Brands rely on data to understand the customer journey, resolve friction points, and surface opportunities to shape and improve their product or service.
Data helps identify what customers need or want from your brand and their customer experience (CX) preferences, a foundation that guides strategic changes you can make to increase customer loyalty.
A VoC program ensures you’re catering to the needs of your customer base, which improves retention.
Voice of the Customer (VoC) programs focus on bringing that data to life by collecting, connecting, and understanding it. They therefore should be a focus of your CX strategy.
Here’s the customer environment. Customer expectations are rising. According to PwC, one in three consumers will leave a brand they’ve previously enjoyed after just one bad experience. After two or three negative interactions? A whopping 92% will jump ship.
Is a VoC Program Really That Important?
It sure is. A VoC program ensures you’re catering to the needs of your customer base, which improves retention. That has a ripple effect: Increasing customer retention rates by just 5%, according to Bain, boosts profits by 25% to 95%.
A VoC program can also pair with customer experience management (CXM), an ongoing effort to understand customers and develop strategic processes to improve satisfaction and loyalty.
CXM involves identifying and quantifying friction points in the customer journey, determining the root cause, and resolving problems at the source. With a VoC program, you can reduce the gap between customer expectations and what you deliver to them.
You’ll experience several benefits from a smoothly running VoC and CXM program. For instance, per McKinsey, cross-selling can boost sales by 20% and profits by 30%.
Take into account customer feedback and tailor your cross-selling strategies to their preferences and needs. This customer-centric approach not only enhances the effectiveness of your cross-selling efforts but also fosters long-term satisfaction and loyalty.
VoC also improves Net Promoter Scores (NPS), top-line revenue, and gives companies a chance to act on what customers like - and don’t like - about products and services. A strong program also increases customer loyalty, boosts sales, reduces operating costs, and grows market share.
It’s good for your team, too. Through a better understanding of your customer, your contact center metrics will improve. Agents can reduce average handle time, convert more returns to exchanges, and deflect inquiries to other areas of support.
You’re Collecting Data: But How Are You Using It?
Traditionally, businesses have gathered data using siloed information. They might take the results from a survey and use those datasets to drive decisions. But when you only incorporate part of the data, you’re only developing a partial solution.
When businesses unify all customer feedback...they get more value from their data sources.
Actionable data is information that’s been analyzed, processed, and is displayed in a clear and understandable way. Used properly, it helps companies recognize friction points, identify new opportunities, better customize products and services, and make faster and more effective business decisions. Data from VoC feedback falls into three main categories. Consider them all when developing your strategy.
- Direct feedback is when a brand explicitly asks for customer feedback through methods such as surveys and customer interviews. Direct feedback is good for understanding areas of improvement at a high level.
- Indirect feedback involves customers providing feedback without being asked, such as through contact center calls, chat sessions, emails, social media, and review sites. Indirect feedback is great for understanding context, details around friction points, and surfacing previously unknown opportunities.
- Inferred feedback is observing how customers use your products and services. This might include how often they’re buying products, how long they use your platform, or the number of customer service requests they make. Inferred feedback helps adjust user interfaces and website copy.
When businesses unify all customer feedback with sophisticated tools, they get more value from their data sources. An analysis reveals patterns, correlations, and cause-and-effect relationships, making it easier to identify customer intentions, wants, and challenges.
Managing Silos to Improve Your CX
One issue almost every organization encounters is the presence of silos. Teams in different departments lack exposure and coordination with other parts of the business, missing opportunities for alignment that improves CX.
Here’s how you can work to minimize the impact of departmental silos.
1. Maintain strong interaction history
It doesn’t matter how customers connect with your business: they expect consistency during each interaction.
Think about a time you’ve reached out to a brand on social media after seeing one of their posts. They ask for your information, then give you a support number or email. Once you contact support, you then repeat everything.
Creating fewer “argh” and more “wow” moments for customers doesn’t require moving mountains. There are two easy places to start.
First, ask the customer only once. If they’ve given their name and account number or verified their address, they don’t need to tell you again. And they’ll certainly become agitated if they have to explain their issue twice (or three, four, or five times) to different members of your team.
Agents should use CRM software to take robust notes. The best technology combines it with automation and chatbots, offering a real-time view of the conversation and past exchanges.
With it you can see who’s spoken with the customer and what’s been said, providing valuable context to any team member who engages on your brand’s behalf offering an in-depth look at how you can best assist them.
A CX map also helps. Include activities upstream, such as publishing, and downstream, such as customer service resolution. Tie each of these outputs to your organizational departments.
Second, don’t try to sell to a customer who’s currently having a problem. If they’re experiencing an issue and awaiting a reply from your customer care team, having a marketing email pop into their inbox about your latest product will only annoy them, not entice them to buy.
2. Bring customer care and marketing together digitally
Your brand likely manages hundreds or even thousands of interactions on a weekly basis, so you must strategically plan around digital media. Marketing helps shape the brand voice, while customer care creates an experience using that voice.
An editorial calendar can help keep these disparate teams on the same track. This calendar might look as simple as a spreadsheet or be a more collaborative omnichannel solution. With this type of collaboration, the customer care team can clearly see future marketing campaigns, from social posts to emails to media buys: which all will likely cause an influx in customer service requests.
These campaigns can also be promoted across your digital customer community to further drive traffic and action from customers. Instead of a blanket marketing email or post that frustrates customers with current issues, you can deliver the right messaging for the customer’s situation.
3. Measure and share often
If you’re not measuring your work, you’ll never know how to improve it. A distributed command center is one option. You’ll create visualizations of different CXs, how your team handles them, and other metrics. Share those throughout the organization and invite feedback on additional areas to measure.
Weekly stand-ups or highlight emails are great ways to quickly share what’s going on within each department. Use a survey tool or Google Forms to collect feedback and tangible examples of wins, areas for improvement, and ideas for senior management. The key is keeping these highlights brief: two-three sentences and a supporting visual should still be enough to get the message across.
Close these gaps, and you’ll see the rewards throughout your whole team. Those benefits include a unified brand voice and personal CX, improved employee satisfaction, more proactive thinking, and stronger results across your business.
Going Beyond the Survey
Because data is a mix of structured and unstructured conversations, brands have a mountain of information at their fingertips.
Deep listening on social media and leveraging a brand community - where you own your data - are among the best ways to go beyond the survey and gain customer insights.
However, this raw feedback must be distilled into insights that are simple, clear, and actionable, otherwise, you’ll keep spinning your wheels. Here are some of the benefits of using deep listening and a brand community.
- Targeted insights lead to more conversions. On average, based on our research, a company with superior intel because of deep listening sees a 15% increase in sales. You’ve got a better pulse on what your customers are saying, the latest trends, and the competitive landscape.
- Manage your reputation. Because you’ll know what people are saying first, you can more swiftly handle potential challenges or surprise and delight customers who praise your brand.
- Gain in-depth market intelligence. Market research is expensive, but there are strategic ways to collect it. By better understanding audience perceptions and behavior, you’ll spot new opportunities without going overboard on cost.
- Consistent, valuable content from customers. A brand community lets you leverage your own data while gaining new feedback from customers. Over time, they’ll become brand ambassadors, sharing resources and answering questions from others. Those ambassadors are creating a consistent pool of content for your brand that benefits everyone who visits your website.
Deep listening on social media and leveraging a brand community...are among the best ways to go beyond the survey and gain customer insights.
As the digital world continues to grow, CX will only become even more critical. The brands that capitalize on their data and implement a VoC program into their CX strategy will position themselves for success.
But as always, understanding customers is an ongoing journey. Keep learning and asking questions to discover what makes your customers smile, and tick!