In my own experience as a VoC manager, the company-wide engagement my team facilitated was instrumental in keeping our largest (and highly influential) customer from defecting, even though this customer’s CEO stated his intention to switch suppliers.
We influenced dozens of teams each year to follow through on their CX improvement action plans. And we inspired dozens more to strive for issue recurrence prevention and issue occurrence prevention, and to help the rest of the company borrow lessons learned through our highly visible team recognition program.
Our company’s teams saved customers massive time and costs, and in turn, we saved ourselves substantial time and costs. These were contributors to many aspects of financial growth, as shown by these examples:
- Sales Velocity: 16X reduction in customers’ time for service, $1M savings monthly to the customer, 10X increase in customer productivity, exceeded customer expectations by 75%
- Earnings Per Share: 23X reduction in cycle time from 5 days to 5 hours
- Return on Assets: 6X improvement in trouble-shooting cycle time, 80% reduction in engineers’ learning cycle time, 75% reduction in customer-reported bugs/issues
Expectations VoC & Realities VoC
Over time, I gained tremendous appreciation for this model, which separates voice of customer into Expectations VoC and Realities VoC:
This model recognizes that salaries, budgets, and dividends come from customers. It respects the fact that business success depends on meeting or exceeding customer expectations.
Recognizing customers as the source of your company’s ongoing existence, crystalize your understanding of customers’ expectations as performance standards for every group across your company’s ecosystem. When each manager in your company understands how their performance affects customers, they’re empowered to prevent customer issues. This is a much smarter and vastly less expensive way to run your business!
Use your Expectations VoC to educate all facets of your business in their performance standards. This is how customer-centricity is built. And it’s how massive waste is avoided.
Through robust Expectations VoC, your Realities VoC can be reduced greatly, minimizing the burden on customers and CX budget.
Natural byproducts of this diagram’s formula are churn reduction, upselling, cross-selling, referrals, and acquisition cost reduction. Rather than committing sizeable funding in perpetuity to recovering from missteps, your expectations VoC educates managers in preventing missteps in the first place. Accordingly, your brand will have a greater magnetic attraction to both new and renewing customers. They’ll naturally want to refer others to your brand and buy more as your brand stands out in customer experience excellence (i.e. issue prevention).
Expectations and perceptions are moving targets, as new forces arise in any influencer’s chain of command, economics, politics, performance trends, external and internal requirements, and so forth. For this reason, an ongoing systematic approach is needed in both Expectations VoC and Realities VoC.
Expectations VOC is different from typical Realities VoC. Expectations are usually captured through comments. Make use of data you already have before asking customers for their precious time. Data you have on-hand is what one of my colleagues calls “cash in the attic”.
Buying Influencers: Many parties within a B2B firm influence buying decisions. Make sure your Expectations VoC collects information about each of these parties. What are their pressures? How is their success measured? What do they care about regarding your solution (product/service)? What are their workarounds when your solution doesn’t satisfy them?
Core-Growth Customers: Some customers are more profitable than others. And some customers are growing faster than others. Your company’s growth is dependent to a large extent on certain customers expanding their purchases. You can’t please everyone equally, so don’t dilute your CX performance by trying too hard too early with non-core-growth customers. A the same time, beware of instigating negative word-of-mouth among any customers.
Get a thorough understanding of your core-growth customers’ needs and do all you can to outperform your customers’ alternatives (your competitors and other substitutes), so you’ll be the clear choice for this customer group. As your bandwidth expands, you can extend your CX efforts to other customer groups.
Almost-Free VoC: There are many ways customers initiate comments to your company. Typical sources are your contact center, customer success teams, your website, industry communities/websites, symposiums, trade shows, and informal conversations with your employees and partners.
The casual comments made by customers during these interactions can be far more valuable than what’s captured in your Realities VoC. EMC and Dell created a mobile app for employees and partners to send customer comments to a central database.
To harvest almost-free VoC, invest in text-mining, voice-mining, and/or video-mining technologies for making use of what customers have already told you.
Outside Sources: Customers’ intended outcomes may be well researched already by your R&D group, your sales team, and/or your customer success department. Mine studies by Marketing, Advertising, and Public Relations for new insights and for adjusting your VoC methodologies and reporting. Go beyond industry studies’ quantitative findings for inspiration from qualitative content from any customers or spectators.
Digital Body Language: Customers’ digital body language can be as revealing as what they vocalize. Analytics applications can find patterns across the Internet of Things. When you combine all sources of customer data, you can paint a richer picture of what customers expect.
As needed, broaden and deepen your understanding through primary qualitative research, such as executive listening sessions, in-depth interviews, focus groups, user groups, and/or customer advisory boards.
See the full original article for more about VoC Roadblocks, VoC Maturity and Realities VoC: How B2B Voice of the Customer Maturity Drives Growth.