Brands are no longer shaped by what marketing communicates, but rather the customer experience defines brands. By 2020, customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator. Positive customer experiences create higher value customers, more referrals and lower churn.
This means to develop a strong brand and drive revenue marketers must listen and act on customer feedback to improve customer satisfaction. To achieve this, marketers must develop a closed-loop Voice of Customer (VoC) program. This lets them collect customer feedback, analyse the data in a way that can be understood by executive stakeholders, and then act on the feedback.
Bill McMurray, managing director, Asia Pacific and Japan, Qualtrics, said, “An effective VoC program will drive competitive advantage and can help marketers gain a seat at the executive table. However, marketers should be aware of the common pitfalls that could hold them back from executing an effective program.”
Qualtrics has identified six mistakes to avoid when introducing a VoC program:
- Lack of ownership
Some marketers take little ownership of their VoC program and rely entirely on someone else’s expertise.
McMurray said, “The best practice is for marketers to take control of their VoC programs to drive a customer-driven organisational culture. This does not mean that marketers have to do everything, but they do have to take control.
“It is only when companies exercise full control over all parts of their VoC programs that can they gain a competitive advantage.”
- Failing to start small
Often marketers want to create programs that give them as much information as quickly as possible. However, not everything may be relevant to the business at the beginning and can distract from the focus of the program.
Rather than overstretching the program too quickly, marketers should develop and build out programs in a modular fashion.
McMurray said, “Marketers need to be careful not to try and boil the ocean, but rather start with an initial focused program, learn, iterate and scale by adding more elements and metrics as their understanding of the customers becomes more sophisticated and their capabilities grow.”
- Lack of leadership buy-in
Executive buy-in is needed to create maximum impact for any customer-centric initiative. Marketers need the support of senior leaders to establish a customer-centric culture and encourage others to improve the customer experience.
- Poor employee engagement
Employee engagement is critical to excellent customer service. Often the fastest way to improving customer satisfaction scores is to increase employee engagement scores. More engaged employees provide a better customer service, which in turn drives customer satisfaction. This should be a key priority for any business.
- Being reactive
Too often organisations are reactive to customer issues and simply ‘put out fires’. They often lack a vehicle to follow up on customer dissatisfaction issues or negative feedback.
Marketers must take a proactive approach to their VoC program, which involves including an element of market research, to predict what customers want. This leads to delivering ahead of customer expectations and truly delighted clients.
- Not taking action on customer feedback
Marketers that collect customer feedback and don’t do anything about it cause more damage than good to their brand.
McMurray said, “Customers will be more easily put off your brand because you didn’t respond to their feedback rather than by an initial poor experience.”
VoC programs should be a priority for marketers looking to develop a strong brand and boost the business’s top-line. Organisations that partner with sophisticated platforms, like Qualtrics, can take ownership of their program and choose to extend it as they grow their customer understanding. This ensures they are engaging with customers with relevance and deriving tangible insights.
 Walker Information, Customers 2020 report