Waiter taking an order.

Today customer feedback is about more than compliments and complaints, it is about building your brand’s reputation and competitiveness. Capturing the Voice of the Customer (VOC) is vital if any business is to survive and thrive.

Ultimately, all the money a business generates flows from the customer. In order to maintain sustainable, long term business success, modern companies need to develop profitable and productive relationships with their customers. Relationships that create repeat business and increase footfall. However, these relationships cannot be built without sharing knowledge between the business and the consumer.

This is the fundamental reason why any organization needs to stay in tune with the Voice of the Customer. Consumer’s wants and needs evolve constantly, trends come and go, and any company needs to evolve with them. Without these valuable customer insights, a business will become stagnant and out of tune. Many large enterprises have failed because they have not stayed in touch with what the customer wants. The alternative is to guess about customer perspectives. This is unlikely to be accurate, as it will be filtered through the lens of the company’s culture, producing distorted and inaccurate results.

Modern customer insights need to have the potential to improve the overall performance of the company in terms of its products and services. By becoming customer-centric, every function is seen as customer facing and vital to growing the business.

What are the Cornerstones of an Effective VOC program?

  • Customer feedback is viewed as a key way to improve the success of the business.
  • Customers are able to give feedback whenever they want.
  • Feedback systems should encourage feedback that will open a dialogue between the business and the customer.
  • Responsive feedback – reacting to consumer feedback in a timely manner.
  • The program produces integrated information from various sources of feedback (on premises, on the internet, via mobile).
  • Information is quickly disseminated to those on the ‘Frontline’ so changes can be made swiftly.
  • The results of analysis provide distilled, real-time insights, which are potent and practical.
  • Allows companies to measure the impact of actions on the customer experience.
  • Encompasses both qualitative and quantitative feedback.

Chef watching apprentice.

How can a VOC program help a business?

  • It helps craft the company’s strategic direction. By understanding the customer’s current needs, a business can position itself to ensure it fully capitalizes on those needs.
  • By watching for indications of changes in customer perspective about the company’s goods and services, sales teams can detect trends and changes. Sales staff are able to anticipate what might happen, and adjust accordingly. This is particularly important for any industry that is ‘high fashion’ – interiors, clothing, and gadgets etc.
  • A VOC program allows companies to discover what works and what does not in terms of customer service. If staff ‘get it right’, they strengthen the relationship between the customer and the business. If they ‘get it wrong’, a customer is unlikely to return. By monitoring the interactions between staff and the customer, the business can quickly adjust based on the customer’s perceived satisfaction of their contact with staff.
  • For any type of marketing to work, it needs to be targeted at the relevant audience. VOC allows companies to develop truly effective messaging and positioning, that incorporates the viewpoints of the customer. This includes factors affecting purchase decisions and identifies customer segmentation, by finding out and grouping their wants and needs.
  • Product/Service development using VOC allows a business to adapt quickly to change. Companies can rapidly develop new products or improve old ones, based on consumer feedback.
  • Staff can cement or destroy customer relationships. A good VOC program provides an insight into the employee traits that need to be developed or maintained. The information can also be used in hiring, to select the candidates who closely match the service values.

An example might be - the ability to empathize with the customer.

Gaining Insights

Customer feedback does not magically turn into usable reports. It requires analysis and interpretation. Historically, this has been challenging for many companies, as they lacked the tools and techniques to work with both qualitative and quantitative data.

Using a tool like Suggestar, to collect your data, helps overcome these obstacles.

  • Standard reporting and dashboard, so collated customer information can be seen at a glance.
  • Predictive analytics allow the company to understand cause and effect. For example, if you train your receptionists in listening skills, do you receive higher satisfaction ratings?
  • Support for segmentation. Tools allow the customer to drill down into the data, to identify common sets of customers.
  • Graphs to help business people to understand the data – and divide it into subsets – by different premises or departments.
  • Pre-set alerts to notify designated staff members, when feedback has been received, so they can make appropriate changes promptly.

Why use Suggestar?

With Suggestar you can turn hindsight into insight, and insight into foresight.

Suggestar is a smartphone optimized web program that customers use to send immediate feedback about a business – either while they are on-premises or from their chosen location. It combines the immediacy of customer feedback cards with the advantages of an on-line survey. Plus, it can be completed on any mobile device.

Customers can scan a QR code as they wait for the cash register, or complete feedback at home, or in a café via your website. This immediate feedback allows a business to identify and solve its ‘points of pain’ in real- time – addressing the areas that are causing the most customer dissatisfaction. Suggestar data can be used to explore and find new associations – helping businesses to become more predictive and anticipate the future. Using the Suggestar mechanisms, means customer feedback is transformed from data into information and then into knowledge.

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