The five pillars of a mature voice-of-the-customer program
Chris Breslin has five steps for fine-tuning your voice of the customer program to ensure it drives business value and keeps your key stakeholders on board.
At the heart of any meaningful customer experience venture is a well-designed and carefully implemented voice-of-the-customer (VoC) program.
But no VoC program magically appears at the centre of an organisation, fully-grown and ready to go, no matter how much planning went into it.
A VoC program operates at multiple levels and, at any given time, all its various elements are progressing at slightly different speeds and with slightly different trajectories.
Just like children, some talk before they walk; others walk before they talk and some skip crawling altogether.
Knowing where you are with each element is vital before you can plan the next steps for your program to ensure you drive business value and keep your key stakeholders on board for the long haul.
Five facets of maturity
To really follow the development of your program, think of it as having five facets of maturity; then draw a ‘growth chart’, like the one below, to trace the evolution of each of the different elements.
They may seem to be at a similar stage but some areas are likely to have evolved more quickly than others.
By visualising each step of your program’s progress, you can establish the key areas to focus on.
1. Program vision
Your VoC program must be linked to your organisation’s key business priorities. The trick is not to do everything in the first year but to create a roadmap as a guide to a future program. Ensure that you have a clear strategy but plan carefully so you can take one step at a time and make sure you’ve got each step right. Take time to tweak when necessary.
- What does maturity look like? Vision is about knowing what you’re setting out to achieve and having a plan to get there. Maturity here doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ve rolled out every stage of your program. It’s important to make sure that your vision is tangible and linked to business objectives. Simply saying you’ll provide better customer experiences isn’t enough!
You must design your program for two audiences; the business and the customer. For the business, it must be relevant, robust and prioritised. For the customer, it’s vital they feel you are going to do something with the data. You need to be clear about what you are asking and why with a consistent approach across touchpoints to allow the business to prioritise key actions.
- What does maturity look like? This is often an area which starts well – it’s an obvious element, but languishes once things are up and running. A A mature program will continue to deliver to both audiences and the business over the long term, evolving to meet the changing needs of your internal and external customers.
It is important to tell a story and bring the customer to life across the business. A VoC program can provide actionable, engaging information about customers that can be actively shared with all employees, empowering staff to use the data and suggest action that could be taken. In the example above, this company – like many – needs to focus on this area to move the program forward.
- What does maturity look like? In the early stages, activities like customer journey mapping are a great way to engage your business. It helps employees take ownership and provides a clear path forward. Mature models will have a structure in place to review and amend such maps, and a clear communication strategy (role-based reporting, internal events and social media programs) to share results and successes. To keep your executive team engaged ensure they have a clear view of the ROI you are generating and how actions are delivering business change.
Action is what VoC is all about – and you must shout about early results because the challenge comes as your program matures and those quick wins are over. Big wins in the later stages of a VoC program aren’t impossible, but they’re harder to come by because they’re often more long-term, strategic changes that take time to implement. To ensure you’re able to uncover what those longer term actions are, you’ll need to harness advanced and predictive analytics.
- What does maturity look like? Maturity here is about the impact. While you may have made a dozen business changes in the initial year of your program, a more mature program will deliver real process re-engineering opportunities and transformational business change. A mature program will have a well-established process for closing the loop with customers when it comes to taking tactical action, as well as a more strategic approach using advanced analytics for root-cause analysis.
5. Business value
When you design your program, you will set expectations on how you plan to deliver value. For example, by reducing the churn rate by 10% by following up with unhappy customers and resolving their issues, you could increase revenue by $500K p.a. As your program evolves and matures, you’ll not only need to deliver on those projections, but continue to seek out new ways to deliver value across the company. Again, in the example shown, this is an area where more focus is required in order to ensure continued investment and support from the leadership team.
- What does maturity look like? A mature program should be so embedded within the organisation’s DNA that the value it provides is unquestionable – but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be able to quantify it! The value you provide should be clear on several levels, including financial and operational, which you can achieve in the early and middle-stages of the program. A really mature program will also deliver demonstrable cultural value.
Chris Breslin is manager, Australia and New Zealand at Confirmit
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