Many organisations claim that they are customer-focused or customer-centric. But what does that actually mean? To be really customer-centric, organisations need to focus on delivering a service to its customers that customers themselves determine to meets their requirements.
For many firms, improving Customer Experience is seen to be a cost, but for those that get it right, improving CX leads to better business efficiency through improved sales, better customer retention, improved operational efficiency, fewer complaints and reduced operating costs.
Improving CX is also an enabler of improved employee experience. Being able to deliver a better customer service and better meet customer needs is a key driver of employee engagement.
The exponential success that is possible through this ‘virtuous circle’ then involves organisations being properly in tune with its customer needs and requirements and delivering a service/providing an experience that fully meets these needs.
This in turn delivers improved commercial performance. Employees are more engaged, not only through being able to deliver a better experience to customers, but also through being part of a successful company that is performing well.
To be truly customer-focused and to reap both the customer and commercial rewards that result, organisations need to be fully cogniscent of the needs of their customers.
Customer service is what organisations provide to customers. The service provided creates an experience for those customers and that experience is what determines how engaged the customer is – both now and in the future. Improving customer engagement is the conduit to improving business performance – more sales, increased share of wallet, better retention and deeper relationships.
To be successful, companies need to know what their customers expect and then deliver the capability to provide a level of service that meets and exceeds these expectations, repetitively and consistently and without compromise or creating problems for customers.
Knowing what customers expect is not always as a straightforward as you would imagine. Most organisations are complex and hierarchical, focused on managing a plethora of challenges and opportunities – many of them not directly related to the service they provide to customers such as regulatory compliance, risk management, infrastructure needs, staffing issues, cost management and so on.
Voice of the Customer programmes keep Customer Experience front and central to an organisations operating model, its heart-beat and provides a real-time finger on the pulse of its CX delivery. Used properly, they can be the conduit to culture change, enabling organisations to be properly, and not rhetorically, customer-centric.
At the same time improving CX might be seen as a cost and not an opportunity, because of the difficulties in quantifying the benefits that could result from improving CX.
Organisations find themselves in CX hiatus – paralysed through not knowing what customers require, how to deliver it and, importantly, not being able to quantify the resultant benefits to deliver a convincing business case for CX change.
This is where a Voice of the Customer programme that is both integrated with and integral and central to the business is an absolute necessity. In large organisations the chasms that exist between senior management and the reality of the customer experience are often vast. VoC programmes provide that link, the reality check, the moments of truth that senior management need to understand CX realities and to take action to remedy.
Whilst organisations might us ‘catchalls’ like NPS or CSat to supposedly monitor CX provision, using VoC in intuitive dashboard form, allows organisations at every level, to pinpoint what might be going wrong, detail exact CX requirements quantify the size of the issue, break down problems by geography, entity, department and even individual.
Critically, it delivers the capability to understand, intuitively and quantifiably, what customers require and to benchmark actual delivery against the critical elements of these requirements. It pinpoints where issues exist and informs what actions are required to resolve and improve.
VoC, whilst it necessarily includes elements of survey data, by far and away supersedes more traditional means of gathering customer feedback by harnessing technological capability to harness real-time customer feedback – whether from what’s being said on social media, during calls with call-centres, through chat-bit calls via the website, VoC gives real-time, all-encompassing, all-embracing, comprehensive line of sight on what’s happening CX.
Voice of the Customer programs are the gateway for organisations to know exactly what customers want and expect, how to deliver it and where there are gaps and deficiencies in CX provision.
In turn, they provide actionable insights to enable organisations to improve CX in ways that directly influence bottom-line performance. They help turn ‘difficult’ decision-making around CX investment into grounded, objective-based business cases.