Some quick questions to start – Did you choose when to gather feedback from customers? Did you decide how to collect it? Did you organise this around manageable insights?
If so the chances are the truly enlightening customer insights are probably still out there. These are what we define as the triple value insights.
This can happen when the Voice of the Customer programme is set up to find the evidence to support the hypothesis that certain experiences the customer encounters are not meeting a defined criteria of acceptability determined by the company, its key competitors or the sector. In other words, it’s driven by business prejudices.
However, to extract the triple value a VoC programme can deliver the programme should be constructed with the customer’s potential for commitment to your business in mind.
To do so requires an understanding of the commercial value of customer fulfillment over customer transactions, the psychology of responsive behaviour and an appreciation of how to view brand equity. These are not typically entries which appear on the client brief to the feedback agency, which could explain why we rarely see the triple value exploited.
So what is the triple value. Put simply its interpretation of the ‘what’, ‘how’ and ‘why’ from customer feedback planning.
First layer of value – ‘What’ customers feedback
I demonstrated the importance of this point in a recent workshop designed to help a client redesign a feedback programme which was about to be pulled due to lack of meaningful insights. I handed four attendees a torch each and asked them to lock a fixed beam for a minute on the most important elements in the room which make a workshop run well. They focussed on the coffee, the AV equipment, the air conditioning control and a copy of the workshop notes.
At the end of the session I picked up my feedback sheets which asked what will attendees remember from today – everyone had written down either the outcomes we’d arrived at with them or the facilitator. I asked why they hadn’t locked on these earlier and they said the facilitator was moving and the ideas weren’t formed yet. This helped them understand that whilst it wasn’t possible to shine a light on the facilitator moving about or an idea, that was what mattered and they should have worked out how to achieve it rather than settle for second best.
Feedback systems often measure touch points they can easily track or can get manageable feedback on which can mean the real drivers of behavioural change are missed. Customers can only feedback on what they are asked and when they are asked, so make sure you are shining a light on that which will drive what impacts their commitment and share of wallet.
Beware feedback programmes which don’t offer this flexibility.
Second layer of value – How customers feedback
On more than one occasion when reviewing a clients key customer issues the ‘feedback’ survey itself has appeared in the top 10 issues. This reflects one of the most undervalued aspects of the VoC programme. Whilst many may think the feedback survey is about a customer journey it is actually a part of that journey. Tone and design must reflect the brand personality. It should blend in. Sadly research companies are not brand specialist and comms agencies aren’t researchers. But with feedback programmes you need the best of both of them.
Read how a Eurostar customer’s high brand experience satisfaction dropped after they received an irritating, poorly branded feedback survey – not what they’d come to expect from Eurostar.
Hold you feedback up alongside you brand manager’s favourite brand activation work – if it doesn’t fit in, you need to rework it.
Also if your customers have a channel specific way of dealing with you, make sure that’s extended to your feedback survey. If you are famous for phone banking, don’t send a postal questionnaires. If you are a theme park, famous for interactive experiences, don’t text or email a standard questionnaire.
Bring your brand and your business in to VoC if you want to get a truer reflection and make customers happy to feedback because it’s an extension of the brand experience, rather than a review of it.
Third layer of value – why customers feedback
There is a wonderful misconception that customers’ feedback because they want to help a company improve it’s experiences and for that firm to become preferred by others and ultimately be more profitable. Unsurprisingly, this is not so.
Feedback is a release for consumers. It allows consumers to vent the injustice they’ve received versus what they expected or praise what has left a positive impression in their mind or hearts. At it’s best it can even lift a day. To understand the importance of this read Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. It explains the role small achievements can play in contributing to more significant ones. It’s great reference material for customer experience managers to better understand the importance a good experience can have on a consumer’s life.
That said there are those who think the ‘why’ means nothing more than to allow a company to score how good (or bad) they are. This example from Ryanair seems to be saying ‘just give us a score, nothing else matters we are not interested in your reason which is why we didn’t ask ‘why’.
if you want to find out more about the ‘why’, take a look at @vexvox. A curious twitter character who re-tweets customer’s gripes but also finds out why the issue mattered to the customer’s life and helps companies understand the emotional impact this has on them. Often companies take profit from the bottom line to repair damage with compensation when all the consumer wanted was understanding and empathy. Emotional context can help prioritise ‘customer importance’ over ‘commercial impact’ which is a big challenge for CX Managers looking to reorder the priority list. Which takes us back to the point of ‘why’ – it’s to help improve the customer’s circumstance.
If you put the customer first, you will release the triple value, which ultimately benefits the company. And success or failure starts with an effective feedback programme.
Lexden provides Customer Experience Strategy and Management support to clients seeking sustainable profit from customer experience.
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