There is a scene in a certain TV show in which a middle-aged man tells a younger one that he missed picking someone up from the train station because his device did not remind him about it. The younger man points out that, since he bought a new device, he must transfer the appointments. The older man, visibly disappointed, asks “Why don’t they transfer automatically?”
This may be comedy to most people, but imagine what those responsible for the design and production of such devices felt when they heard that. We could definitely bet that this was brought up in their following product development meeting.
The issue here is that a customer said something negative about the product, and the reach of that negative perception has the potential of being disastrous. How could the product creators have avoided it? Did they miss something? The obvious answer is that they should have listened to what the customer felt before rolling anything out. Truth is that what a customer feels about a product or service is determinant for its success and most companies failing to listen are doomed. But listening to the intended buyer or user is quite more complicated than just checking a TV show and being on the lookout for criticism (or praise, we all love praise). Quite the contrary: a whole process is needed, and that process is called “Voice of the Customer”.
A Voice of the Customer program provides a framework for asking, compiling, analyzing, and reporting customer feedback, their wants and needs. It provides both qualitative and quantitative responses to determine the alignment of a product or service with the customer’s perceived expectations, so that they get a hierarchy which can be incorporated into R&D processes.
VoC models are not necessarily new. In fact, organizations have gauged individual customer feedback systematically ever since the emergence of marketing as a structured strategy for business growth. Authors have been explaining the benefits of VoC since several years: for instance, a study by the Aberdeen Group from 2016 identified VoC as a driver that can increase customer retention by 55% and decrease customer service costs by 23%. However, as Capgemini points out, VoC has morphed to power up product development by being incorporated into a wider CX analysis to improve customer journeys.
The team of developers is excited about a new product. The product management team is ready to lead the project. The company leadership has bought-in to the ideas. But everything can flop if the customer is not considered. Obviously, a need for a new product has been established prior to kickstarting anything, but how does the company know the data used for the decision to go forward is the right one? If the organization does not understand the wants and needs of the customers, their expectations will not be fulfilled -let alone, exceeded. And that will take a toll on the rest of the design process and the overall performance.
VoC features need to be used to inform change and to funnel it into the output from every team in the organization. Such features must include feedback collection tools that are targeted to the potential audiences and that are built around the customer’s journey and their interactions with the brand. For this purpose, direct feedback tools like customizable surveys, fast and intuitive ratings, and NPS surveys give an individualized perspective of CX. However, to truly understand the customer, companies need 360-degree feedback across all touchpoints. That includes the ability to integrate inferred feedback into multi-platform product analytics during the development stages and to keep product roadmaps aligned towards building an enhanced customer journey. Tools like A/B testing or usability tracking give product managers valuable CX information that, when integrated with direct feedback and even information delivered by the Customer Success and Sales teams, can provide the ultimate understanding of what improvements can be implemented next.
Up until here, we have pleaded a case for VoC and how it must be an integral part of any CX strategy. But here is the catch: “while expectations for the importance of CX are rising, CX budgets are not”. Such a conclusion by Gartner points out the obvious: we need well-rounded product analytics solutions that can generate clear insights for any roadmap, no matter the case or complexity. And if it is a solution that the management can buy-in because it does not break the bank or offers the highest ROI possible, the organization will thrive. If that is the solution to your product’s wants and needs, click here for a demo or here to contact us. You can also see our entire set of product analytics features at www.count.ly/plugins.
Remember that an effective VoC program is one that collects customer feedback, provides an analysis of it with actionable insights, and has an intuitive and easily shareable way of distributing that data for implementation. However, a stellar VoC program does all that while being inserted into every team within the organization and within every step during product development: inception, design, sales, and customer success need to have actionable data on CX to ensure less pain points and higher loyalty.