If you’re looking for ways to gain more value from customer feedback, one of the best things you can do is banish silos. We all know the perils of data silos, organization silos, and so forth. Beyond that, consider the silos of various components of customer experience management (CXM). For example, Voice-of-the-Customer (VoC) managers are often completely absorbed in the administration of customer listening posts. Separate groups may be in charge of analysis. And others are pursuing VoC actions or customer retention. In most companies, the various managers rarely compare notes or integrate their work.
Answers to “What is the level of coordination across B2B CXM practices?” Stronger business results were typical among companies with quarterly meetings, dotted line reporting, or single department. Source: ClearAction B2B CXM Best Practices Study
Untapped opportunities were highlighted for me as I analyzed our Business-to-Business Customer Experience Management Best Practices Study. Our questions explored ways of listening to customers, and then methods of viewing customer insights, and then practices for acting on the insights. When I pulled a specific bar graph from each section to tell a story in the report, it dawned on me: there’s a natural flow between CXM components that collectively reinforce better results.
I’d like to suggest connections between the following, with a flow of successive capability and outcomes. Practitioner evidence and additional research could confirm these logical connections. What would happen if we manage customer experience as a flow?
The big picture: Voice-of-the-Customer informs Business Intelligence, which informs CX Improvement, which informs CX Innovation, which informs Customer Engagement, which leads to Customer Retention & Loyalty, which lead to Business Growth.
By treating customer experience management as an ongoing flow like this, it makes sense that you will significantly increase your capability to demonstrate strong growth from customer experience excellence.
You’ll notice that it’s a lot like the old skeleton/’Dem Bones song: “The knee bone’s connected to the leg bone, . . . “.
What’s the value of knowing what’s connected to what? For medical professionals, knowing what parts of the body influence other parts is not only enlightening, but also a matter of life and death. I think this is a strong analogy for VoC and CXM!
The following flow is intended to maximize insights while minimizing burden on customers, and reducing your VoC costs.
The VoC details: Collect Complaints Anywhere Anytime combines with Collect VoC from Informal Interactions (non-front-line), which combines with Analyze Lost Sales and Monitor Positive/Negative Word-of-Mouth, and that leads to Text/Speech Mining, which zeros in on areas to explore with VoC via Front-Line Employees, which informs VoC via Execs and User Groups/Advisory Boards.
With all this knowledge, you’re now ready to invest in quantitative (ratings) monitoring, so you Identify All People who Influence Buying Decisions, then Identify a Sample of All Influencers, to participate in a combination of Transactional VoC and Relationship VoC, which leads to Consolidate Input from All Influencers, which leads to Data Analysis to Find Patterns and Key Drivers, which lead to Action Plans and Cross-Functional Collaboration, which leads to Transformation in the company that customers reward.
You may be wondering: “Wow, do I really need to do all of that in order to see rewards from customers?” Initially, no. Keep it simple. But follow the pattern. You wouldn’t want a doctor to rush in and conduct invasive surgery without first following a logical flow that maximizes insights while minimizing burden on you and him/her and everyone’s costs. Right?
The point: quit looking at everything in silos, quit asking customers to repeat themselves, quit “managing customer experience” without the aim of transforming the company to be better aligned with what customers need and value!
So the pattern to begin with, in order of occurrence, is:
- Leverage what you already have before going out to ask customers questions.
- Make extensive use of customer comments from all available sources (boxes 1 and 2 in the diagram) to:
- Cut to the end of the flow (box 5 in the diagram) in identifying root causes as key drivers of poor and good customer experience, creating action plans, driving cross-functional collaboration for transformation, and thereby earning trust, retention, and growth.
- And then, use insights from comments and organizational actions (1 and 2a, above) to design your entire VoC portfolio in a streamlined way that respects what you already know, what your customers want to talk about, how and when they want to give feedback, and what will help you further transform your business to be a no-brainer best-loved supplier.
- Add sophistication over time – not because everyone’s doing a certain thing – but because it contributes to keeping your entire business in-sync with customers.
Most likely what’s standing in the way of better response rates, insights that compel transformation, and tying VoC to financials is this: we’re connecting the head bone to the hip bone to the foot bone. For other business endeavors we typically step back and assess the big picture and how the parts should work together. That’s how we fix things in the human body. It’s how a mechanic fixes your car. And it rings true for most things in life.
Let’s banish silos that are inhibiting our VoC value flow. By doing so, we’ll not only see better ways to manage companies, but also make VoC a better experience for customers.
Originally published as an exclusive CustomerThink Advisor column; see readers’ and author’s comments: How to Increase Synergy in B2B Voice of the Customer. See the full B2B CXM series.