. By consistently gathering feedback, you can learn what your patrons are looking for in new products and services. Once those new products hit the shelves, they’ll sell better because they are based on current customers’ preferences.
Ability to Recover Lost Customers. As mentioned above, Recover Alerts and other similar real-time customer engagement software tools can help you notice when a customer is considering leaving your brand. Front-line employees and managers can better win back wavering customers when they have a Voice of the Customer program on their side.
Input to Recognize Outstanding Employees. Today’s customers are looking for more than a great product at a low price–they’re also looking for a compelling service experience. Some of your employees are service superstars. They are so enthusiastic in their service that they make natural Brand Ambassadors for your company. Voice of the Customer programs allow customers to point out employees that really make a difference. Customer Engagement software solutions can send out alerts to managers when a customer mentions a certain employee by name. You can use this process to find Brand Ambassadors within your ranks. Employee training programs can then be based on the actions Brand Ambassadors take to consistently increase Customer Engagement.