Improving The “How” To Learn More About the “Who”
44% of enterprises implement structured Voice of the Customer (VoC) programs to improve their customer experience and drive customer success innovation, (NTT, 2020). Organizations that develop and nurture an effective VoC program are able to generate actionable insights, develop a deep understanding of their customers and their needs, uncover novel product development opportunities and drive greater customer success.
But, building a VoC program is just the start. Recurring revenue leaders must continue to iterate, build upon and optimize their program in response to accelerating market changes and evolving customer demands. Failure to drive needed improvements and incorporate innovative solutions could be putting your customer relationships and ability to drive optimal customer value at extreme risk.
In this article, we explore 4 expert-backed tactics to transform and optimize your Voice of the Customer program so that you can elicit deeper insights that maximize customer value realization in your organization.
1. Leverage the Power of Digital Communities
Online communities play a pivotal role in fostering collaboration, knowledge sharing, and social interaction. These digital spaces democratize customer access to vendors, who in return receive authentic and diverse perspectives, evergreen content and brand advocates. That said, some organizations fail to realize the full benefits of their community investment by falling into an expansion-oriented mindset where communication is one-way (organization to customer). This mindset prevents other departments, like Marketing and Product teams, from connecting to customer insights to draw knowledge about industry trends or product feedback. Keeping a bidirectional flow of communication between your organization and your customers is essential to making digital communities a hub of great data and relationship management.
Another critical factor in the success of your digital community is the inclusion of a full-time Community Manager. While it is possible to start small and launch your community with a part-time role, this level of investment is not sustainable and can hinder your ability to expand the size and scope of your community. With a full-time Community Manager at the helm you can properly nurture customer relationships and advocates, sustain feedback and drive engagement as your community grows.
In order to make your community an impactful component of your VoC program, consider implementing the following initiatives:
- Q&A and Ask Me Anything (AMA) events that enable intimate discussions and engagements with your customers. Leaders can generate meaningful insights by paying close attention to the themes of questions asked as well as the keywords and language used therein
- Give customers the ability to suggest ideas, raise and vote on product enhancements, implement discussions and ask for advice from other customers and solution experts
- Focusing on diversity and inclusivity; this can broaden and enrich the feedback gathered as all members will feel empowered to contribute. This expanded range of input means businesses gain a more comprehensive understanding of their customer base while also tapping into innovative ideas
Initiatives such as these allow you to create a repository of valuable information that is referenceable in future searches by other customers, freeing up your organizational resources to handle other types of questions and requests.
2. Pull Customer-Generated Information From Everywhere
Structured mediums of customer engagement like surveys, online forums, and live chats are the bedrock of most Voice of the Customer programs. However, solely relying on these sources of information can limit the precision and depth of consumer insights you’re able to generate.
An increasing trend among leading VoC programs is the expansion of customer contextualization through secondary pools of unstructured data. No sources are off the table; company mentions on Reddit or on public Slack channels are examples of out-of-the-box sources that provide deeper and more authentic insights.
The most prominent source of unstructured data are platforms gathering information from client-facing interactions, such as CRM notes by Customer Success and/or Professional Services members, call transcripts by the same teams or call center/support groups, etc. Analyzing this data regularly will help you uncover positive and negative trackers, sentiments towards themes and elements like product, renewal and client relationship.
Additionally, a regular review of website behaviors and product telemetry also offers great insights; navigation patterns across web pages and platforms are objective markers of the customer journey. When analyzing this data, evaluate the following criteria:
- Are there recurring drop-off points?
- What is the session duration like?
- What are the users looking for in the search queries?
- What is the heatmap of user interaction showing?
By combining the data from your structured and unstructured sources, you can validate the integrity of your direct feedback and create a VoC program that truly aligns with customer perspectives.
3. Connect Directly With Customers & Conduct Thoughtful Conversations
While tapping into a myriad of sources for your Voice of the Customer program is important, don’t forget about tried-and-tested methods that are just as effective. Conducting in-person sessions with customers to gather direct feedback can be incredibly valuable and beneficial. This human-first, in-person approach creates a stronger bond that makes your customer feel more connected to your team and organization. Communication cues are amplified since non-verbal cues and body language aren’t hidden behind screens or phones, resulting in more meaningful conversations and better data.
These face-to-face sessions are also powerful upselling/cross-selling possibilities. Having spent time understanding customers’ challenges, your CSMs can identify additional products or solutions that align with their needs and problems. Additionally, these face-to-face meetings give you a competitive edge; while many businesses depend on automated or virtual communications, personalized attention is proof that your organization is a trusted partner willing to go the extra mile.
While one-on-one conversations with all of your customers may not be feasible, you can conduct interviews through focus groups, where 6-12 customers meet in person or virtually and share their sentiments and opinions about your products/services. Moderated by an impartial third-party, these facilitated discussions bring dynamic conversations that explore new perspectives and generate new ideas. Given a moderator’s expertise at probing for answers and their projected neutralism with your organization, participants feel more empowered to share unfiltered feedback versus giving socially-desired answers usually given in direct vendor-to-customer conversations.
4. Improve Your Survey Methodology
Many organizations continue to rely on surveys as the main source of data for their Voice of the Customer programs. While they can be useful, the quality and reliability of survey responses are largely dependent on the type of questions asked and format used. By enhancing and optimizing the design and implementation of your surveys you can obtain a deeper understanding of your customers’ preferences, needs and experiences.
Conversational forms are an innovative way of improving your survey experience and responses. These forms are interactive platforms that ask questions in relaxed tones, one at a time, with the support of visual elements like images, icons, or progress indicators. Users are given the option to respond via typing or selecting answers. Conversational forms can also adapt to user responses, creating future questions or answer choices that change dynamically based on a user’s previous answers. This reduces cognitive load (customization can mean fewer fields or dropdown choices to choose from), meaning higher completion rates. They also offer an innovative and user-centric approach to online form filling, making the process more motivating, intuitive, and interactive.
Another method to technologically boost your surveys is by optimizing for mobile devices. Given the widespread use of smartphones and tablets, organizations cannot afford to marginalize mobile users. Testing surveys on different device types will ensure a smooth user experience, allowing you to reach a larger audience and improve response rates.
Tap In to the Voice of Your Customers
A thoughtful and effective Voice of the Customer program must incorporate a variety of sources and methodologies to garner feedback from all of your customer segments so that you can validate that your business decisions are aligned with the diverse needs and expectations of your customers. By continuously refining your VoC program, you can cultivate strong customer relationships, stay ahead of competitors and drive sustainable growth in your revenue streams.