Valuing their voice: How to make the most of your customer feedback
The customer voice has never been stronger. As a result, businesses have to become more customer-centric by dedicating time and resources to collecting and responding to customer feedback, using the insights uncovered to improve and evolve the customer experience.
It’s not just customer service departments that are looking to customer feedback for guidance; marketers and ecommerce professionals are using this data to help acquire new customers and drive change across their business. This has led to a surge in ‘Voice of the Customer’ (VoC) programmes, in which businesses gather customer feedback from a wide range of sources before analysing it to capture actionable insights.
Gartner forecasts that VoC programmes will be one of the most significant strategic investments businesses make over the next five years, and estimates that the VoC market is set to grow 30 per cent annually. This is not surprising given the findings outlined in a recent report by the Aberdeen Group, which estimates that those businesses embracing VoC programmes could generate an increase in annual revenue of over 10 per cent.
So what makes a great VoC programme? This depends on a number of factors such as the type of business, its relationship with its customers, the aims to be achieved, the businesses’ own brand and ‘voice’, and the creativity it can bring to such a project. Nevertheless, there are certain principles which are common to every successful VoC programme. Trustpilot studied several leading initiatives from companies including Schuh, Tesco Mobile and AXA Insurance to find out how businesses are using the customer voice. Here are the three key areas we identified:
The first step towards implementing an effective VoC programme is to ensure that as much feedback data is being collected as possible.
As customers already talk about businesses online — regardless of whether or not they are asked to — it makes sense to be proactive and provide customers with a range of platforms to publicly share feedback, such as social media and online reviews.
When this is combined with feedback captured via traditional channels such as feedback surveys and contact centres, businesses can gain a wider ranging and accurate view of customer opinion. It’s also important to integrate this with customer behaviour data from CRM and ERP systems to link these insights more closely with customer behaviour.
By ensuring they have collected information from as many avenues as possible, businesses can begin to unlock the insights within it.
When setting up a VoC programme, it is critical to track and quantify the impact of customer feedback on business performance. This can be done by measuring factors such as ratings, social media engagement, customer satisfaction surveys and the sentiment of customer reviews, before linking these to business objectives including revenue, customer acquisition and retention. This enables businesses to make a clear connection between VoC strategies and their return on investment.
Of course, there is limited value in measuring VoC if the data is not being effectively shared with departments across the business. Therefore, it is essential that the information is digested and analysed with the wider business in mind.
By doing this, companies can make sure that everyone has the ability to use the data to their advantage while ensuring a coherent VoC strategy across all departments. For some businesses, this will continue to remain a challenge until business silos are broken down.
Armed with these insights, it is vital that businesses consider acting on trends that have been identified and agree amongst departments how best to respond. In order to do this, ownership of VoC initiatives should be centralised or at least well-orchestrated across departments.
For example, if there are frequent complaints about product quality, this can be addressed by manufacturing, whereas delivery complaints can be addressed quickly by the distribution department. By making sure senior execs are brought in at an early stage, or establishing a senior role dedicated to the voice of the customer, organisations can ensure the necessary structural changes are made.
However, VoC initiatives are not just about helping businesses do a better job of responding to problems. Ideally, they should also be used to help organisations identify opportunities to achieve a competitive advantage. For example, by leveraging insights to better understand consumer behaviour, and make improvements to the path to purchase journey on websites.
A final thought…
Although VoC strategies are still in their infancy, it is important that businesses act now to ensure they are prepared for its growth. By listening, measuring and acting on customer feedback, companies will be in a great position to make the most of their customer data in 2015.
Read more at the Trustpilot Blog.