Before you implement a Voice of the Customer solution, it's important to set yourself up for success. Organizational awareness and adoption of customer experience best practices are necessary for it to take hold.
Voice of the Customer software rollout is an exercise in change management—in leading the human side of change. As in any management situation, it helps to have a structured process to achieve your desired outcome.
Before you chirp out a poorly planned rollout, carefully consider the potential consequences of failure. There are very real risks in failing to implement customer experience solutions. Here are a few:
Ignored Customer Feedback: If you haven't prepared your people for the change, your implementation just might receive the dreaded “not in my job description” response. (For the record, that would be: bad.)
General Eye Rolling: If your company tends to shift vision and direction with the weather, employees may avoid commitment. They could see customer feedback as another soon-to-be-a-memory initiative.
Defensive Reactions: If you don't manage their awareness, employees may feel threatened, respond with anger, or turn to internal gossip. Employees should understand that the new platform isn't for their punishment, but for the greater good of everyone involved.
Shadowy Data Manipulation: Failing to prepare people for the reality of harsh feedback—and also the opportunity in addressing it—can lead to negative outcomes. In trying to keep up appearances, employees may feel compelled to coerce good feedback, cherry-pick the best customers, or stuff the ballot box in their favor.
Shrugged-Off Insights: Given a lack of preparation and understanding, management may discount any insights discovered through the program. On the other side of the coin, you may find that if you fail in your change management, employees may find ways to simply rationalize feedback away.
Now that we’ve gone over some of the risks of failure, let’s dive into four customer experience best practices to help you succeed.
1. Build awareness, and plan communications.
A key part of any Voice of the Customer rollout is building awareness around the need for feedback. If you haven't invited feedback from your customers—or at least, not in a formal, ongoing sense—then your people will need to understand the shift. For starters, consider every party that will be impacted by your rollout, then approach communications from the "What's in it for me?" perspective. Make sure to emphasize that customer feedback will be used for continuous improvement—not as input into performance or compensation decisions.
Also plan for repeated messages, starting pre-launch and continuing throughout your feedback collection. That will give time for the implementation to sink in, give time for employees to express their concerns, and help you manage your customer experience strategy moving forward.
2. Involve employees.
Employees are part of your collective "we," so don't hesitate to involve them. You might consider establishing a cross-functional team to give input into the design of your Voice of the Customer program. Encourage the team to provide insight on question design, alert design, closed loop standards, and anything else that could use a ground-level perspective.
Make sure it's clear that everyone on the team should bring ideas from their respective groups, and also that they'll share decisions. It will help you gain commitment to participation and follow-up. Additionally, it also helps to make being part of the cross-functional customer experience team a high-profile role. Consider asking senior leadership to recognize the importance of their efforts.
As you continue on, make sure to gather feedback from employees during your ongoing Voice of the Customer strategy. By ensuring their voice is heard and incorporated into effective action, you'll make it clear it's everyone's responsibility to fix issues and build better experiences.
3. Spur informal influencers to tell their stories.
Internal change agents can be invaluable in getting initiatives to take hold. Before you roll out an enterprise feedback management system, find and engage your company's influencers and trailblazers.
If possible or necessary, you can conduct a pilot using a team with a passionate customer advocate at the helm. If that leader tends to be an early adopter and risk taker, even better. The team can help you prove implementation can be successful. Other employees will take stock of the team's recommendation of the approach, their lessons learned, and their storytelling about benefits of listening and responding to feedback.
4. Balance the customer feedback.
Balancing positive and negative feedback is key to a strong customer experience strategy. If you only highlight negative feedback, you can instill a sense of defeat and complacency. Be sure to give customers opportunities to express their gratitude for exceptional experiences. If you share good feedback with the employees that delivered those experiences, as well as their managers, other employees will notice.
You may also want to build a formal recognition program for the employees that are most often recognized by customers. Tap into the best employees as your internal customer experience experts and brand ambassadors. Moving forward, use their insights to help you deliver and improve customer experience.
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Posted on 04-01-2015