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Use Voice of the Customer to Improve Customer Experience

Posted by Tom Smith on Mon, Mar, 14, 2016 @ 12:03 PM

customer_service.jpg

 

In the age of "big data," a lot of companies forget about the value of having a conversation with their customers and listening to the voice of the customer (VOC).

Knowing your customer, treating different customers differently based on desires, needs and wants will lead to more productive marketing.

The information you get by talking to customers can inform your marketing plan to ensure martech is more effective in reaching prospective customers, and providing relevant information of value when and where it does the customer the most good.

While "listening" to the customer online can provide some valuable insights, it does not permit you to establish a personal rapport that can lead to an insightful dialogue that allows you to ask follow-up questions.

I am a huge proponent of using VOC to understand what big data cannot tell you:

  • Why did you decide to buy the product or service you did?
  • Why did you decide to make the purchase now?
  • What was the deciding factor for you?
  • What was the shopping and evaluation process like for you?
  • What can we do to make it simpler and easier to do business with?
  • What can we do to save you time?
  • What would you define as an outstanding customer experience?

Having a conversation with customers can provide tremendous insights, as well as huge competitive and financial advantages.

The more you, and your employees know about your customers, the better customer experience you can provide.

Let me know if I can help you.

 

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Tags: voice of the customer, customer insights

Use Voice of the Customer (#VOC) to Reduce Churn

Posted by Tom Smith on Wed, Oct, 22, 2014 @ 11:10 AM

voice of the customer resized 600

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Do you know what your customers think about the products and services you and your firm are providing?

 

Are they likely to buy from you again?

 

Will they renew their contract?

 

If you don't know, you should ask them.

 

The insights you receive from a proactive voice of the customer program will let you know what is, and is not, working for your customers.

 

A customer who complains, and whose complaint is resolved, is more likely to be a long-term customer than the one who never provides you any feedback at all.

 

Customers that take the time to share their thoughts with you are engaged with you and your brand.

 

Don't you want to know the level of engagement your customers have with you?

 

Ask your customers about your transactions, as well as your relationships.

 

I prefer using a three-question Net Promoter survey. I find this to be an quick and easy way for the customer to let us know how we're doing and what we can do to improve.

 

Surveying heavy cell phone customers enabled us to learn how they wanted to be rewarded for their loyalty. By learning that customers wanted the lastet and greatest technology, we ensured they did and subsequently reduced churn by 9% and prevented $16 million in lost revenue.

 

For a swimming pool OEM, we surveyed 3,289 pool and spa distributors to learn what we could do to positively differentiate our products and sevices from the market leader. The insights provided by these B2B customers enabled us to make changes to our products and services that enabled our client to move from third-place to first-place in the industry.

 

As you can see, VOC can be used in both B2C and B2B markets.

 

After all, we're still people selling to people. It's important to understand what's on our customers' minds rather than assuming we know.

 

Consider spending time and money to prevent customer attrition rather than focusing all of your effforts on getting new customers. 

 

How have you used voice of the customer to reduce churn and improve the customer experience in your business?

 

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Tags: consumer insights, VoC, voice of the customer, net promoter score, connecting emotionally with customers, NPS

Use Voice of the Customer to Accelerate Sales and Improve #CX

Posted by Tom Smith on Mon, Oct, 13, 2014 @ 10:10 AM

voice of the customer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Great presentation by Maxie Schmidt-Subramanian of Forrester entitled, "The State of VOC -- It's Time To Act."

 

How do your customers perceive the interactions they have with your company?

 

Do you know?

 

Have you asked them?

 

A customer's perception is their reality.

 

Emotion is the biggest driver of loyalty.

 

Do your customers have an emotional connection to you or your brand?

 

If you don't know the answers to these questions, you need a more disciplined approach to measuring the customer experience.

 

Here are the four steps to take:

 

  1. Repair -- identify problems that need to be fixed.

  2. Elevate -- make the people responsible for the problem responsible for fixing the problem. Hold them accountable. Document and report the results.

  3. Optimize -- learn what you are doing that pleases your customers and identify ways to continue to do more of those things.

  4. Differentiate -- understand what makes you "different and better" than your competition, in your customers' eyes, and continue to build on that positive differentiation.

Having an active voice of the customer (VOC) program lets your customers know you are interested in knowing what they think about the products and services you are providing.

 

Make voice of the customer feedback an integral part of your company's decision-making process.

 

Here are four steps to improve your VOC program:

 

  1. Listen -- focus on surveys, unstructured feedback and what your employees are saying about what customers like and don't like.

  2. Interpret -- have a holistic view of the customer experience and a 360-degree view of each customer. Collect and share what the customer is saying with management and employees. Discuss the implications of what you are hearing.

  3. React -- close the loop. If a customer complains have a system in place to ensure you resolve their complaint and you get back to the customer to confirm they are happy.

  4. Monitor -- measure the results of your VOC program, know the financial impact it's having on your firm. That's the only way management will continue to support the program. The biggest reason VOC programs fail is lack of executive support.

 

Following are eight steps to take to ensure your company, and VOC program, is successful:

 

  1. Be more customer-centric when collecting feedback. Give the customer the opportunity to provide both structured and unstructured feedback. Encourage your employees, and your management team, to make listening to customers a service that everyone provides.

  2. Listen to employees. Collect customer feedback in real-time. Your customer-facing employees are your brand to your customers and the one's most likely to facilitate an emotional connection to your brand.

  3. Integrate multiple data sources to hear everything the customer is saying about you and to learn the details behind the issues and potential solutions.

  4. Be stakeholder-centric when sharing information. C-level executives may want overall KPIs. SBU managers may want to know how they compare to other SBUs. While, front-line employees want to know exactly what the customer is saying and how others have successfully resolved customer issues.

  5. React faster to customer feedback. A customer who sends you a tweet expects a response immediately, while a customer who leaves a comment on Facebook expects a response before the end of the day. You cannot wait until you've triaged all your customer comments to respond. If you wait too long to respond, your customer will think you're either not listening or don't care.

  6. Prioritize improvements you want to make. Know your customers' buyer journey and identify the most significant barriers. If you don't know what these are, ask your customers and your customer-facing employees.

  7. Develop a business case to share with management to justify the time and money being spent on the program. Continue to measure, track and update performance metrics.

  8. Start small. Identify a customer issue. Fix it. Get feedback from the customer. Establish and measure success early and expand your program over time.

 

Are you and your firm using voice of the customer feedback to accelerate sales and improve the customer experience? 

 

Want to Accelerate Sales? Download the Free e-book
 

Tags: emotional connection to the brand, VoC, voice of the customer, consumer insights accelerate sales, customer centric

Use Social Media to Outsell Your Peers

Posted by Tom Smith on Thu, Oct, 02, 2014 @ 10:10 AM

social selling

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

According to Jill Rowley (@jill_rowley, #socialselling), sales reps that use social media outsell 78% of their peers because they:

  1. Establish credibility with compelling social profiles -- including professional photographs, accomplishments and references.

  2. Build relevant networks of prospects and like minded individuals that help maintain top-of-mind awareness with prospects and channel partners.

  3. Promote thought leadership that captures attention, builds their personal brand and attracts inbound opportunities.

  4. Listen to customers and prospects to understand needs, priorities and topics of interest.

  5. Measure their social activity to understand what's working, what isn't and to refine their approach.

Given that sales are all about relationships, then social media is a great way to initiate and enhance relationships. 

 

 

Are the members of your sales team using social media to make their calls more efficient and successful?

 

Give me a call if you'd like some help teaching them how.

 

Click Here To Schedule a 30-Minute Consultation  to Discuss Marketing or Sales Issues


 

Tags: consumer insights, trust, VoC, voice of the customer, accelerate sales, connecting emotionally with customers, people do business with those they know like and t, customer relationship management, channel partners, Trustability

How To Improve the Customer Experience (#CX)

Posted by Tom Smith on Wed, Sep, 24, 2014 @ 10:09 AM

improve customer experience

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Talk to your customers.

 

Ask them how you are doing.

 

Listen intensely to what they have to say.

 

Ask follow-up questions to let your customer know you're really concerned with what they have to say.

 

I am consistently surprised by the lack of contact with customers that top management has at some of the companies with which I've worked.

 

If you're wondering how to get started, use the three-question Net Promoter Score (NPS) survey:

 

  1. On a scale of 0 to 10 where 10 is "definitely," what is the likelihood that you would recommend us to a family, friend or colleague?

  2. Why did you give us that score?

  3. If we have not done so, what can we do to earn a 10? 

 

NPS surveys are a great way to begin a dialogue with your customers.

 

If you're going to ask your customers what you can do to improve the customer experience, be prepared to address their suggestions. And, thank them for their feedback.

 

Improving customer service may mean focusing your effort on interacting with customers via social media.

 

When you have an actual dialogue with your customers, ask them what you can do that's best, easiest and most convenient for them.

 

Anything you can do to save your customers time and make their lives easier will be remembered, appreciated and shared by your customers. You will also increase the likelihood that they'll be repeat customers.

 

There's no substitute for asking questions and listening intensely to your customers.

 

It makes them feel invested in the company improving customer loyalty and retention.

 

It also gives you the opportunity to get insights into the consumer that has never occurred to you or your team. For example, have you ever asked your customers who they consider to be your competition? Do it, you might be surprised by their answers.

 

Empower your employees to engage your customers as well. The more your customers know you and your employees care about them, the more likely they are to develop an emotional connection with your brand. 

Want to Accelerate Sales? Download the Free e-book

Tags: dialogue, customer experience, voice of the customer, empower employees, emotional connection, listen intensely, customer service

Voice of the Customer (#VOC) Isn't Just About Customers

Posted by Tom Smith on Mon, Sep, 15, 2014 @ 10:09 AM

voice of the customer insights

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I've used voice of the customer (VOC) research throughout my career to solve business problems.

 

However, don't let the term, voice of the customer, limit you to just talking to customers.

 

You can learn a lot by having one-on-one conversations with:

 

  • Your management team to determine is everyone is in alignment with regard to vision, mission, values and strategic positioning.

  • Your employees to understand if they know how they are contributing to the team or to learn what customers do and do not like about our products or services.

  • Members of your sales force to understand what elements of the sales process are working, where the process is breaking down, or if they're pleased with the quality of the sales qualified leads (SQLs) they are getting.

  • Channel partners to learn what you can do to make it easier for them to sell your products to their customers, as well as their perceptions of your products and service relative to other products they are selling.
     
  • Suppliers to understand how you can be a better customer and brainstorm on things you can both change to become more efficient.

  • Former customers to find out why they left and what you can do to improve your product or service to earn back their business.

  • Prospective customers to understand their perception of your brand relative to the competition and who they see as your competition.
I prefer in-depth one-on-one interviews for a several reasons:
  • It's more personal. Respondents can see and hear that you are truly interested in what they have to say and will open up and tell you more than you were expecting. 
     
  • People tell you what they are thinking rather than what they think is "politically correct" or what will make them sound smart to others in the room.

  • You can ask follow-up questions like, "Tell me more about that." or "Can you explain why you felt that way?" and get detailed answers to those questions that you do not get with open-ended questions in a non-moderated survey.

  • You can end the interview by asking, "Is there anything I haven't touched on that you think is important or relevant to the issue we've been discussing?" This gives the respondent the opportunity to answer a question that you didn't think to ask. It also gives the respondent the opportunity to add more detail to their answer to a question that you had asked earlier. 
Use surveys, use Net Promoter Score, use focus groups, use social media listening tools, use whatever methodology that makes the most sense to gather the information you need to make more informed business decisions.
It's amazing what you'll learn if you just ask.
 
The more you know, the more effective and expedient your decisions will be.
How have you used voice of the customer research to solve a business problem?
Need More Insights From Your Analytics? Download the Free e-book

Tags: dialogue, VoC, voice of the customer, vision, mission, values, listen intensely

Know Your Customers' Answers to These Questions to Accelerate Sales

Posted by Tom Smith on Mon, Sep, 08, 2014 @ 12:09 PM

consumer insights accelerate sales

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you think you know your customer, think again.

 

Are you and your employees having a meaningful dialogue with your customers?

 

Not sure what to ask them?

 

Here are 10 questions, beyond the standard net promoter score (NPS) question I recommend everyone ask, you and your employees should be asking your customers to improve the customer experience and convert more prospects to customers:

 

  1. How did your first learn about us?

  2. Who else did you consider before you decided to give us your business?

  3. What do we do that is "different and better" than other companies like us?

  4. What do we not do as well as other companies with which you do business?

  5. What social media channels do you use?

  6. What can we do to provide what you would consider a "wow" customer experience?

  7. What can we do to save you time or simplify doing business with us?

  8. What should we tell others to get more customers like you?

  9. Can you refer us to any family, friends or colleagues that may benefit from our products/services in the same way you have?

  10. Will you please let us know if we ever do anything to cause you to reconsider doing business with us?

 

The more you, and your employees, talk to your customers, the stronger the relationship, and the emotional connection with your brand, will be.

 

People like to do business with people they know, like and trust.

 

 

Customers also like to help those companies that are going "above and beyond" to provide a great customer experience.

 

Simply by asking customers for their feedback, you're letting them know that you are concerned with what they think about you and the experience you are providing.

 

Having a conversation, face-to-face or via telephone, with your customers is a great way to build trust and to let them know you, and your employees, care about them as individuals.

 

Listen intensely and record the feedback you get, ideally in your CRM, so you're able to review the feedback you receive and use it to improve the customer experience, empower your employees and create more effective marketing campaigns and messages.

 

What questions do you ask your customers that generate the most valuable insights?

 

Empower Employees to Get Insights Download the Free e-book  

Tags: dialogue, emotional connection to the brand, customer experience, VoC, voice of the customer, face to face communications

Accelerate Sales with Social Media

Posted by Tom Smith on Tue, Sep, 02, 2014 @ 10:09 AM

use social media to enhance customer engagement

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Use social media to build authentic engagement with customers and prospects throughout their customer lifecycle.

 

Open, transparent and honest conversations accelerate the customer lifecycle, as well as the sales cycle.

 

The more you know about your customers and prospects, the more you are able to help them by providing information of value that will simplify their lives.

 

The more you simplify their lives, the more loyal they will be, the more they will buy from you in the near-term and the greater lifetime value they'll have for your firm.

 

Strive to build relationships.

 

Facilitate conversations across all stages of the customer lifecycle. The person who is just considering your product or service for the very first time is very different than a previous customer or someone who has been researching for the past few months.

 

As an example, I’ve been evaluating marketing automation software for employers and clients for the past five years so I’m a fairly well-informed prospect; however, the features and benefits of the platforms change so frequently I need to get a demo every six months so I'm fully aware of what one platform offers versus another.

 

Know what your prospects know and then share with them what they need to know to make a well-informed decision.

 

Customer communities help build engagement and brand advocacy.

 

Prospective customers trust what other customers say about your product or service, twice as much as what the company says.

 

Empower your customers to speak to others on your behalf.

 

Encourage them to do so by providing "wow" customer experiences that they want to share with their friends, family and colleagues, as well as their social media followers.

 

You can drive engagement and activate revenue through persistent, discoverable and relevant conversations.

 

Make fleeting social interactions more persistent and long-term to build trust and credibility.

 

Relevant content drives conversion. Achieve this by prioritizing and contextually appropriate community topics.

 

Ask your customers and prospects what they want to know more about and then engage them.

 

Engagement = (Content + People) x Participation

 

Relevant answers to relevant questions accelerate revenue.

 

Know your customer's buying cycles.

 

Know what their questions are at each stage of the cycle.

 

Answer the question before they ask it.

 

You will earn their trust and make their lives simpler and easier.

Click Here to Download the Free e-book

Tags: trust, integrity, voice of the customer, accelerate sales, authenticity, listen intensely, social media

ISO Opportunity to Use Analytics and Insights to Accelerate Sales

Posted by Tom Smith on Fri, Aug, 22, 2014 @ 06:08 AM

use data to accelerate sales

 

 

 

 

 

 

In reading the latest edition of Direct Marketing News, I came across the following statistics:

  • 80% of CMOs cite a lack of in-house talent to implement an effective omnichannel strategy.
     
  • 85% of CMOs attempting to implement omnichannel marketing are challenged by lack of access to data and inadequate tools/technology.
     
  • 82% of CMOs say inability to measure cross-channel performance is interfering with implementing an effective strategy.
     
  • 75% of retailers rate omnichannel fulfillment “very important.”

 

During a recent webinar, an executive from Adobe noted the lack of experienced marketing professionals with: 1) business logic; 2) buying cycles; and, 3) marketing automation skills.

 

During a meeting with the Triangle AMA Marketing Automation Special Interest Group (SIG) this week, I met a young man who’s been in marketing for four years.

 

He expressed concern that the companies for which he has worked did nothing to help him understand how his email marketing, social media marketing and marketing automation were supposed to be integrated with the rest of the firms’ marketing efforts.

 

While these skills appear to be lacking in many companies, they are skills I have personally employed successfully for numerous clients.    

 

I have used analytics to solve business problems throughout my career.

 

I’ve been using, and evaluating, marketing automation software for the past five years.

 

I have ensured that traditional, digital and social media marketing were all integrated and communicating a consistent message to prospects and customers.

 

Are you and your firm using the data you have to create buyer personas, understand and map the buyer’s journey and create a sales and marketing process that will generate more awareness, traffic, leads and sales?

 

If not, give me a call. I can help.

 

Need More Insights From Your Analytics? Download the Free e-book

Tags: consumer insights, VoC, voice of the customer, accelerate sales, CRM, marketing qualified lead, sales qualified lead, MQL, SQL, customer relationship management

Limiting Online Reviews Inhibits Transparency, Integrity and Insights

Posted by Tom Smith on Thu, Jul, 31, 2014 @ 11:07 AM

Lack of transparency

 

 

 

 

My sister in-law is a frequent traveler who booked a three-day trip to New York to shop and visit museums with a friend of her's from Chicago.

 

She used Expedia to book the six-star Pierre, a Taj Property, and was disappointed and embarrassed by the service she and her friend received.

 

When she tried to post a less than stellar review on Expedia, she was told, "Your hotel review needs revision."

 

This is the gist of what she said:

 

  • The staff was polite but they didn't know what time their restaurants opened.  My friend and I were sent back and forth between the restaurants at the hotel because neither were open with staff telling us they were open when, in fact, they weren't.
     
  • My tea arrived on a pretty tablecloth but the waiter brought French toast which I didn't order.
      
  • The tea pot burned my hand because the handle was metal and had no cover.
     
  • The hair dryer was cheap and burned my hair,
     
  • When I checked out, we asked the porter for our 5 pieces of baggage.   he said "okay", then turned around and started talking to the other staff members.  when we reminded him we had a flight to catch, he went to get the bags, which we could see in the hallway.   It took three staff members to count our bags. How many staff members does it take . . .
     
  • All in all, I chose the hotel expecting first rate service and got just an above averge hotel stay.  I was so disappointed because I thought so highly of the hotel's reputation.
     
  • The location is superb; can't ask for better.

 

"When I told my friends at work about my experience, they said........"maybe that's why you can find that hotel on Expedia."

 

Expedia is not doing themselves, their customers or the Pierre any favors.

 

I saw recently where Four Seasons had just surpassed Ritz Carlton in terms of customer service.

 

If Taj Hotels don't get feedback from disgruntled customers, how are they going to improve.

 

Companies like Expedia are wasting the value of voice of the customer (VOC) feedback by trying to supress less than perfect ratings.

 

I've seen car dealers do this and they're just hurting themselves.

 

Be real, be reliable, and be responsive -- or be gone.

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Tags: consumer insights, transparency, be reliable, be responsive, integrity, be real, VoC, voice of the customer