Five Steps to Gain the Most from Your Voice of the Customer Study

by Kay Cruse, Vice President, VOC ABOUT KAY

“They said what?!”

Nothing sets a team on fire like hearing what customers really think. The straightforward truth can be enlightening, engaging, and exhilarating—regardless of whether the news is good or bad. We’ve delivered both positive and negative reviews to employee teams, and some have made great strides while others have stumbled. Follow these five steps to maximize the influence of a Voice of the Customer (VOC) study with employees.

  1. Share.

    Once your VOC study is complete and your executive teams are briefed, it’s time to deliver the messages to the masses. First, answer some basic questions:

    • Why did you undertake the VOC in the first place?
    • What did you learn from it?
    • What will you do about it?
    • What do you expect of each employee based on the findings?
    • What happens next?

    The most successful sessions are typically a joint effort between the CEO/president and the consultants who conducted the research. Just as a third party researcher can gain insight into a company that internal individuals often cannot, the external resource can also facilitate a discussion that eliminates blame. Details of the story behind the findings create context for employees.

    Importantly, this is also a time to challenge the group with establishing a target score to represent improvement in the next year. It’s sensible to suggest an Net Promoter Score® that will increase 15 to 20 points or more, depending on the boldness of the initiatives outlined in the study.

  2. Plan.

    Planning puts the VOC results in perspective. This step is essential to set priorities and evaluate how you’ll deploy your human and economic capital. How much can you tackle while still maintaining the day-to-day work?

    The VOC is tied to critical customer touchpoints in the organization, so it becomes a process of reworking specific elements—determining what stays and what must be changed, what must happen first and what can wait. Decide on the executive sponsors of each initiative and how many staff associates will be involved in the change management process.

  3. Do.

    Now that your priority plan is in place, it’s time to proceed. Teams formed to address the critical issues should include both executive sponsors and hands-on associates. This step involves emotional commitment as well as action. Understanding why customers have responded to certain questions requires a close read of all the data. Assess any constructive criticisms and suggested solutions customers have offered. Take advantage of these insights to address and resolve the issue.

  4. Regroup.

    Once solutions have been in place for approximately 100 days, it’s time to take a reading to discern whether the results are visible to customers. In most instances, this is a brief survey that can be executed with internal resources. This limited and selective calling campaign seeks to discover if your actions are resonating with customers. Have they noticed changes in a specific area, and if so, what have they experienced? Do they have any suggestions for this particular area—while the teams continue to build a comprehensive solution?

    Armed with feedback from 20-25 customers, you can now return to the group and report on the current customer experience. Are we following the right path? How much more is there to do? When will the results be felt across all customer segments?

    With that knowledge, you can then plan to reassess customer satisfaction at the one-year point. After a year, virtually all customers should have experienced some level of exposure to your new solutions-based initiative. By launching the same sequence of in-depth customer interviews, gaining input regarding the NPS, and probing to understand the rationale behind the score, you’ll have a pre- and post-reading to compare. If you’ve worked the plan successfully, the score will rise as evidenced by:

    • Increased revenue
    • Greater productivity
    • Wider profit margins
    • Generally happier customers
  5. Celebrate.

    When your NPS surpasses the previous year’s benchmark, there’s reason to celebrate. A surging score is an indication that your initiatives and solutions resonated with customers. More importantly, it also means that the customer experience you intend to provide is taking shape. Is there more to do? In most cases, the answer is “yes.” And, armed with feedback from the new Voice of the Customer, you’ll be prepared to identify the specific action you’ll be taking in the coming year.

    A rising NPS rating means you’ve successfully positioned all the elements of change management: head – knowing what to do; heart – making the emotional commitment to change, and hand –putting a workable plan in place and working the plan.

    After gathering and assessing unfiltered feedback from your customers, you followed the five steps to maximize the VOC results for successful employee engagement: share, plan, do, regroup, and celebrate. By continuing this cycle, your company will reap rewards well into the future.