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In this Guide…

Don’t get hung up on the details of your VoC programme. Instead, use these 3 customer-centric best practices to guarantee success.

If you believe that a successful business depends on happy customers you’ll want to make sure you’re using the best method to capture the voice of those customers and use it to drive improvements in satisfaction.

The problem is that there are lots of competing ideas: different VoC metrics, technology choices (is AI living up to its promise yet?), and arguments over how much VoC surveys should overlap with market research.

Fortunately you don’t need to get hung up on whether NPS is better than CSAT, or whether a 7-point customer effort scale beats a 5-point scale. Following these three principles will make a much bigger impact on your business and your customers’ experience.

The three golden rules are designed to achieve a clear goal:

Customer feedback should make a direct impact on the business.

Basically, you’re not doing it right unless your Voice of the Customer programme is actively being used to improve customer experience — and driving concrete upticks in spend, retention and word-of-mouth recommendations.

The key to unlocking all these benefits is to change feedback from a soul-destroying survey completion into an experience with a positive outcome.

Best of all, it’s really easy once you know how.

1. Send VoC Surveys at the best time.

Everyone we speak to wants the highest response rates and the best quality data.

Of course they do: If you’re already getting customer feedback, you discover how useful it is, so you want more.

So how can you get higher response rates for surveys, and better quality data?

Timing is critical

It’s a hard lesson to learn, but the worst time to ask for feedback is when you decide you want some.

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t start your VoC project, but think survey timing through carefully

So when’s the best time to ask for customer feedback?

We know from the evidence we’ve amassed through hundreds of implementations and millions of survey completions, that the best times to ask for feedback are the times when your customers are most likely to want to give it.

That may sound obvious but in practice it means different things for different companies, because it depends on a few factors. For example,

  • If you’re in services… The best time could be after they’re established as a new client…
  • If you’re in online retail… It could be after they’ve received the product;
  • But if you’re in utilities, it could be after a call to your contact centre

Map out your customer journeys and pinpoint the times when your customers interact with you and rely on you most.

The skill is in choosing the time based on the customer’s point of view, rather than when you decide you want to send out surveys.

Simplifying the ‘timing’ question also answers another common question: Should you increase response rates by ‘beggging’ for responses via reminder emails and SMS?

You might get more data, but at the cost of annoying people and decreasing satisfaction: What’s a more important metric: response rate or CSAT?

Read our guide to timing VoC surveys, it will help you arrive at the best touchpoints for both your business and your customers.

You can’t get better results than asking for feedback when customers have the strongest desire to give it.

2. Make it impressively easy for customers to give feedback.

Another way to increase the volume and quality of feedback is to make it fast and easy. Aim for 20 seconds. Don’t limit it to that, a customer may want to tell you more, but don’t force them to spend longer.

There are two reasons why this is important. The first and most obvious is that a customer only needs about 20 seconds to tell you how they feel about you and why it’s positive, or what you need to do better.

Keeping it short shows that you’re thinking of their interests and respecting their time, and that’s key to a good customer experience.

The second reason is that if you burden customers to complete a long survey it’s counter-productive in other ways too. You’ll reduce response rates and learn less. Because although customers do want to give feedback, they’re not happy about the time-consuming surveys that most companies use.

Keep it fast and simple, and only ask questions about things that are important to your customers.

You can learn about the best questions for a Voice of the Customer survey in our guide.

3. Act on feedback as the customer would reasonably expect.

Once you’re receiving good volumes of high quality feedback it might feel like mission accomplished.

But if your goal is to improve customer satisfaction rather than just measure it, you have work to do: Your customers haven’t felt the benefits yet!

However well intentioned you are about using their feedback to make improvements, unless you have a process for follow-up, the danger is they’ll wonder why they gave feedback at all because it will feel as though their comments have been completely ignored.

Regrettably, (and you’ll know this if you ever complete satisfaction surveys), this is usually true.

Without a carefully designed follow-up strategy you will:

  • Leave customers feeling ignored, and unlikely to recommend you to others;
  • Anger, or even lose, customers who have reported urgent issues in feedback which are causing them pain;
  • Receive mediocre satisfaction scores and miss out on the financial benefits that an increase in satisfaction should drive.

That means there’s a negative financial impact if you don’t follow up effectively, rather than the positive impact you were hoping for, and it’s why this third golden rule is the most important.

Feedback is a two-edged sword. If you invite it, you can really impress your customers by making them feel that you’ve listened to them. And they’ll be much more likely to continue giving you feedback in future. It becomes a virtuous circle.

However if you invite feedback and don’t act on it, or at least respond in a way they might reasonably expect, then it sends a signal that you’ve ignored it. And that’s worse than not asking at all because you’ve raised customers’ expectations, and then failed to meet them.

A good follow-up strategy leads to a great reputation.

Sometimes people worry that it will create of extra work, but if there was ever an opportunity to work smarter rather than harder, this is it.

In fact not following up on feedback means you’re effectively accepting the risk of losing customers. Compare it to following up a list of qualified sales leads (which hopefully needs no encouragement).

Both activities generate revenue, it’s just that one does it by increasing new business and the other does it by increasing retention and word-of-mouth referrals.

In Summary, VoC best practice looks like this

  1. Ask at the best times.
  2. Make it impressively easy to give feedback.
  3. There’s no impact unless you follow up.

Whichever scale or method of scoring you use, the three golden rules benefit both company and customer. A positive experience for a customer who gives feedback leads to better business for the company.

Read the case studies our customers have written to discover how this approach has helped their businesses.

Take the first step…

Connect with a CX expert who’ll help determine your current VoC programme maturity level and provide a 3-step action plan to improve.