Author: Mbinkar, Kpunsa Fomunyuy.
This article on the voice of the customer aims at defining what this term means, identifying ways of collecting customer feedback and demonstrating a practical approach that can be used by organizations of any size to manage their voice of customer programs.
The products and services we produce are destined for use by the customer. One key function of the marketing manager is to identify customer needs and to ensure the products and services produced can meet these needs, then figure out how to communicate this value to the customers. This is important because when the products and services meet the customers’ expectations, they would be more likely to purchase and less likely to use competitive products. The only way to know if we were are able to achieve this objective is by gathering feedback from the customer. This is what we call listening to the voice of the customer.
Every organization needs to put in place a mechanism to capture the customer’s voice at the different contact points with the organization. Feedback collection is an ongoing process that involves everyone at every time. Sometimes the customers’ remarks may not be of any value to one person or department but if we were to put all these remarks together we would begin to see patterns.
Feedback collection is an ongoing process that involves everyone at every time.Mbinkar Kpunsa Fomunyuy
Every feedback given by the customer needs to be recorded and shared with a central organ in charge of reviewing it. The work does not however end here, it is important to summarize these opinions and see how they can serve in improving the overall customer experience or the ability of the products to meet customer needs or specifications.
A good starting point in strategic feedback management would be to answer the following questions:
- What do our customers think about us?
- How can we make the service better?
- Do we use feedback collected to improve processes and systems?
- What can we do better?
What do our customers think about us?
There are so many ways to know what customers think about us. To begin with, feedback can be collected in 3 ways. There is direct feedback, which is asking the customers directly what they think about the services. There is indirect feedback which is learning what customers think about you through other intermediaries and lastly, there is inferred feedback that involves analyzing the customer’s words, comments, and statements and determining their emotional state and feelings about us.
From simple methods such as handing customers a feedback form, to verbal questions on how they feel about the service or following their comments on our forums or social media, every organization needs to figure out the best method of collecting feedback from their customers can be. This method would depend on the type of services offered and the manner in which customers come in contact with your organization.
You and your team should be able to sit together and answer this question. How do we know what the customers think about us? Takedown the points raised and adopt your own customer service feedback strategy. Appoint someone who would be in charge of reviewing all feedback collected if such a person does not exist. Have weekly reports on the feedback from customers with emphasis on what has been done in each case. Contact customers to thank them for their feedback, notifying them of corrective actions that you are putting in place when negative feedback is given.
How can you make service better?
The purpose of collecting feedback is not just to know what the customer thinks about us, but for us to use this information to improve processes and tailor the products and services to customers’ needs. To make something better you must first know the state which it is. Begin with internal feedback from internal customers (the employees, the suppliers) then go to the external feedback from users and buyers. Identify what customers feel you are not doing right and develop a strategy for improvement.
Do we use feedback collected (voice of the customer) to improve processes and systems?
When we learn to listen to the voice of the customer we would identify loopholes in our processes and systems. We would see that sometimes the problem is the approach we are using. Sometimes we have great products but the wrong approach. Are our processes and systems designed to improve the experience customers have with us or to satisfy our work organization?
Can we honestly say that the step by step approach we use to serve customers is customer-centric? Do these processes make it tedious for customers to get our products and services? Do our processes make it tedious for customers to react and interact with us? For once, become the customer and walk through the process yourself, feel what they feel, then decide if that is what you want as a customer. Whatever feelings you would have, the customers’ feelings are definitely the worst.
What can we do better?
At the end of the day, it is all about improving. Doing better. Offering a better experience to the customers. I would say here that you cannot get what you do not measure. Set clear objectives on why you need to listen to the voice of the customer. How do you intend to do so. What you would do with the information obtained. Who would be in charge? How often would the team review the feedback collected and make a commitment to reach out to customers as well as take into consideration their voice while considering improvements to be made.