Via social media and other channels, marketing has become a conversation. But what is the customer saying? A new report from the Aberdeen Group attempts to find out.
The report, “Voice of the Customer: Empowered Customers Bring a Wealth of Business Insight,” surveyed 366 businesses about their customer experience management. Of those, 132 said they use the voice of the customer, or VoC, as a key part of their CX management, so Aberdeen tried to determine best practices and leading trends.
Customer Is King+
The research firm noted that customers have always been viewed as the “king,” but now, in addition to its use for such goals as customer satisfaction and retention, customer input is also being used to drive new product or service creation, new sales tactics, new marketing programs, brand awareness, loyalty and top-line revenue growth. To get the feedback, techniques employed by businesses include post-service surveys, social media monitoring, and customer-oriented events.
Half of the survey’s respondents said that customers, empowered with new levels of information about products and services, have changed the dynamics of customer-business relationships.
Sometimes, of course, that can have negative consequences, as when customer voices say bad things about a business. This potential negative word-of-mouth is a key driver of some VoC initiatives, and nearly a third of respondents said that they have experienced the negative impact of customer turnover on profitability.
A previous Aberdeen study found that Best-in-Class organizations could add US$ 33 million to top-live revenue by reducing the customer turnover rate to no more than 14 percent annually and by increasing spending to keep existing customers. Churn can be decreased, Aberdeen pointed out, by responding to customer feedback with customer experience and product improvements.
Key Performance Indicators
“Customers understand that issues will arise and products will break,” the current report said, “but it is the support activities (both proactive and reactive) that an organization puts in place which will determine if clients will remain loyal buyers or look for other providers.”
Aberdeen defined Key Performance Indicators to determine what constitutes Best-in-Class performers, as measured by customer retention rate, first contact resolution, average year-over-year response time to customer requests and year-over-year improvements (or decline) in company revenue.
The top actions driving Best-In-Class were three strategic moves:
- Incorporating VoC as a formal part of the company business plan.
- Creating a unified view of customer feedback data available to all key stakeholders.
- Ensuring consistency between customer messages delivered by numerous stakeholders across multiple channels.
In one case study example cited in the report, an unnamed regional service and repair organization with a quarter million customers used IVR/online customer feedback surveys and social media monitoring to inform changes for providing exceptional service experiences during major home appliance breaks and similar challenging circumstances.
As a result of the feedback, the company instituted employee training to ensure they engaged conversationally with customers and developed other soft skills. The result, attributed to an increase in trust by customers, has led to increased performance in such metrics as annual revenue, positive mentions in social media and customer retention.
The report’s overall recommendations include development of a company-wide strategy and utilization of customer interaction data, which is now available in extensive detail, to create more targeted communications and offerings.