Our panel of experts share their thoughts on how you can bolster your Voice of the Customer (VoC) program and obtain more actionable feedback.
1. Ask Less to Learn More
If you’re sincere about understanding your customers’ experience in your contact centre, stop asking them so many questions.
You’ll get more responses to very short surveys that get straight to the heart of the matter. And short surveys express your respect for your customers’ time. A three-question survey isn’t too short. A six-question survey is probably too long.
So how can you avoid survey fatigue?
Don’t limit your VOC program to surveys: For example, use speech analytics to reveal the feedback lurking in your recorded calls, and let interaction data tell you what behaviour says about customer experience.
Design surveys with the end in mind: Never ask a question until you know how you will display and distribute results, and who will be responsible for taking action based on customer answers.
Be specific – very specific: Customers are more likely to respond to questions that carefully target their particular experience. Consider separate surveys – short ones! – for separate interactions.
2. Get Caught Being a Good Listener
The best way to encourage continued feedback is to make it obvious that you are listening and then doing something about what you hear. A robust customer communication program can help here, but often, it’s best to get personal with individual follow-up.
We all know the feeling that the feedback we provide is disappearing into a void. The way to stand out from the crowd is by triggering personalized follow-up when certain responses are received or critical metrics hit a concerning level.
The practice, called closing the loop, works for three reasons: It demonstrates your commitment to the customer experience, resolves individual problems, and gives you greater insight into the issues that drag down your customer experience.
Your closed-loop process can vary by customer. How fast you respond, who does the follow-up, and even the means of contacting the customer can depend on the type of feedback received, as well as characteristics of the customer or account.
You might assign an advisor, a manager, or even an executive to reach out. Just be sure you have VOC procedures that can automate the alert process and monitor progress.
Thanks to Shawna Malecki at NICE inContact
3. Think What, When and Where
What – Ask the right questions, in line with your key customer service targets and goals. The questions should be carefully considered and specific or you’ll elicit vague answers that can’t be actioned.
Start with what it is you want to achieve with the set of questions in order to hone them. Then make the experience of answering them easy for the customer or they may be put off.
Always be clear, concise and ask questions that are relevant. Test your questions on a small sample group before sending the rest out.
When – Check your questions are timely for your customers, so that they’ll be well received and more likely to be answered properly.
You could provide a simple box with one or two easy questions on your site if you want something that’s available at all times. Just ensure, before you ask customers directly, that you are prepared and ready to action the answers.
Where – Consider where your customers are most likely to be receptive to answering your questions – a phone call? An emailed survey? Your website? A text link?
To gain a full picture, you might need to use more than one method of collecting feedback.
4. Conduct Feedback Reviews
Assign the right staff to acting on feedback and ensure they’re able to “own” and be accountable for the task.
It might be all feedback starts with one team whose job it is to process feedback daily and then share it with the appropriate person in your organization to respond to the customer.
Have a standard timeframe for responding and regular reviews to ensure the system is working and that all feedback is assessed…
Have a standard timeframe for responding and regular reviews to ensure the system is working and that all feedback is assessed, as what may be perceived as a minor problem could escalate if ignored.
Log all feedback so that over time you can build a picture of how well your customer feedback program is performing and finally ensure you have a proper annual review to make the program the best it can be.
5. Utilize Call and Screen Recordings
Utilizing call and screen recording on every channel your customers use makes it easier to monitor and act on all communications.
Even if your ‘conversations’ are carried out omnichannel – webchat to email to telephone call etc. – you can record them as part of your quality management monitoring.
Then you can play back recordings and either action them individually or use them to see ‘trends’ – issues that crop up time and again – that need tackling.
These daily insights will allow you to provide a more consistent quality approach to feedback.
Thanks to Ken Reid at Rostrvm Solutions
6. Listen to Your Advisors as They Respond to Customers
While listening to your customer is the core of any VoC program, analysing your advisor responses to particular customer queries can help to improve your customer experience.
If you listen to the reasons why agents utter phrases such as “I am unable to”, “we are not allowed to” or “our policy prohibits”, they can often be an indicator of a broken process or system.
For example, if you listen to the reasons why agents utter phrases such as “I am unable to”, “we are not allowed to” or “our policy prohibits”, they can often be an indicator of a broken process or system.
Evaluate these processes to see if they can be improved to empower agents to solve customer problems.
Also, use this language to uncover knowledge gaps among your agents. If an advisor uses this language often, a targeted coaching or knowledge session may help boost their performance.
7. Tune Into Ratings and Reviews on Third-Party Sites
Collect and interpret feedback from TripAdvisor, Yelp, Google Reviews and other websites for insights into customer preferences, concerns and sentiment.
Customers turn to these channels before making purchase decisions and it’s important to monitor what customers like or don’t like about your offerings.
Alongside this, it’s important to closely monitor your internal complaint channels – for the same reason.
If you are regulated by a consumer bureau or if complaints impact you in terms of financial compensation from the government, it is critical to monitor all your complaint channels.
Consumers also often turn to these channels to compare and evaluate offerings.
8. Don’t Forget About Your 360-Degree View of the Customer
Enhance your VoC program with technology that can measure all your customer feedback in a uniform way across all your channels.
Tie as many of these sources together using a common customer identifier and create a detailed “single view” of your customer.
Once you have this view, you can empower your advisors to interact better with your customers, develop robust “next best action” strategies, reduce churn and increase revenues per customer.
In fact, contact centres that have implemented this single view successfully can understand:
- How every single customer has interacted with them in the past
- What their areas of interest are
- How they feel emotionally toward your brand
- What their propensity to churn or buy more will be
Thanks to Shorit Ghosh at Clarabridge
9. Try Direct Observation to See How Customers Interact With Your Products/Services
Direct observation is an important part of any well-planned ‘Voice of the Customer’ program. For virtual products and services, and even for tangible products, try to watch/track how customers interact with your offerings.
Plus, internally, your customer service team can provide vital anecdotal evidence and real-life scenarios that help identify areas of success, as well as potential customer experience blockers.
While customer surveys are a great way to get feedback, make sure to use additional methods like this to obtain wider perspectives.
Think about focus groups, interviews and other methods of direct feedback – all hugely useful and often a richer source of intelligence.
Thanks to Brent Bischoff at Business Systems
10. Engage the Wider Business With Your VoC Program
When creating your VoC program it’s essential that you involve the wider business and ensure key stakeholder engagement.
Where VoC initiatives usually fail is when they operate in isolation, which typically results in a disconnect between the Voice of the Business (VoB) and the VoC – which causes friction that creates tension and conflict between other departments and business units.
For this program to succeed it’s imperative that both VoB and VoC are fully aligned and working together towards the same goals.
I would always recommend splitting your project and responsibilities into four distinct areas. These are:
But for now, let’s focus on this second step…
11. Consider the Following When Gathering Customer Information
The team responsible for managing step two has a big task ahead of them and it’s essential that they are able to identify and acquire relevant, topical and accurate information about the customer.
It’s this customer information and feedback collected that will influence the direction of the business and prioritize improvement projects.
Therefore, to ensure maximum value and benefit, there are four things to keep in mind when reviewing this data.
- Is your product or service fit for purpose?
- What are your features?
- What are your customers wants and needs?
- What are your customers’ needs, wants and seen as amazing?
It is important to ensure that each of these four questions is addressed in your VoC program in order to gather maximum insight into your customers’ perspectives.
Thanks to Darren Gracie at GCI
12. Mine Chat Transcripts
Survey responses are a great source of insight, but by surveying customers you will likely only ever hear from the very happy and the very unhappy. Gathering the thoughts of the “silent majority” is more tricky.
For example, you can mine call recordings or chat transcripts for insights, by analysing those interactions, and the right (Voice of the Customer) VoC solution can also listen to customers’ behaviour or tone.
By combining different sources of feedback (direct answers to survey questions, gleaning insights from service interactions and letting your customers’ actions speak to you), you’ll have the most complete VoC program in town.
Thanks to Richard Burns at NICE
13. Ask the Contact Centre Team to Relay Additional Information
If you really want to improve your VoC program, then the best thing to do is to actively listen to your customers, a job which advisors do day-in, day-out.
Advisors will hold lots of interesting perspectives, passed on to them directly from customers, which they have heard multiple times but are often neglected, as customers don’t “formally” bring up the issue.
So, by creating advisor feedback mechanisms – such as focus groups, community pages and surveys – you can gain even greater insight into customer issues.
Another way you can do this is by using speech analytics to “listen in on” 100% of advisor–customer conversations and spot key trends.
Thanks to Frank Sherlock at CallMiner
14. Create a Community Portal
With 88% of consumers expecting brands and organizations to have online self-service support, a community portal can form a key component of your customer success strategy. It can also be an excellent way to determine which product features and changes should be prioritized.
When developing a portal, it’s important to always listen to what customers are requesting, adapting it around their needs and requirements.
You might consider giving customers the ability to suggest ideas, raise and vote on product enhancements, implement discussions, allowing them to ask for advice from other customers and internal solution experts.
Thanks to Artur Michalczyk at NewVoiceMedia
15. Focus on Driving the VoC Into Other Areas of the Organization
In the always-on economy, consumers expect lower prices, better service and good value, which is why customer experience is more important than at any other time.
With the right VoC program in place, businesses can truly differentiate themselves – so it’s well worth the time and effort to connect with customers.
But the success of a VoC program lies in implementing a business-wide strategy. By providing clarity on the aims of the program and going beyond a single business unit, businesses can ensure they are delivering the best possible customer service.
To achieve this, it is important to get buy-in from the whole organization, from leadership all the way through to contact centre advisors.
Thanks to Sunny Dhami at RingCentral
For more from our panel of experts, read our articles:
- An Introduction to… Voice of the Customer Technology
- How Can I Make My Contact Centre Customer-Centric?
- The Best Questions to Ask on a Contact Centre Survey
For more on this particular topic of better understanding your customers, read our article: Understanding Your Customers: 5 Practical Techniques