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Ex-Google CEO Eric Schmidt said, “And the customer has a voice; Provide a bad product or lousy service at your peril.”

Every executive head in an organization should prioritize the voice of customer programs. After being coined for the first time in a 1993-MIT Marketing Science paper, it all came down to what the leadership approach should be toward Voice of Customer (VoC) programs. 

In a Clootrack study, Greg Melia - CEO, Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA), said, “The first element of customer experience success is the leadership decision to strive for a best-in-class customer experience.” 

No matter how innovative your VoC program is, without leadership support, it’s bound to experience functional setbacks. Leadership in voice of customer programs is essential for establishing a customer-focused culture and inspiring internal teams to follow in their footsteps. 

For instance, if team leaders under the hierarchical funnel are not aware of the purpose behind VoC surveys and campaigns, it’s not going to send a good message out there. Customers create a more positive opinion of your brand only when they see that the company's management cares about developing a customer-focused culture. 

So, how can executive leaders drive Voice of Customer outcomes for business growth? Let’s find out.

How to Align Voice of Customer with Business Objectives?

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Between understanding what VoC means and leveraging results out of it, you should know why it’s so important and how you can implement it for business growth. As an executive leader, you can align Voice of Customer strategies with your business objectives by ensuring a 6-step action plan:

1. Identify business needs for insights

Before knowing what kind of VoC data you should target, it’s more important to identify your business needs first. Primarily, data generated through a VoC program can provide you with critical customer insights for five major business needs: 

  • Retention
  • Revenue
  • Cost Optimization
  • Competitive Advantage
  • Employee Satisfaction 

We’ll dive deeper into this but first, let’s see step 2 of the action plan!

2. Assess the data collection methods

Customer surveys, focus groups, voice and text analytics, online reviews, and online community forums are some of the best examples of VoC data collection methods. However, every technique comes with its own set of pros and cons. Hence, you should examine the benefits and drawbacks of various data collection methods to discover which ones best suit your business objectives and provide the most significant insights.

3. Collect customer feedback data

Once you’ve evaluated and picked the right data collection methods, you should focus on generating customer feedback data. Collecting feedback via surveys, interviews, focus groups, and social listening can help you pinpoint areas where your company falls short of meeting customers' expectations. This ensures that your teams are heading in the right direction.

4. Analyze data as per planned metrics

Analyze customer feedback to see if tactics for aligning VoC objectives with business imperatives are enhancing profitability. During Voice of Customer analysis, any improvements you make should be tracked regularly. 

5. Measure the success potential of the VoC program

With a more holistic picture provided by customer feedback, you can prioritize targeted improvements that can produce result-oriented improvements. Measure the capability of your VoC program and make use of analytical dashboards to generate progress reports to share among other executive heads and team leaders.

6. Act on the VoC data to accomplish business objectives

Now that you’ve measured it - you already know where your actions are required the most. Increase the effectiveness of your Voice of Customer program by translating insights into new business achievements for boosting customer experience. 

After analyzing tons of VoC feedback data, you can uncover major areas that allow you to classify customers into distinct corrective initiatives that help improve relationships. Ultimately, improvement and implementation is the best way forward to accomplish your business objectives.

Business Objectives Leaders Want to Achieve From Voice of Customer Programs 

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Going back to the objectives, lets elaborate more on the Voice of Customer (VoC) programs that help fulfill 5 main business objectives:

1. Achieving a Higher Customer Retention Ratio

Voice of Customer program benefits include tremendous improvements in your customer retention rates. It helps you boost customer loyalty by listening to what your customers say, addressing it, acting on it, and closing the loop.

VoC Metrics to Understand Customer Loyalty

VoC provides insights related to the customer’s choice and expectations from your deliverables, along with the reasons behind negative experiences or choosing your competitors. As executive leaders, it’s pivotal for you to seek specific VoC data sets that can actually contribute to bettering customer loyalty. 

For example:

  • What’s the best thing about your business that customers like?
  • Why do customers choose your product/service despite other options?
  • Why do they buy or not buy your product/service repeatedly?

2. Generating Greater Revenue

Although there’s a straight line between customer satisfaction and business performance, the value of VoC is that it clarifies opportunities for profit growth. Any successful VoC program needs to deliver returns to the business, so it’s essential to go in with an ROI mindset and focus everything from your measurements and metrics to the actions and improvements you put in place on what they’ll deliver back to the business.

VoC Metrics to Study Financial Tenets of Your Business

VoC programs provide insights related to new potential products, the scope of product improvement, profitability, and so on. However, which VoC metrics should you focus on keeping in mind your revenue-based objectives? Well, that directly brings us to factors like market share, time invested, and the ROI. 

For example:

  • What kind of marketing strategies drive greater customer engagement?
  • Are your products or services fulfilling customer needs and expectations?
  • How can you resort to upselling and cross-selling initiatives?

3. Optimizing Your Customer Service Costs

VoC programs help reassess customer service costs – how and where the money is spent. Cost optimization becomes an ongoing discipline that identifies, assesses, and prioritizes customer information - only where it’s worth it.

VoC Metrics to Analyze Cost to Serve

VoC helps evaluate customer effort, insufficiency in processes, and areas in customer journeys that need improvement. Therefore, the need of the hour is to rely on metrics that matter.

For example:

  • Which are the most important touchpoints in the customer journey?
  • Which are the superfluous points of interactions where customer effort can be reduced?
  • How well are your digital customer care channels performing?
  • “How is your business serving the customers?” vs “What do the customers expect?”

4. Benchmarking Against Other Industry Leaders

In order to stand out from the rest, it’s crucial to interpret the lacking points and shortcomings compared to your market counterparts.This is where benchmarking can help. However, only the right questions can bring you solid VoC data for this objective.

VoC Metrics to Comprehend Market Competition

Voice of customer programs can fulfill your need for competitive benchmarking and improving on that. While open-ended questions are common, you should try to seek Voice of Customer feedback without sounding too desperate to know what your competitors are doing. It’s definitely a gray area and thus, you should stick to a specific set of metrics to avoid fiddling with customer perceptions.

For example:

  • Does any new technology in the market supersede your product/service value?
  • Do your competitors have better ways of serving their customers?
  • What kind of brand narrative and tonality do your competitors have?

5. Boosting Employee Engagement

Buffer does not have a customer support team - it has the Happiness Team! That’s how it plans to keep the customer care processes lively (pun intended) among its employees - by using a little appreciation. There are hundreds of such examples where brands are equally focused on improving employee engagement in lines with their VoC initiatives.

Smarter Voice of Customer methodologies also mean that your employees will engage more willingly. Leadership support in VoC programs helps in guiding your teams on a highly optimized road map - one that makes their lives easier while serving the purpose. Hence, well-planned VoC strategies help you fulfill your employee engagement objectives.

VoC Metrics to Identify Improvement Opportunities Among Teams

Your Voice of Customer program should tap on issues such as what customers feel about your business representatives.

For example:

  • Which employees are loved by your customers and why’s it so?
  • Where can you improve customer experience while ensuring your employee interests?
  • How does the idea of a happy workforce affect customer mindsets?

5 Best Practices Leaders Can Leverage for VoC Programs

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Executive leaders can leverage these 5 Voice of Customer best practices to serve their business objectives:

1. Voice of Customer Template

Creating a voice of customer template is an underlying requisite for ensuring program efficiency. Depending on your key business objectives, you should prepare a VoC template consisting of what areas to cover, why they should be covered, where they can be covered, and when you should act on the results. As an executive leader, it falls under your purview to ensure your teams have sufficient 101 material about the VoC programs.

2. Omni-Channel VoC Feedback Data

The accuracy and breadth of customer insights are hampered by the fact that many organizations only use one or two channels to measure and optimize their interactions with customers. In the absence of an omnichannel feedback tool, Voice of Customer programs may result in insufficient data about customer preferences, behavior, and satisfaction. 

3. Cross-Division of VoC Strategies

Different departments must participate in obtaining, analyzing, and acting on the insights to develop effective VoC programs. Using action planning tools, cross-departmental collaboration ought to be simple yet effective.

4. Voice of Employee (VoE)  

Understanding VoE is one of the least considered practices as it usually gets overshadowed by conventional business goals. However, it’s also one of the best practices for VoC programs, keeping in mind the insights you get from your teams regarding what’s working and what needs to be improved.

Connect the employee and customer experiences to gain a thorough understanding of what is actually happening and why. Your organization will be better able to grasp how employee engagement affects the bottom line if you are aware of this connection.

5. Voice of Customer Tools

You can make sense of what's happening in your company with effective Voice of Customer tools. A platform that lets you customize dashboards for each function and provide pertinent insights for the proper audience is what you need. Moreover, you should leverage CX analytical tools powered with real-time reporting and VoC management features.

5 Best Examples of Voice of Customer 

Here are the Top 5 Voice of Customer Examples across different verticals:

Lawley for Customer Retention

Lawley, a New York-based insurance agency, developed a Voice of Customer program to collect customer feedback using NPS (net promoter score) questionnaires. They used relationship NPS surveys to assess customers' overall perceptions of their brand, allowing them to compare their NPS scores across areas. 

As a result, the firm was able to uncover a variety of concerns along the customer journey. They used this data to identify pain areas and follow up with customers on their complaints before losing a huge number of accounts. VoC assisted Lawley in improving customer service and reducing customer attrition.

Ritz-Carlton for Employee Engagement

“I am empowered to create unique, memorable and personal experiences for our guests,” one of the Ritz-service Carlton's values states. The organization recognizes that empowering its workforce with decision-making authority is the greatest approach to delivering on these goals.

As a result, without seeking approval from a supervisor, any employee can spend up to $2,000 per visitor, per day, to resolve a problem. When faced with a problem, employees are allowed to do what seems best at the time.

Employees that are empowered recognize that their decisions contribute to the company's success, and as a result, they care more about their work. The ability to take initiative and express originality without seeking permission from management gives individuals a sense of pride in their job.

Subbly for Product Improvement

Subbly is a subscription-only e-commerce company that utilizes VoC to successfully refine its products. Subbly accomplished this by establishing an online feedback website for its customers. They frequently conduct pricing surveys to learn how customers feel about their subscription programs. Subbly can shape its product roadmap and pick which features to deploy by constantly gathering data to hear its customers' voices.

Microsoft for Customer Satisfaction

Microsoft made significant upgrades to the accounts and billing functionality for Bing advertisers in 2015. According to Microsoft, Bing marketers "particularly requested [the modifications]." 

Furthermore, Microsoft was praised in 2016 for listening to the needs of Windows 10 users who wanted to be notified of the contents of every operating system update. Microsoft eventually revealed a new policy by launching a new webpage dedicated to methodically announcing what is in each new version.

Automattic (WordPress) for Customer Engagement

Automattic, the company behind the world's most popular CMS, WordPress, is clearly in tune with its growing user base's wants and requirements. They encourage developers and designers to report bugs, start tickets with suggestions, and provide code snippets for future versions. 

WordPress 4.9, for example, was made possible by 443 independent contributors, with 185 of them making their first contribution. That includes the customer's voice. Also, Automattic conducts an annual WordPress User Survey to collect large-scale feedback and suggestions.

The Key Takeaways

Creating a customer-centric culture begins at the top. Without the contribution of leadership in VoC programs, every customer-centric program has a minimal chance of being successful. Your VoC vision should be specific so that everyone in the organization understands the common purpose. Begin by concentrating on the language and messaging you'll use to communicate your vision.

A customer-centric company's long-term success depends on an engaged staff. Cross-functional collaboration and synergy will result in more impactful and successful customer efforts as workers become more engaged. 

A methodical approach to monitoring and gathering consumer feedback is critical to improving the entire experience. Because customer feedback can be obtained through many sources, any listening program must be built on a solid platform that can pivot with customers as their feedback preferences change.

As much as it pains businesses to hear this, developing a world-class customer culture is not a quick fix and the world's most successful customer-centric organizations are constructed iteratively over time.

Alignment means that all members of a firm are marching toward the same vision, and each workgroup determines what actions must be taken to assist that vision being realized. The actions refer to the quantifiable efforts performed to improve and unify customer experiences

Thus, a VoC program is a medium through which executive leaders can fulfill their business objectives and aligning them both will lead to tremendous business growth.