Taking Your Voice of Customer Program to the Next Levelin Strategic Account Management, Account Management, Key Account Management /
Best-in-class Voice of Customer (VOC) programs increase customer retention by up to 55% and boost profits, according to Aberdeen Group.
VOC is a strategic process enabling key account managers (KAMs) to gather valuable customer feedback. This approach facilitates gaining insights concerning customer problems, expectations, and experiences with your brand.
Armed with this information, KAMs can build deeper, longer-lasting relationships with their key accounts, reduce churn, and drive revenue.
Whether you’re new to VOC or you have a well-established process, there is always room for improvement. But before you can take your current process to the next level, you need to determine the maturity of your VOC program.
There are three stages of VOC maturity:
Basic–You’re asking questions here and there, but there’s no consistency or defined process. Plus, you’re having some conversations and not documenting them in a centralized location.
Sophisticated--Your organization understands the importance of the VOC, are asking stakeholders the questions, and documenting them in a centralized location.
Progressive—You’re going beyond the “sophisticated” level by asking VOC questions at a regular cadence and documenting them in a centralized location. Then you’re analyzing the feedback and using it to drive revenue, better business outcomes, and improve customer relationships. So, you’re using that data to your advantage.
Determine which stage best matches the maturity of your VOC program so you can determine which steps to take to get to the next level.
When to ask VOC questions
There are some defining moments in the customer lifecycle journey where VOC conversations are essential. The following are key engagement points throughout the customer lifecycle journey:
1. During the sales process
The information you’re after at this stage includes:
- What is being promised during the sales process?
- Do we understand what the customers’ goals are?
- What does success look like to the customer?
2. Sales handoff to onboarding
The handoff transition is a crucial point. You want to make sure that things are going smoothly and that you understand the customer’s needs.
3. Onboarding stage
As an account manager, it’s important to have these VOC conversations at this point. If not, KAMs need to confirm that the implementation or onboarding manager is having these conversations and are documenting what is important to the customer.
4. During hard or challenging times
These include times like the pandemic, a recession, or when a project didn’t go well. Having these VOC conversations and diving into what is going on with your customer is critical in these circumstances.
5. Other important VOC opportunities
Additional times KAMs should ask VOC questions include during a QBR or monthly business review and a one-off conversation where the customer has some time to talk. These are opportunities to get into these really deep, open-ended, and strategic questions.
And don’t forget to document your findings and keep track of how the customer’s voice changes over time.
Create your VOC framework
Now you need to create your VOC framework if you don’t already have one in place. This framework designates how and when to ask VOC questions, and what to do with the customers’ responses.
Your customers expect you to not only listen to them but to also follow through and act on what they tell you. So, if you’re only listening to your customer, and not acting on what they tell you, you’re missing out on some major opportunities. This is why creating a VOC framework is crucial to the success of your program.
The 4 steps you need to include in your VOC framework are:
- Capture – Where are you capturing or documenting the VOC data?
- Analyze – You need to analyze this data and determine what it means in terms of what our customer is telling us.
- Share – VOC information and responses should be shared within the organization, especially as you’re trying to shift into a more customer-centric organization. Capturing this data and keeping it all to yourself, is counterproductive. So, think about how you’re sharing this information internally, not only when you have a good response from the customer, but when something didn’t go well. That’s important to analyze and share.
- Act – Once you’ve captured, analyzed, and shared the information internally, you need to act on it.
Customers expect you to follow through and respond. When a customer shares their goals and says they want you to help achieve them, you need to come back to them with a solution. Because, if you don’t follow through with a solution, you’re not being a strategic partner.
And when they give negative feedback, you need to tell them what you’re going to do to correct the situation and agree on the next steps. Run your plan by them and confirm that it sounds good to them, that the timeframe is right for them, and that they feel the proposed steps will resolve the issue.
So, the VOC framework is more than thinking about the questions to ask and when to ask them. You need to have a place to document them, a process for reviewing them, a method to share them, and a plan for acting. So, build your framework, then prepare a process for responding and taking action.
Create your process for responding and acting
Now that you have a framework in place for your VOC program, it’s time to create a process for responding and acting on your VOC insights.
Some customer feedback isn’t so great, but you need to consider a complaint a gift, because unhappy customers often just leave without a word, and you don’t know why. So, if you get the opportunity to have a customer tell you something didn’t go well, you should jump on that opportunity and make sure that you are taking action.
Developing a playbook for responding to specific types of feedback and acting on that feedback streamlines the process when the opportunity arises.
When a customer gives you positive feedback, figure out how to use it to enhance other parts of your business or improve relationships with other clients. It helps you know what you’re doing well, and what’s working.
Consider implementing a referral or customer advocacy program—a way to capture referrals. Or perhaps your marketing team would love that quote and your customer is willing to be featured in a success story or testimonial. So, use positive feedback to your advantage.
When the feedback was only so-so, think of ways to move the customer to a positive bucket instead of a negative bucket. It’s important to understand what would push them one way or another. So, if you have a neutral response, think about what would make them happy.
One option is to check with your support and product teams, depending on your type of business, to see if the customer has any open requests. Then try to get those pushed through to make them happy.
When a customer provides you with negative feedback, it’s important to listen, and understand what went wrong, why, and how you can fix it. Then put an action plan in place.
When a customer has an extremely negative experience and shares it with you, you have an incredible opportunity. You can turn them into a supporter by putting together a solution and helping solve the problem.
Take your VOC program to the next level
Now you know how to determine your VOC maturity, when to use VOC questions throughout the customer life cycle, how to create a framework for your VOC program, and how to respond and act on customer feedback. Work through these steps to improve your VOC program to boost customer experience, retention, and revenue. You’re sure to see positive results with a solid VOC program.
Reduce churn and boost profitability by establishing and following a KAM approach that includes a solid VOC program. Register for KAMGenius Plus, the only online video course taught by KAM experts in easy-to-consume bite-sized videos full of actionable tips plus 5 live sessions and certification.
Jennifer is a Senior Engagement Manager at Kapta