Who are your favorite companies, and what makes you brand loyal? People typically answer this question based on how well a business understands and meets their needs. Buying decisions go way beyond price as we often pay a higher cost to shop at a particular place.
Consider coffee, for example. Customers, including me, spend triple the price at Starbucks compared to other local coffee shops. Why would we pay more money on purpose? The reason is that the most reputable brands, like Starbucks, proactively LISTEN to the voice of customer (VoC) and use feedback to deliver personalized experiences that exceed customer expectations.
Research proves the value of doing CX right, such as a study conducted by PWC. People were asked: “How much would you pay for the following product or service if the company provides a great customer experience?” As shown in the image below, the answer is a lot, and getting it right is real!
Best in class companies also care about employee views and empowers their staff to deliver customer excellence. Their competitive edge comes from humanizing business, and you can apply the same principles no matter where you work.
THREE WAYS TO DIFFERENTIATE YOUR BRAND
#1. Leverage Voice of Customer (VoC) In Everything You Do
VoC is a valuable research method that enables you to understand the difference between customer expectations and how well you deliver what they need. Even if you believe there is no gap, your customer may think differently, and you must know that to adapt your strategies. Customer perception is YOUR reality.
Asking customers about their overall satisfaction level helps you gauge the likelihood of them continuing to purchase and recommend your products and services. Getting high-level feedback is good, but the magic happens when you dig deep into the customer journey. I highly recommend you ask customers to rate their experiences and provide comments about EVERY interaction point, commonly referred to as “moments of truth.”
If you have not launched a business and do not have customers yet, then co-create a journey map with your target audiences (also referred to as personas). There are plenty of resources on the internet to guide you through the process, including my blog, DoingCXRight. My point is that getting Voice of Customer feedback in the right way and at the right time is essential for business success.
Most people rely on surveys as their Voice fo Customer source. While valuable, it must not be your only method of getting customer feedback. Additional useful data comes from:
- Website contact forms
- Interviews (online and in-person)
- Social media
- Ratings and Reviews (on your site & external rating pages)
- Website visitor behavior analytics
- Customer Care Call Data
- Website Live Chat
I recommend aggregating and centralizing all VoC insights to understand your customers’ views from a holistic perspective. It’s a critical job function, so either assign the role in your organization to someone who has the right skill sets, or outsource the work.
Step 2: Turn Voice of Customer Data into Actionable Insights
Obtaining customer feedback and analyzing the data takes time, but it is well worth it. You can’t possibly develop products, services, and market messages without understanding what your customers think and feel.
There are tools to help you compile, analyze, and prioritize data so that you know where to focus your improvement efforts. If you have minimal or no budget, then start with manual methods of collecting customer feedback and using the data to inform your business decisions and changes.
#3: Close the Loop With Customers
If you ask customers what they think, then inform them about the actions you took because of their feedback. For example, if you lead a focus group to design a new product, follow up with participants to show what you created because of their input. Even better, offer a discount that is not available to the public to express appreciation. If you have a centralized survey team, who calls customers share recordings and notes with your sales teams so they can contact customers, rectify issues, and thank them, too.
THE GAME CHANGER
Top performing companies combine Voice of Employee (VoE) and Voice of Customer (VoC) as part of their decision-making process. Asking employees for feedback makes them feel heard and valued. And, when that happens, their commitment and engagement to deliver customer satisfaction increases. Happy employees fuel happy customers. That is the formula for Customer Experience (CX) success.
15 Customer Experience Best Practices:
- Ask employees for feedback as it serves as a valuable data source, but VoE must never replace VoC.
- Respect customer intelligence. People know when companies are claiming to be customer-centric but are actually “checking a box.”
- Make the feedback process easy and convenient. Provide options such as calling, texting, or emailing.
- Improve your customer journey based on both qualitative and quantitative data. A smile or frown by itself does not reveal much. Learn the “WHY” and “WHO” factors.
- Thank people for their time in giving feedback. Inform what you’ll do with their input. Communication and gratitude go a long way.
- Actively listen. Do not sound like a robot or reading from a survey script.
- Personalize your customer communications. You will gain better response rates.
- Choose your questions wisely. If you don’t ask correctly, you won’t get actionable answers.
- Capture feedback often. Customer and employee needs are changing rapidly.
- Listen to what customers say across different channels. Improve experiences based on a 360 view.
- Share feedback results with internal stakeholders. It helps drive a culture where everyone owns CX.
- Knowledge is power. Do not let the fear of responses be a reason you do not ask for feedback.
- Assess satisfaction & establish benchmarks for year over year comparisons. You cannot fix what you do not measure.
- Recruit and hire customer-centric individuals to achieve your CX mission. It’s all about people!
- Create a culture where EVERYONE owns CX and is accountable for customer excellence, not just leaders at the top.
Proactively ask for feedback and use the insights to improve customer and employee experiences. Let customers know what changes occurred because of their input, as that is how you gain loyal brand advocates. It costs a lot of time and resources to make up for one unhappy experience. I can’t say it enough…. Customer Experience must be intentional and never an afterthought. Make sure you are NOT just TALKING about it but actually doing CX right!
Stacy Sherman is a Certified Customer Experience pioneer, author, speaker, Forbes writer, podcaster and Founder of DoingCXRight. She has spent her career working at companies of all sizes where she increases loyalty, retention, employee engagement, and overall customer satisfaction. Stacy is helping others apply her proven ‘Heart & Science’ framework to differentiate brands by DOING, not just talking about CX, so that REAL human connections and happiness exist while exceeding business goals.