By Carolyn Hall, Product Marketing Manager, Confirmit.
It is no longer a newsflash that customer experience has a direct impact on the bottom line. When you improve customer experiences, you can increase customer retention, drive more customer referrals, and reduce costs.
Many companies are setting aside huge budgets to put in place a Customer Experience Management (CEM) programme in order to reduce churn rates and increase customer advocacy, but big budgets demand big returns and those don’t come easy. The key to success is finding out what you are doing well and where you are failing to meet customer expectations.
This might sound simple but with multiple sales and service channels, different regional offices, and varying touchpoints in the customer relationship, there are a variety of different experiences to measure.
Incorporating the ‘Voice of the Customer’ into every facet of your CEM programme will ensure that your business is not operating in a customer feedback vacuum and will make it much easier to fix what needs fixing.
How can you incorporate the Voice of the Customer into a successful CEM programme?
1. Understand existing experiences.
Business processes are designed to support your company internally, but you need to understand if they’re putting up barriers to purchase, confusing customers, or simply making life more difficult for somebody who’s trying to do business with you.
Large companies, particularly those which have grown through acquisition, have a myriad of processes which impact customers and without asking customers about their experiences, you may be operating counter-productive processes. Begin by building up a picture of what you’re doing now in order to create a list of the areas in which you can improve.
2. Look at all your channels.
The customer experience is not a distinct entity. There are Moments of Truth throughout the customer lifecycle, and different customers will use different channels at different times. With most businesses operating online, by telephone, in retail stores, and increasingly through mobile devices, getting a view of the customer experience is not as simple as analyzing a single channel. For example, your contact centre agents may offer the best experiences in the industry, but that doesn’t benefit customers who choose to use your Web site, which might be badly designed and unreliable. Do an audit of all your customer touchpoints and decide which will be the simplest to measure, once you’ve gained some quick wins, you’ll build some momentum to work on other channels.
3. Find out who your customers are.
When customers are unhappy with experiences, only a fraction of them will actually complain, leaving you unaware and them to complain about you to their friends. In many cases, these experiences can be rectified by getting back in touch with the customer and putting things right quickly. But to do that, you need to know who they are and what you did wrong.
Again, without the Voice of the Customer coming into your company, you can’t get back to them to resolve problems. Not only do you slow down the process of continual improvement, but you continue to disappoint people along the way. Tie customer feedback to individual interactions and try to ensure all the customer information is in one place so you can get back in touch with all the information you need at your fingertips.
4. Drive change to your customer culture.
A successful CEM program must involve employees at all levels of the business, and should change the way in which your employees interact with, and think about your customers. Simply fiddling with processes in an attempt to improve an experience will not engage your employees.
That means it won’t change your organizational culture and create a stronger customer focus. Employees may adhere to new processes but that’s not about engaging them with customers, it’s about pressing a different button during the interaction. Employees become far more involved in the customer experience when they hear real feedback attached to real interactions.
Encourage employees to make suggestions of ways you can improve your business, based on the feedback they see. Making a difference is a real motivator because it demonstrates the impact that each person has on the way your business operates.
5. Prepare to rethink your plans.
Identifying ways in which you can enhance the customer experience is only one step. The effects of the changes you make might not be quite what you intended. It may resolve one problem, but create three more. It might confuse customers or force them into channels they’re not comfortable with.
Failing to maintain an ongoing dialogue with customers prevents you from getting insight into what you’re achieving. The Voice of the Customer is not a moment frozen in time, it must be treated as a conversation that provides value in the long term, and which gives you the ability to say “This hasn’t worked. Let’s try something else.”
Create feedback reports which allow you to track your key customer metrics over time so you can easily identify cause and effect and make changes as required.
Capturing the ‘Voice of the Customer’ with a sophisticated customer feedback solution will provide businesses with real insight into customer experience and possible future behaviour by asking customers if they are happy with the service or product received.
It will increase the opportunity to resolve any issues and to improve customer retention by acting upon the feedback received and letting the customer know that their voice has been heard.
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