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Six small steps to understanding your customers better

A Voice of the Customer programme is the process used for capturing customers’ expectations, preferences and experiences, with the goal of linking them to business metrics. It is one of those business initiatives that looks fabulous when judged by the results other companies have gained, but which can seem complex when the executive team is considering how to put it into practice.

This is especially true of medium sized organisations, where senior staff may find themselves juggling a number of responsibilities. Fortunately, there is an established methodology for building an effective voice of the customer programme, and it can be summarised in six easily digestible steps to help lay the groundwork for success:

1.       Segment your customers

If you want to improve the customer experience  (and with it sales and loyalty), you have to  understand the different types of customer that interact with your organisation. Modern technology allows executives to apply monitoring to highly targeted groups of customers. Once that is done, it becomes much easier to develop effective customer programmes and retention strategies.

2.       Understand customer interactions

The next step is to understand the different types of interaction that customers have with your organisation. That’s difficult without sharing information across departments, but once you’ve put a system in place to make each contact with a customer visible across the whole organisation it then becomes a whole lot easier to understand why customers are getting in touch. It also contributes to the customer experience – information sharing like this makes it much easier to pass customers between departments, and can reduce the need to do so as frequently.

3.       Establish listening posts and moments of truth

All points in the customer journey are important, but some are more important than others – if you have good visibility of the customer journey then you can then begin to identify the most important points in that journey, and seek to optimise the customer experience at these points. Such visibility also allows you to select the best points at which to collect customer feedback.

4.       Monitor progress

As with any business initiative, a voice of the customer programme should not be embarked upon without a specific goal or goals in mind. Those should be realistic in both scale and timing, and it is important to pay close attention to the programme as it progresses , to ensure that it is on target to meet its objectives.

5.       Manage challenges from diverse information sources

None of this is possible without being able to integrate feedback and communications from every channel that the organisation uses to interact with its customers. Customers will get in touch by whichever means seem most convenient at the time, so an organisation should be able to provide an experience of equally high quality across all channels. The right management tools will allow you to have an equally high degree of visibility across all channels as well.

6.       Appreciate the value of analytics

To extract the full value from a voice of the customer programme, it’s important to fully exploit the data collected. That means analysing a lot of data. Fortunately technology is advancing all the time, and there are now analytics platforms that can deal easily with the kind of unstructured data generated by customer feedback and interactions. Analysing that data, both historically and in real time, will allow the organisation to capitalise on its gains in customer experience; to inform customer relationships, improve internal operations, and gain market insights to keep it ahead of the competition.

For one Verint customer, getting to grips with the voice of the customer resulted in a saving of about $1.7 million in revenue in the first three months. You can hear more about it here.