Over the past decade, the balance of power in the consumer-company engagement dynamic has shifted unequivocally in favour of the customer.
Once upon a time, brands spoke to consumers via one-way vehicles such as broadcast and print media. Now, there are multiple digital channels, many of them open to public scrutiny, creating a dialogue between companies and individuals rather than simply a brand monologue. This means that a company’s competitive edge can come down to how they relate to and engage with customers.
The new engagement channels and the power shift between consumers and companies have resulted in an equally large change in consumer expectations. Customers now expect organisations to be proactive in their engagement and provide a personalised service.
If companies want to keep up in this competitive environment, they now need to create lifelong brand loyalty by focusing on their customers. More than ever, companies must leverage the customer experience to keep those customers coming back again and again.
Voice-of-Customer (VoC) programs, which use customer feedback for business insights, are a valuable first step for any company looking to excel at the customer experience.
There are six basic steps involved in building a successful customer experience program:
Step 1: Map the customer journey
Determine the most valuable metrics by identifying the most common type of customers and their personas. Consider how most customers experience the organisation throughout the customer journey, from first contact to final service or product delivery. Include touchpoints, potential roadblocks, and success gates.
Step 2: Identify channels and timeline
Identify what you need to know about each customer touchpoint and determine how to collect the feedback for each. Consider how to get a mix of solicited (where companies proactively seek customer feedback e.g. email surveys) and unsolicited feedback (e.g. social media) for a fuller picture.
Step 3: Test and repeat
Test survey questions against two key factors: reliability (when asking groups of questions relevant to a similar topic) and validity (how well survey items measure).
Channel feedback performance also needs to be monitored through response-rate and completion-rate metrics. Ideally, conventional surveys will achieve a 10 per cent response rate and a five per cent completion rate. If rates dip below these levels, there may be something wrong with the design or choice of feedback channel. The most common issue that leads to poor response or completion rates is an inappropriately-high number of questions.
Step 4: Report
Strategic and role-based reporting is key. It is essential to give the right information to the right stakeholders, without overwhelming them with irrelevant data. The data needs to be real-time and meaningful to the end recipient based on their department and level.
Step 5: Set goals
It’s important to set SMART goals, which are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timely. If company-wide buy-in is strong, it may be possible to formally hold employees responsible for the customer experience. This depends on completing the previous steps successfully.
Step 6: Act
The final and most important step is action. This means addressing opportunities and always closing the loop with customers. Opportunities occur when customers have a negative experience. This lets the company engage with the customer to win back their trust and their business.
More than ever, companies must leverage the customer experience to succeed. An exceptional customer experience is a true differentiator for brands, but in order to achieve this differentiator, organisations must own the success of their Voice-of-Customer program and embed a culture of customer-centric into the organisation.
About the Author
Bill McMurray, Managing Director, Asia Pacific and Japan, Qualtrics
Qualtrics provides the balance of full-function capability, with an easy-to-use VoC platform, to enable an organisation to have a flexible and agile VoC program. This allows organisations to take action and respond to customers in real-time, to make a negative or OK experience, an exceptional experience and ultimately life-long customers.