In a recent conversation with a chief technology officer, he asserted all digital technology changes in his organisation were being led by IT and not by marketing. It made me wonder: How long a marketing function like this could survive?
A voice of the customer (VoC) program can be a powerful way for marketers to collect customer feedback, mine feedback for insights, and incorporate those insights into business decisions. But what happens when there’s just too much data to manage?
A Forrester report released in April this year, The Top 10 Voice of the Customer Program Questions Answered, revealed while companies typically start VoC programs by fielding surveys that generate structured data about customers’ perceptions, it can leave them in a situation in which they are data-rich and insight-poor.
Keep it streamlined
“There are many types of customer data sources in so many different channels,” Holla Agency CEO and author of Customer Experience is the Brand, Alex Allwood, said. “From direct feedback through to surveys using SMS, email, Web and telephone, to indirect customer feedback through social media channels, brand research and employee satisfaction. And approximately 90 per cent of companies today capture some sort of customer feedback.
“But while many have experience in surveying, most struggle with analysing and acting on that feedback.”
Allwood suggested larger companies conduct a thorough data audit to optimise efficiency and streamline customer data processes.
“In larger companies capturing customer data is usually siloed and duplicated, leading to inefficiencies,” she said. “An audit is important to understand the state of play across the entire business, highlight gaps, streamline processes and optimise investments.”
Use the right data management tools
Experts agree the many great CRM tools on the market can help collate and analyse the data and automate processes to boost efficiency.
“The ongoing transaction data is where your CRM tool can give some good indications as to what is working and what needs attention,” Bastion Collective’s head of brand strategy, Kristen Boschma, said. “But I would argue a great VoC program needs to gather data from a variety of sources.”
Bastion Latitude focuses on creating bespoke online communities to gather VoC data, both periodic and project-led. Boschma said it gathers insights into what different customer segments think about pricing and product changes before a brand makes them.
“As well as transactional data and periodic assessment, you'll need to set up a regular listening program. This may include social media listening, call centre conversation recording and even intelligence supplied by vendors,” she advised.
Sugar CRM’s chief customer officer, Remy Malan, believes the best way to build closer relationships with customers is a comprehensive CRM platform that provides a single view of the customer by tracking each customer’s personal journey and buying cycle.
“CRM can be fully integrated into other tools, like marketing automation, to allow collation of data, such as social media, data analytics and more,” he said.
According to Malan, CRM for an enterprise is shifting from a view of “systems of transaction” into “systems of engagement”.
“This means organisations are looking to put themselves into their customers’ shoes, so to speak, and manage the entire customer lifecycle in a more holistic manner,” he explained. “As a result, sales, marketing, customer service and other customer-facing departments need to have the right tools and data access to be on the same page when it comes to identifying the customer across this lifecycle.
One company doing this effectively is P&N Bank in Western Australia, Malan said, which has leveraged the Sugar platform to build a more inclusive view of the customer.
“The bank also uses the platform to manage key points of the customer lifecycle,” he said. “This includes automating and tracking the success of referrals from retail banking associates into the loan team, as well as using Sugar to manage customer retention efforts.”
Boschma highlighted Australian telcos as examples of companies doing a great job of overlaying CRM, listening and conducting periodic assessments.
“However, I think the stand out for me is Qantas, which appears to be gathering data from all angles and acting on it,” she said. “I firmly believe that this, and other market factors, has contributed to the company’s strong business performance.”
Manage the customer data process daily
One company working to get daily customer data management right is professional development training company, PD Training. The group integrates data collection into its day-to-day processes, making it available to those providing information to the market.
“In our case, we collect qualitative and quantitative data from three sources: Course participants, course bookers and trainers,” PD Training managing director, Paul Findlay, explained. “We make sure the right customer voices are being listened to.”
The company also analyses the data in real time and can be accessed in a user-friendly format, Findlay said.
“We have built dashboards into our enterprise management and CRM systems that let operations, marketing, sales and management have the information they need when they need it,” he said. “We also have ongoing day-to-day monitoring of the data was built into our operating procedures so that we can be nimble in responding to what our customers are telling us.
“This way we learn from, and act on, the trends we see and the information given in the data collected. This may be as simple as responding quickly to a customer/stakeholder issue through to making improvements to our products, services and processes based on the strength of the data.”
Top tips to gaining deeper insights from your VoC data
1. Listen: Organisations need to identify key customer listening posts across channels and departments and then collect feedback through methods like surveys, social media, emails, and calls.
2. Interpret: VoC teams must analyse feedback to identify useful insights and make them relevant and accessible for employees across the company.
3. Act: To get value from customer insights, firms must act on them. Actions might include responding to individual customers, coaching employees, or changing experiences systemically.
4. Monitor: VoC teams also need to track the results of their efforts over time, from internal progress on action plans to the business results that they achieve through VoC-initiated actions.
This is the second part of a 3-part series looking into Voice of the Customer programs. Check out our first report on making sure your VoC efforts are disruptive enough here.
Source: Forrester’s report: The Top 10 Voice of the Customer Program Questions Answered