Why VoC and CX Cannot Be One-Size-Fits-All
Recently we’ve had the opportunity to speak with several companies about their voice-of-the-customer (VoC) and customer experience (CX) programs. They each take very different approaches to gathering insight into how their customers perceive their products and services.
A large pharmaceutical company measures how more than 120,000 employees (internal customers) around the world feel about their business and IT services. They use a combination of quarterly satisfaction ratings, executive engagement surveys, and (coming soon) immediate customer satisfaction surveys to gauge how their team is doing. Low scores require immediate responses, ensuring employees know they have been heard, and any changes made because of survey results are then measured in the next survey.
A large enterprise software and services company tailors their customer feedback surveys to each customer. The company has just a couple hundred customers, each worth millions to the business. Senior executives are interviewed face-to-face while most of the users at each customer receive email-based surveys through Alchemer.
Each customer business manager who owns the account reports what they learned in their in-person meetings also using Alchemer so that all of the data can be stored in a data lake and analyzed for each customer as well as overall. The customer business manager is tied to the feedback and is responsible for putting plans in place to act on the feedback for their customer.
Not All Voices are Equal
In a business-to-business (B2B) relationship, not all voices are equal. The strategies to address a senior executive's concerns at a large organization are different from those to address a day-to-day contact's concerns. This doesn’t mean the day-to-day contact’s concerns aren’t valid; they’re just very different. They might be more focused on training and support, while the executive is concerned with higher-level business concerns such as ROI, adoption rates, and how the product or solution is making the customer better or smarter at what they do.
This difference in perspectives between an executive and frontline employee is why Ryan Tamminga, Alchemer's SVP of product and services, also believes that “Net Promoter Score (NPS) can be directionally accurate, but precisely wrong.” Overall, the score might tell one tale, but the senior executives are telling a different story. If you lose either audience, renewals are that much harder.
For business-to-consumer (B2C) relationships, you really must consider how people use your product or solution. When influencers can dramatically improve your brand awareness or sales, then they need to be handled with kid gloves. For most B2C VoC and CX programs, though, each vote carries equal weight. However, some research might show you that certain customers have a greater lifetime value than others and they might have opinions that differ from those who are simply consumers.
Ask to Listen
If you are just asking so that you can compile a report, you will get progressively worse feedback. There is an unspoken contract that when customers give you feedback, they expect to see proof that you heard them. Ask yourself how many surveys you receive a week and how many you answer. If you’re like most people, you only answer those where you get some kind of response in addition to a thank-you screen.
If you are truly listening, each response creates an action item for somebody in your organization. Who is responsible for responding also can’t be set in stone. A global gaming company actively listens for trigger words, such as “addicted” or “broke,” to make sure that they are helping their players be responsible. If any of those words appear, the player is contacted. By listening to players, they also learned that one game was difficult to understand at first, so they added informational articles to help people become better players. This also helped the company retain more players.
Listen to Improve
“We all have our blind spots,” explains the global head of VoC at the enterprise software and services company. “Fear of feedback is real. But wouldn’t you rather know what you have to fix?” His company measures metrics across the board to assess the entire customer experience. “NPS is not a key metric for us,” he explains. “It’s more important to look across all the datasets you have to truly understand how your customers are experiencing your services and products.”
Any decent VoC program will provide trending numbers, and a good one will give you the good, the bad, and the ugly feedback along with specific examples. Too often VoC programs will only share the positive feedback. However, it is equally important to look at the reported challenges. That is where you can improve and show your customers that you are listening.
Close the Loop
If you don’t close the loop, it’s the same as not listening. The pharmaceutical company’s IT and business services group saw a 21 percent improvement in satisfaction and a 30 percent increase in response rates once they began acting on feedback. “If you don’t close the loop, they don’t give feedback the next time,” explained the program lead.
“We need to decouple analysis from action,” says Tamminga. This means that you do not need to wait for the results to be aggregated and analyzed before acting on individual customer feedback. Survey platforms allow teams to trigger an immediate email or a Slack message so that the impact on a single customer’s experience isn’t delayed.
Consider how many times you have received a survey or a request for feedback from a company. How often do you respond? Do you feel heard when you do respond? Do you no longer respond because no matter what you say, it doesn’t seem to matter? The truth is that the feedback contract has been broken. Which means that you have an opportunity to surprise and delight your customers.
Vanessa Bagnato is director of product marketing at Alchemer. Bagnato is passionate about products that make a genuine impact on a customer’s day-to-day business so they can experience true value from their investment. She takes pride in with connecting with customers, hearing their stories, and ensuring they are taking advantage of the platform’s powerful products and features. Prior to joining Alchemer, she was VP of product marketing for a mobile laser measurement and data collection solution.