The early stages of a voice of the customer program can be euphoric with quick wins allowing you to finally close the loop with individual customers.
We all know a satisfied customer results in better customer engagement, increased levels of word of mouth and higher retention rates. Which is a fantastic outcome in anyone’s language. But why stop there?
How can we use what we have learnt from these early wins to take us to the next level, to drive far-reaching change and really maximise the impact on our business?
The key is to understand the drivers of satisfaction or NPS® at management level and individual customer comments add colour to the metrics and an emotional connection to our clients.
But how can we be sure we are learning from our successes – and failures – to really drive further improvement?
We can, if we use a 3-stage process to, well, put a L.I.D. on it.
- Listen to our Voice of the Customer program to get an insight into which issues are impacting customers.
- Identify root causes Delving deeper than just identifying what will have an impact on a CX metric allows us to truly understand the catalysts that will make the changes to employee and customer behaviour we are looking for. For instance, staying with us, buying again or buying more, or reducing cost to serve. Simply tweaking a metric is not enough.
- Do something! In fact, just do ANYTHING! Don’t give in to analysis paralysis: start taking action immediately. Even the smallest, easiest changes can have an impact – and measuring that impact will tell us what we need to be doing next.
Which brings us back to listening. How effective has the action we have taken been and has it resulted in a better experience for our customers?
Of course, many companies are already doing this although there are a surprising number who only ever hear the squeakiest of wheels.
But then there are the companies who are finding huge success because of the level at which they are doing their root cause analysis.
Customer feedback can stream in from multiple points around the company with team members who take the initial ‘call’ working to close those loops by taking individual actions.
Meanwhile, up in the boardroom, a handful of executives are making wise decisions based on their rolled-up view.
Which is great, except for most businesses this only allows two to three initiatives to drive change in certain areas and that’s a very limited approach.
There is a way to broaden this approach, to develop not just two or three initiatives but two to three hundred initiatives, and it involves pushing from the ground floor up instead of from the boardroom down.
Instead of changes being announced from on high, employees across the company are allowed to create and implement initiatives based on the successes they have personally seen work within their area of responsibility.
Local managers own each initiative and run through the ‘Listen – Identify root causes– Do something’ model themselves, using specially tailored role-based dashboards so they can monitor their decisions in their departments in real time.
Naturally, in any organisation there will always be a crossover at some point into areas they have no authority over, such as invoicing systems. These are the items that can be pushed up through the business until the appropriate manager can deal with it.
Basically, the process should be that if a local manager can control something, they should. If they can’t, they escalate.
An added bonus to this system is we can share best practice as new initiatives are established and are successful. Any that work can be rolled out across the organisation.
If at any time another part of the organisation has a problem they can review a range of initiatives that worked for their peers in other areas to create a ‘shopping list’ of options to choose from. So how can we be sure there really is an improvement?
Basically, just measure, measure and measure.
Usually, this will be a combination of the objective analysis of metrics and results and the exploration of more subjective matters.
Hard facts are important, but so is listening to our managers’ thoughts on what is working and what isn’t. Despite all the facts and figures, if they have a gut feeling that says ‘this just isn’t right for this region’ that should be heeded.
Ramp up the alerts
A key component of our program, particularly for B2B organisations, is an alerting system for individual cases to ensure at-risk relationships can be salvaged through speedy action.
But to get a business-wide insight into key metrics, an aggregate level of alerting is also important to get a view of our norms. This vital part of strategic action management lets us know when something has gone wrong and needs addressing.
In most cases, businesses will need to operate within ‘control lines’ – that is, a pre-defined top and bottom score that accounts for normal variations. When a score drops below that bottom line, it’s time to take action.
With the right reporting mechanisms in place, it should be relatively straightforward to drill down – whether that’s within regions, departments or product groups – to see where an issue is dragging down an aggregate score.
If a similar issue has occurred before, our root-cause analysis and tried-and-tested set of initiatives can come into play, giving us a set of options to take immediate action.
Build a community for vital and viral change
This is true of all elements of a voice of the customer program but it always bears referencing and brings all of our above points together.
The key element to understanding actions taken and the results is through the creation of teams of people involved in our voice of the customer program who have a shared responsibility across regions.
As long as those team members have clear insights into actions taken at a local, departmental or business level, we’ll have the best foundation possible on which to develop and evolve best practices based on our successful tactical actions.
Chris Breslin is the manager at Confirmit, Australia and New Zealand