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Wednesday 24 June 2020

Don’t listen to your customers (if you will not act)
CX Hard Truth Series – Episode 2

customer-experience-dont-listen-customers2

Over the last decades, globalization and digitalization have created a broken link between the employees who deliver products and services to the market and the consumers who buy and use them. The whole point of a CX transformation is to bring customers and employees closer and try to reconnect them.

What is a connection?

A connection is - by definition - a relationship in which a person or thing is linked or associated with something else. This implies a two-sided relationship.
Customers are now omnipotent gods: they are glad to say what they think and feel about your brand, products, services or experiences, or even suggest or co-design future opportunities with you. Most companies now tend to agree on listening to what customers have to say. But they still hardly act or respond!

The art of collecting customer feedback

Asking for feedback and sending customer satisfaction surveys are not a new thing: it has been done for decades using different means: call centers agents, paper forms, online surveys, Interactive Voice Response (IVR) etc.

But these means are no longer sufficient when you intend to get closer to your customers:

  • A one-fits-all delayed satisfaction survey sent once a year does not give you realistic and actionable data.
  • Paper surveys require human resources and huge money, time and effort to make them useful. And there is also a high chance of losing information in the process (lost papers, bad handwriting, human errors etc.)
  • Let’s not talk about the nightmare of collecting feedback from different channels and the puzzle when it comes to consolidating it (if ever done).
  • By the time you collect feedback, analyze it, decide what to do about it, actually do something about it and get a market response: it has long become irrelevant.

This is why, any company running a CX transformation should look into Customer Voice Systems (also called customer feedback management systems). Customer Voice Systems (CVS) are the cornerstone of a CX transformation as they allow you to collect real-time customer feedback anytime and anywhere.
This allows you to get a massive amount of feedback and valuable insights to better understand the root causes (the “why”) behind the symptoms (the “what”).

But, believe me, there is nothing worse than asking for customer feedback and then doing nothing about it (it’s the same for your employees btw). It is then just a one-sided connection.

The importance of closing the loop

Customer Voice Systems are not just survey tools, but powerful customer feedback management systems. Switching from a one-sided to a two-sided connection requires closing the loop (listen / analyze / act / repeat).

At the end of the day, CVS will drastically increase the number of collected feedback (more channels, more surveys like post-interaction surveys etc.), so you will need to be ready for this.

Here is a non-exhaustive list of things to consider when implementing a Customer Voice System to actually be able to close the loop:

  • Processes
    - What to measure? How to collect feedback? (when in the journey, through which channel(s)) etc.).
    - What are the processes for the short inner loop (immediate response/corrective actions). the medium loop (continuous improvements) and the long loop (strategic change)?
    - How to prioritize feedback? How to define the criticality level of a piece of feedback? By rate, by sentiment, by themes/keywords etc.
    - How to be alerted and when?
    - How to respond? What workflows can be automatized?
    - What Service-Level Agreement (SLA) should be defined depending on the criticality level?
  • Systems
    - How to link this with your customer data and CRM?
    - Which supporting systems (customer service ticketing, IT helpdesk, collaboration tools etc.) should be linked to smooth the feedback management process?
  • People
    - Who will be in charge of managing the feedback collection over time?
    - Who will be in charge of analyzing and reporting the collected feedback?
    - Do I need to hire / train people? Should I do it internally or externally?
  • Governance
    - Who should be the owner of the program?
    - Do I need a governance committee? If yes, who should be part of it?
    - What is the RACI matrix (Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, Informed) for the feedback management? (depending on their criticality & timeframe)
    - How to share the insights within the company? To whom? And for what purpose?

For this reason, implementing the voice of the customer within your company should be considered as a dedicated program part of your CX transformation journey. It requires different stages of maturity to be able to perfectly embed customer feedback management into your culture, systems and processes. But you shouldn’t wait to reach the highest level to close the loop, even if it is really basic stuff at first (ex: send a thank you email and explain what you do with the feedback.)

Closing the loop makes customers feel that the feedback they gave was worth their time, because someone was listening. It not only lets customers know that you have heard their feedback but also brings the customer’s voice right inside the organization. Employees get a direct line to the people they are serving, which is the best way to increase their engagement!

So again, please don’t listen to your customers if you will not act!

Véronique Tillaud
Consulting & Innovation Director – SQLI Switzerland

Previously in the CX Hard Truth Series:
Episode 1 : "Ooh, Ooh Pain Is So Close To Pleasure”: A CX Lesson From Freddie Mercury"

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