Collect, engage and create dialogues that reflect the Voice of the customer (VoC) is from my opinion one of the most valuable skill of a proficient Account Manager can deliver on. I believe that the exercise of building fruitful, solid and open business relationship is neither art nor a science, it’s about being true to yourself, manage expectation and build trust with time. Therefore encapsulate in your approach a strong understanding of how do your customers perceive the interactions they have with your company is paramount.
This blog post aim to share some of the guidelines I experiment with in the past and found particularly successful to accelerate sales and improve customer experience.
Let’s start by the fundamentals. Do you know? Have you asked them? The voice of the customer is about wording to the individual that form your company (group, vertical, business unit), the perception of the customer reality.
There is no stronger factor of adherence to your brand – and so your service – than the emotion your client feel. Do your customers have an emotional connection to you or your brand?
If you don’t know the answers to these questions, first you probably feel that there is a disconnection between the feedbacks of your company about let’s say a project and the vital part of your business that the client is. Do you feel you need a more disciplined approach to measuring the customer experience? Read on.
An Approach To Measure Customer Experience
Start by identify client by client, project by project what problems need to be fixed. This first step is particularly efficient if you start as account manager on a new client / project. There is certainly a few quick win you can get here. Then keep the bigger problem on a list.
Now this is the identification and problem elevation step. Who’s involve in the issue the client is facing and how this will be addressed? Depending on your organisation you can either have a regular face to face to discuss on progress or go further and ask for a report about progress. In both case, whether you are in a start-up or in the larger company, get people accountable. I am planning to blog soon about what makes good service, and surprise I believe accountability and ownership are key to success.
Now that you quick fixed and manage the bigger picture, it’s time to optimise and create a virtuous circle. Learn by engaging with your teams what makes your customer happy, this will massively enhance your company on-boarding on the process, and as account manager it will enable your cross-pollination capability facing new or existing client.
Finally work on your differentiator’s properties. Ask to your clients but also to your teams and maybe your competitors, do they perceive you as different and better? From these conversation focus on positive differentiation while ensuring your value proposition is reflected in their assessment.
Having an active voice of the customer plan lets your customers know you are embracing their interest: knowing what they think about the products and services you are providing.
The next question you should ask your Head of Sales is “How do we make sure the voice of the customer feedback is integrated in your company’s decision-making process?”
Improve Your Approach to The Voice of the Customer, Listen, Interpret, React and Monitor
Listen. Be open to conversation in a structured and unstructured fashion with your colleagues and your clients. There is no better way to know what they have to say about you good and bad. The voice of the customer in as much an inward and outward looking exercise.
Interpret. This is the moment to discuss with others the implications of what you are hearing on ground. Collect and share, the knowledge need to circulate. This need to be a positive and open moment, if you feel you need to agree to disagree, have a look at my blog post 4 Tactics To Agree To Disagree, Effectively.
React. Whether you close the loop with a client following feedback or you just receive one, act or react. Remember, there is nothing more frustrating as a client than not been kept in touch.
Monitor. Monitor and keep measuring the impact of your voice of the customer plan, from a tangible result on your returning client to the financial impact. While seeking guidance from your management, strengthen your position with their support.
Now How To Measure Success?
In the first instance it look like we did quite a lots of reporting and interpreting, but you can go the extra miles, ensuring your company and your Voice of the Customer program, is successful.
Encourage your teams and your management to make listening to customers a service that everyone provides. Collect customer feedback in real-time, leverage your team member on the ground. Being on the front line always gave me the great position of being the first who can react and onboard clients at the right moment.
Be stakeholder-centric when sharing information. Your client executives may want overall measure of your progress. At another level, some may want to know how they compare to others project you work with.
Adding extra monitoring on your social network like Twitter and Facebook could prove very successful to demonstrate your capacity to be real time, while very position for your reputation. You can find more in my blog about managing reputation: Why And Ways To Improve Your Company’s Reputation. Be careful, if you wait too long to respond, your customer will think you are either not listening or don’t care.
Prioritise improvements and changes to your service. Know your customers’ journey and identify the most significant pitfalls. If you don’t know what these are, ask your customers and your customer-facing employees. As usual report on progress and share the success with your teams.
You can develop business case studies to share with everyone in order to justify the time and money being spent on the program. At first it will improve your writing habits, in the long run and if you iterate you will be able to review the path you walked through together.
Are you and your company using voice of the customer feedback to accelerate sales and improve the customer experience?