Yesterday, I listened to a webinar by BrightTALK hosted by Linus Gregoriadis – Research Director at Econsultancy. The webinar focused on VoC – Voice of the Customer.
“The “voice of the customer” is a process used to capture the requirements/feedback from the customer (internal or external) to provide the customers with the best in class service/product quality” (www.isixsigma.com)
Research was collated from in-depth interviews with senior marketers and ecommerce professionals across a range of brands such as Schuh, Tesco Mobile and Selfridges &Co in different sectors. When marketers where asked what the single most important opportunity for 2015 was, customer experience came up on top.
The driving focus of customer experience is explained below:
Having the power to decide how a brand can be defined. The rise of social is crucial factor as customers can now let their voice be heard on a social media platform whether they are satisfied or dissatisfied about a product or service they have received. Social media for the people by the people. Customers voice is becoming louder and tolerance is becoming less for poor performance.
Most companies don’t want to differentiate themselves with low prices but with the quality of their product and the service they provide. This helps generate great customer experience
New business with no legacy technology or under performing department can gain a competitive advantage by offering customer experience. It is also important to note being a small business more emphasis can be put on the customer and developing a mutually beneficial relationship.
With the rise of smartphones and tablets, marketers have to pay more attention on how to join things together and incorporate technology into their strategy.
Most marketers along the way realise it’s more important to retain existing customers then acquire new ones as it cost more.
Depending on a businesses’ objective a Voc (Voice of the Customer) programme can be build that will have an impact on businesses customer KPI’s such as:
The harder metrics -Increasing revenue and profitability
The softer metrics – Boosting customer loyalty and word of mouth marketing
Driving cultural change within a company
Fuelling product and service innovation
Competitive differentiation – standing out from competitors
Statistics highlighted that businesses with a healthy VoC programme decreased their customer care costs by 6.3% year on year in comparison to the peers where they experience a 2% annual increase in this cost. Companies with VoC activities increase their annual revenue by as much as 10.9% year on year.
Hard financial costs are not just the only reason for VoC programme.
Kellogg’s at work
An example of a case study by Kellogg’s highlighted a disgruntled customer Heidi Hatfield. Heidi had complained she received a sweet wrapper in her in cereal and Kellogg’s apologised. Heidi jokingly said the famous brand ambassador for Frosties, Tony the Tiger should show up at her doorstep. Although just a joke, Kellogg’s duly noted this and arranged for Tony to visit and have breakfast with Heidi. This highlighted that Kellogg’s listened to their customer, showed a gesture of goodwill and gained more social media exposure and made customer experience that more personal.
Customer feedback is essential. If you don’t learn from your customers you don’t grow, if you don’t grow you don’t learn and innovation does not develop. As Linus Gregoriadis stated, we can get feedback from various sources such as reviews, data, social media, focus groups etc., and analytics – input from different parts of the business. Hannah Brannigan -Senior VoC Manager, AXA Insurance (Direct and Partnerships) highlighted that having group discussions, conversing with other departments provides real time feedback. Feedback is not all about negatives. It’s about listening.
There are so many tools and machines that can collate data. However there is no specific one that can absorb and spread all that information collectively. As Stuart McMillan – Deputy Head of E-Commerce, Schuh highlighted , “customers are best converted by humans instead of a machine”. Customer service is not a cost. I agree with this because they are the first point of contact with the customers; they are the customers ears. By conversing with customers on a daily basis, customer service and the sales team can provide invaluable insight and this can be passed onto marketing and other teams who may work on product development and innovation.
What was summed up at the end of the webinar was these 3 points:
- Do a VoC audit – different departments within the business may or not be able to contribute
- Collect and consolidate customer feedback
- Integrate social media
- Map objectives and KPI’s and make sure they match the business agenda
- Get a joined up customer view – work in close collaboration with other departments
- Generate and break down actionable insights- look at data
- Get personal – get outside of mind-set of just broadcasted message and have a personal approach
- Centralise ownership
- Adapt and integrate – refining what you do to be more customer centric
Valid points were made in the webinar and it is also paramount to realise that customers are the lifeblood of an organisation and without them…a business would not survive.