The voice of the customer (VoC) is a dynamic asset that can impact every part of a business. Brands can quantify benchmarks like repeat business, referrals, and social feedback, but the true value of attentive, personalized customer service is hard to measure without a dedicated system in place.
After all, every customer's brand experience is holistic, composed of multiple channels and touchpoints, from a brand perspective, it takes more than the sales team to close a deal. Whether a company caters to online business or is rooted in brick-and-mortar retail, conducts B2B transactions or directly markets to consumers, marketers are investing in ways to stand out from their competition by showing they care, and supporting the entire customer lifecycle. By letting customers in on these benchmarks, your brand and its audience connect with a more human perspective and strengthen bonds that lead to customer loyalty.
However, before you can begin reaping the results of mutual wins and personalized interactions, you must identify which benchmarks will stand out to your audience and in your industry. Try these tips to get started.
1. Know your audience's goals.
Your customers had ideal results in mind when they began engaging with your business. Survey your sales staff to learn what pain points they discuss with prospective customers. Are you solving these issues in a unique, simple way for new clients, as well as your longer-term customers?
2. Ask for feedback, and take it to heart.
Be proactive about asking for reviews, prompting anecdotal feedback, and inciting social interactions that focus on your products, but also on your customer service. And don't let this feedback pile up to become a mass of unstructured data; establish a system that highlights actionable insights in customer comments and incorporates them into the brand experience. Your customers and your employees have the same access to industry tools, such as competitor data and third-party research, so this experience is your primary chance to stand out.
3. Establish mutually beneficial benchmarks.
Perhaps a B2B client hit its goal of 2,000 positive reviews from its own customers, and your efforts played a major role in that achievement. Reward the customer with a title or badge that can be displayed on its website, boasting its exemplary service while establishing your brand as a point of reference. Or, take this action further and have your team surprise the customer at its office with an in-person celebration, complete with balloons, a cake and a framed copy of the review that pushed the total number to 2,000.
You should consistently track key performance indicators (KPIs) like net promoter scores (NPS), which highlight the degree to which customers would recommend brands to their networks; customer review scores, or the standard assessment a customer would share in a review of the brand experience; customer service costs; customer sentiments; retention rates; average transaction values, and more. However, personal actions and those that help the customer build its own credibility have an impact far beyond baseline engagements like automatic emails and thank-you notes.
4. Identify your customer listening team.
As you pictured the party situation described above, which team members were part of the mental group of employees who showed up to surprise the customer? Every interaction throughout the customer lifecycle should be prepared for in advance, from the paths to which various issues will be routed to the representatives who will maintain relationships with customers long after a sale is made. Invest in methods that create a portrait of your customer by tracking those mutual benchmarks, as well as customer feedback, CRM data, and sales team insights from a combined perspective. When employees have direct responsibilities to listen to and measure the VoC, its impact will only expand and improve.
5. Share and engage, but don't broadcast.
If you highlight a brand as the B2B customer of the month on your blog, write an unbiased post about its business success that will be valuable for the company to share among its networks. Meanwhile, demonstrate your care for B2C customers by going the extra mile to show personal understanding during social media interactions, and make it easy for them to build on or share the results of your interaction. Smart marketers view social media as an ongoing engagement opportunity, not a platform from which brand messaging should be aired.
6. Don't view the VoC as a one-time thing.
Increased levels of service are becoming the norm, and customers expect the same treatment from top brands and local stores. As a result, every retailer should be prepared to offer a memorable experience throughout the customer lifecycle and long after the initial engagements or points of sale. Measure the impact of every customer win and every time VoC data informs a business decision within your organization, and it will help create a sustainable environment that promotes customer service experiences that go above and beyond expectations and differentiate your brand within its industry.
Econsultancy estimates that 90 percent of companies say they're committed to improving their customer experience, but only 35 percent of them have actually implemented strategies to do it. Luckily, getting started is easy-all you need to do is listen to your customers and make sure their goals are your goals, too.