Three Essentials of Voice of the Customer

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Voice of the Customer
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Successful voice of the customer initiatives require three main elements to succeed: executive involvement, closing the loop, and taking action...

Voice of the customer initiatives require three main elements to succeed: executive involvement, closing the loop, and taking action--according to Cameron Conway, assistance vice president of customer research at Equifax. During his presentation at the Allegiance VoCFusion conference yesterday, Conway provided some insight into each of these areas.Executive involvement: Company culture should dictate the level of executives' involvement in voice of the customer (VOC) efforts. However, they should be involved enough to get a thorough understanding of customers needs, expectations, and preferences. Conway recommended getting senior executives on the phone with customers to help close loop on customers' issues, as well as increase customer engagement through that personal touch.

Closed-loop process: Closing the loop with customers is essential, but some senior leaders balk at this because they fear it may cost too much or be a drain on employees' time. If you're goal is to call every unhappy customer, show the potential investment in numbers by using a model. For example, say you have 3,000 total customers contacts and a 35 percent response rate on average to VOC surveys; of those respondents, 25 percent are detractors. That comes to 200 customers to contact. If you have 20 salespeople, each needs to make only 10 calls.

Take action: Identify and prioritize the actions you'll take based on both VOC and business strategy. Give each action an owner and a plan. Hold the owner accountable, but provide access to necessary resources. This includes taking immediate action in the moment, and then following up internally to determine the ideal action; for example, giving a credit to a customer who calls in about a billing discrepancy, with the expectation that upon further investigation the credit may be adjusted or reversed.

"Customers have taken the time to tell you how they feel about you, and then you don't do anything with the data," Conway said. "It's surprising, but it happens all the time."

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