Tag Archives: feedback

The triple value from VoC – are you getting yours?

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

feedback2On 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.

feedback surveyAlso 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.

ryanair3Feedback 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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For further information contact on how we can help your customer strategies contact christopherbrooks@lexdengroup.com or call M: +44 (0) 7968 316548 or T: +44 (0)1279 902205.  You can also follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter or read client testimonials and case studies at www.lexdengroup.com.

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Testing 1, 2, 3. Is this Voice of the Customer microphone on?

I was invited to speak at a recent event held by Steria. They were hosting a Customer Engagement themed event for retailers. I chose to share some ‘customer insight interpretation’ stories under this heading. It’s an area in which Steria has a growing team of experts. One of their brilliant analysts is Gerard Crispie. I’ve known Gerard for years. He has a similar view to me when it comes to how to leverage customer feedback effectively. Many years ago we worked together on a Building Society brand where he helped me understand the difference that can be achieved between capturing insight and being insightful with what you capture. I’ve since discovered this is a key difference between leading customer orientated organisations and those who aspire to be. I summarise those lessons from Gerard as follows:

  1. Be reliant on the people involved in developing the feedback technology, not the technology itself
  2. When capturing customer feedback, cast the net wide and look under stones (don’t rely on the ‘we’ll get what we need from 60% of feedback’ philosophy – you won’t)
  3. Always leave the mic set to ‘on’, you never know when you might hear something insightful
  4. It’s data – so be agile in your interpretation, not binary

Fast forward 15 years to the present, and at Lexden we now work with major brands to set-up and deliver end-to-end customer experience programmes and other customer strategy requirements. But I still find these lessons being missed. Perhaps the customer research team are focused too heavily on building structured and efficient voice of the customer programmes, only to provide board level KPIs? Or devise tracking studies to provide evidence that a specific customer touchpoint is impaired by a broken process, so they can justify investment to fix it? Whilst all very heroic, and often necessary, it will never transform a business into a natural customer-driven organisation.

garden fenceTo achieve this you need to look for feedback which is less obvious in its meaning. It’s in these margins that you can find the gold that allows you to understand ‘why’ an expectation from a customer is important, or how your customer experience can be differentiated from others based on your brand positioning rather than your service provision. However, it is in this muddled, messy and often confused space where Gerard and I find most fortune for clients.

To get to these riches requires great people, great listening and interpretation skills, and the ability to put a metaphorical microphone in front of customers when it doesn’t really belong there. That way you might hear something of real interest. Capturing insight which falls outside the boundaries of an organised customer research feedback programme will allow the business to hear new conversations (or gripes) and lesser discussed topics.

With this in mind, for my talk I chose examples which highlight why it’s important to think beyond the structured Voice of the Customer programme if a business is really serious about using customer feedback to shape its decision-making, and not just validate what it probably knows already.

Case #1: The general insurer who needed to see tears before it was convinced it had a problem

The customer experience team for this leading general insurer shared wave after wave of well presented VoC results at the board meeting. But despite the evidence showing that the claims process was letting the overall customer experience down, the programme didn’t allow enough flexibility to prove why. The customer experience team knew that the problem was that the business saw the vehicle as the customer, but they had also sold in the VoC programme as THE voice of the customer. The programme didn’t highlight this so they couldn’t get the board to understand what changes were needed.

blair witchThey resorted to a drama to highlight the crisis. The customer experience team hired a professional to buy a car, insure it, create a low impact crash, be left stranded and then make a claim to be recovered. The individual videoed the entire episode. Including the sales rep on the phone thanking him for his valued custom and confirming the ‘customer matters’, the recovery wagon picking up the car after the crash, and leaving the man alone at night for a second vehicle to collect him  –  the recovery driver’s contract was to ‘recover and repair the car’, not the passenger.

The customer experience team took the video to the next boardroom rather than the VoC study. Maybe it was the content, maybe it was seeing the fear of the scared customer stranded at night, maybe it was the Blair Witch Project style filming, but whatever it was it worked. For the first time the board agreed they had a problem – the car was seen as the customer, not the driver. No thanks to VoC, the customer improvement was then commissioned.

Case #2: The utility company who listens to customers to shape the company’s future as well as the current business offer

VoC programmes typically track key interactions between the customer and the organisation. These are mainly focused on what is currently experienced or reaction to proposed changes to the brand, product or service. But one major UK utility company has created a shadow customer board as well. So rather than just hear what isn’t working in terms of product and service experience, they share with customers their strategic endeavours, critical business decisions and the commercial impact of customer experience improvements. Whilst VoC helps them understand how well they perform for their customers today, the shadow customer board helps them shape their future based on their customer’s expectations.

Case #3: The bank who lost business by listening too strictly to the Voice of the Customer

bank teller

This well established national bank noticed, through it’s AUM figures, that maturities of a particular investment product were not being managed, meaning customers’ funds were automatically transferred to a low-interest savings account. This meant that the investment team lost out on valuable x-sell opportunities. The VoC programme identified that a call prompted by a maturity letter was the key ‘moment of truth’ to retain the customer’s investment. So the bank set up a team to make calls to inform customers of their options, including a new investment.

With the trial underway, results started to show a change of events. They noticed that whilst some money was transferred into a new investment and some rolled over into the savings account, 30% was cashed in! A worse outcome than before they were led by VoC. Why was this? What VoC didn’t track is that many customers didn’t see that this was the key MoT or the end of the journey. Instead, customers unhappy with their options, triggered by the call, contacted the branch where they originally took out the investment. The branch advisers, with no incentive to retain the customer’s investment or awareness of the investment team’s trial, helped customers close their accounts.

The investment team contacted the branches and found out what was happening. They then realised how VoC had misled them. The key is to widen the ‘stakeholder impact reach’ when journey mapping, to avoid internal audiences being left unaware of the impact of their actions. Once spotted, the investment team trained a few branch staff to cover regions advising customers of new investment opportunities. The 30% reduced and the investment retention returned.

Each case proves that whilst VoC is a key customer experience tool, helping to inform the business, over reliance on it can blind side the business from the even more important customer irritants and opportunities. Keeping agile and open-minded is key to listening to customers and allowing their influence into the business. A characteristic I now associate with world-class organisations. Connecting with Gerard again has reminded me where my understanding of this originated from and we believe connecting with Steria will give Lexden the opportunity to apply this for more clients at a world-class level too.

Lexden is a Customer Strategy Agency. We put customers at the start and the heart of the business strategy.

We work with brands to attract and retain happy customers. We achieve this by helping them to understand what makes their customers tick, building memorable customer experience strategies and creating engaging customer value propositions.

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For a discussion on how we may be able to help you, contact christopherbrooks@lexdengroup.com or call us on M: +44 (0) 7968 316548. You can also follow us on LinkedIn Facebook and Twitter @consultingchris