Published on August 5, 2021 by Vandana Ahuja
Unlocking organisational success with the Voice of the Customer programme (an 8-part series)
This is part 5 of 8 our comprehensive series of blogs on the Voice of Customer.
Stay tuned for more blogs.
We learnt in Part 4 of this series about key metrics and KPIs used to determine the performance of the customer experience programme. This blog shows how all departments/lines of business (LOBs) are driven by the VoC programme and how it has helped companies improve and evolve over time.
Companies that have adopted the VoC approach see that the actions of all departments/LOBs are highly influenced by the VoC programme. Customer needs and preferences feature among the top priorities of all LOBs (e.g., product development, project management, marketing, sales and customer support). The success of the VoC programme and the company’s thereafter would depend on how well its departments approach and implement customer feedback.
In most organisations, the VoC programme is headed and implemented by the marketing team. The customer’s product requirements are then shared with the product development team. However, this is easier said than done. Although the marketing team advocates the user needs of the product, the product team may see incorporating those needs as demanding more of their time and expenses. The development team may take its own time to discuss and negotiate product design, which could be frustrating for both the marketing and product teams and also for other teams involved.
It is similar with operations; alignment with the marketing team on the basis of VoC analysis could be difficult in the event the marketing team is leading the programme. Therefore, it is advisable that all LOBs be involved from the start of planning the VoC programme – such as in deciding on the questions for the survey – to actively participating in VoC discussions with customers and implementing user preferences in the product/service. This way, each team would learn directly from the customer and be aware of their preferences.
Making VoC an inclusive process will streamline business processes, ensure a product or service that meets customer needs and help the organisation present a united front to its customers.
VoC should be deployed in all aspects of the business. We explain below how VoC impacts departments/LOBs and how each plays a role in the success of the VoC programme.
Product Development: The VoC programme is a key input for product development. Collating customer needs and preferences in the form of feedback is key to the success of any new product. VoC should be an integral part of the process, carried through the course of the design cycle. VoC helps gauge the viability of any new product idea and helps the developers develop a product in line with current market needs. With the accelerated pace of technological and network advancements, companies are leveraging customer preferences for product innovation and also in terms of product features, specifications and design.
Project Management: A project manager and consultants are assigned for each project, and they are responsible for the accurate and timely delivery of the product, especially for complex physical or software products. VoC leverages customer feedback to help the team improve certain aspects of product delivery including timeliness, ensuring upgrades are implemented in the same efficient manner as for the actual product, the availability of knowledgeable consultants and project managers, and managing staff attrition during a project.
Customer Support: Aftersales service is of paramount importance to a customer following the purchase of any service, solution or product. An excellent client support experience increases the chances of renewal and referral through word of mouth. Organisations need to consider customer feedback and address problem areas, which may range from issues related to the process to lock a support ticket, the ticket tool used, timeliness and availability to knowledgeability and behaviour of support staff. VoC keeps a check on the performance of customer support staff and drives the team to get higher scores. Qualitative inputs can be of great help if acted upon.
Marketing: Knowing customer needs is critical to marketing. Marketing is an integral part of any organisation that attempts to design product features and advertise/market them to influence customer perception. The organisation understands customer needs through VoC and converts these to customer preferences using marketing material that attracts new customers, while retaining the old ones. The VoC initiative should also be prominent in all the marketing material used, including webinars, commercials, social media and conferences.
Billing/Invoicing: Sharing accurate and timely invoices with the client is in the best interests of any organisation. Much complexity is involved in the invoicing process due to multi-tier taxation/customised pricing/adjustments that sometimes lead to errors. VoC does not help rectify such instances but can certainly help identify the source and trends of issues, and avoid such errors in the future.
Training: The organisation’s staff are trained based on feedback on different aspects (communication, technical issues, timeliness); this could include engagement managers, relationship managers, support executives and product developers.
Compliance/Governance Body: The compliance team also needs to ensure the contract-signing process is smooth by considering customer input on legal aspects. Contract negotiations of large and complex B2B deals take time, sometimes prompting clients to switch to another company.
In addition to the LOBs/departments mentioned above, the involvement of other areas such as sales, operations, pricing, onboarding and logistics in the VoC process would be helpful. Each department would bring a new perspective on how to deliver on customer needs in the best way possible.
As VoC has evolved over the years, it has played an indispensable role in making all the departments of a company work together for positive growth. This coordinated approach has improved the customer experience, resolved customer issues and increased revenue streams through renewals and new customers. Such inclusion would mean that all the business lines are involved in the VoC process throughout the customer lifecycle; a cross-functional presence would make the VoC programme and the business a success.
How Acuity Knowledge Partners can help
Acuity Knowledge Partners has been providing research and insight support to diverse stakeholders in the technology sector – tech corporates, tech advisory firms, and tech-focused investors – for nearly two decades. Equipped with a 360o view, we understand how customer data can be captured and analysed, and how the story emanating thereof can be leveraged to achieve better business outcomes. We help Fortune 500 technology corporations, mid-tier firms, and start-ups leverage customer feedback on people, products, and processes to remain flexible and better serve their customers.
The Essential Guide to Voice of the Customer, Gainsight
Voice of Customer (VOC) in product development - an inclusive approach, Linkedin, Oct 2017
Voice of the Customer, Working Paper, Mit.edu
How to Use Voice of the Customer: 6 Examples from Successful Businesses, Testimonial Hero
Voice of the Customer, NPD Solutions
Customer involvement in product development Using Voice of the Customer for innovation and marketing, Research Gate, Sep 2019
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About the Author
Vandana Ahuja is part of the Private Equity and Consulting team in Acuity Knowledge Partners, Gurgaon. Currently working as a strategic consultant for a financial technology firm in the customer experience domain. She has over 10 years of experience in Strategic analysis, Business research and consulting.
She has diverse experience of working with top consulting companies across various industries and geographies. She has managed and executed various consulting projects involving competitor analysis, industry studies, company profiling, survey analysis and strategic recommendations, trend analysis, verbatim and sentiment analysis. She has managed various consulting clients.
She holds a degree in Master of Business Administration (M.B.A) with specialization in Finance and Bachelor of Arts (B.A) in Economics.
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