By Kay Cruse, Strategex VP, VOC Strategic Practice
The Customer Experience (CX) most often documented through a Voice of the Customer (VOC) study has been gaining progressive interest not only in the C-suite, but also on Wall Street. According to documents reviewed by The Wall Street Journal, the number of mentions of NPS (Net Promoter Scoring) in earnings calls ballooned from 5 mentions in 2005 to 155 mentions in 2018.
The real issue, however, is not just NPS, but importantly, what’s driving the score and what actions should the company consider to improve its performance.
Here are five best practices when conducting VOC studies that move companies beyond a single NPS metric. It starts with understanding that the best methodology is not a web-based survey where the response rate is less than 4%, but instead a robust and holistic interview with customers that will achieve a 75-80% response rate while providing meaningful and thoughtful insights.
1) Interview a wide range of customers.
Top customers? Absolutely. But target underperforming accounts as well. Go beyond the main contact and interview other functions within the business. Look for key decision makers and other people who have strong influence or control over the account’s relationship with the target company, including procurement, R&D, technical, or service people.
2) Hire a professional interviewer.
If conducting interviews with an in-house team, customers tend to not be as open. An internal team’s range of questions tend to work at validating the team’s own perceptions and may not be as telling about the customer relationships. A professional interviewer, on the other hand, will be not only objective and neutral but also be able to draw out more information, insights, and nuances as a result of their expertise.
3) Identify what to ask.
Ratings on performance issues and insights on strengths, areas of improvement, and Net Promoter Scores are all very valuable. To identify the company’s greatest potential, go beyond a health check.
Useful questions to ask include:
- “How easy is it to do business with the company?”
- “How quickly does the company resolve problems?”
- “How does the company engage with you?”
- “How do you perceive the company’s ability to be a partner and help you achieve success?”
4) Look to the future:
Use the interviews to uncover unmet needs and determine how well does the company supports the customers’ innovation efforts. Even better: suggest product or service enhancements that are on the drawing board to gauge customers’ real interests.
5) Turn insights into action:
A solid VOC will give you a vast amount of knowledge to help in creating a strategic plan with your team. It will help the organization become intimate with the company’s customers. That intimacy enables you and your team to push strategic growth in addition to operational improvements. For example, if a customer mentions that order processing and fulfillment could use improvement, you can hit the ground running by streamlining and simplifying order paperwork.
Customers are more often than not highly willing – and able – to shine a light into all the dark recesses into your company culture, performance, and future. You just have to ask.
Kay Cruse is a Vice President at Strategex. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.