Thursday, February 14, 2013

Voice of Customer Feedback in Frontier Markets (Part 1)

Customer Experience relies on an ongoing conversation with your customer, and there are many ways that this can be done. Ideally, voice of customer (VOC) feedback should provide both quantitative and qualitative insights to improve the customer experience as engagement takes place. You use this as part of customer experience design, and then also plug it into ongoing VOC monitoring that can serve as a source of metrics. You can use qualitative feedback to identify new solutions to ongoing customer issues, and can also go back to that customer to ask further questions. In emerging and frontier markets, this is just as important. Some methods need to be altered for these markets, and there also exist specific approaches that work well in these markets.

Here are a few approaches you might want to consider to get more information from your stakeholders. This is just a few of hundreds of different approaches you can use.  

Employee/Customer panels This is a classic, right? But you can change the focus of these panels to gain additional insights you might not have expected before. Bring together a group of employees or customers, and ask them to provide insights on the customer lifecycle. Ask them what their pain points in working with you are, and how their ideal organization would engage them, and what is most important to them. If you can continue to meet with the same group over time, you can dig deeper into what was identified as a key issue in previous sessions, and you can also track the impact of changes you make to the experience over time.

Customer Satisfaction surveys Inside of the VOC space, this is considered extremely valuable, but also a source of continuous debate. What should be asked? How should we ask it? How do we pick our respondent pool? These are all questions you have to ask yourself, but developing an ongoing CSAT is great for tracking results over time. Ideally, you want both a transactional CSAT that measures satisfaction at different points in the customer lifecycle, and an overall CSAT that can inform you of customers’ satisfaction with your entire experience. Using this, you will be able to identify what has the highest impact on overall satisfaction, which is where you need to concentrate on providing the best experience. If you have a relatively simple approach to CSATs, you might try using an SMS survey to collect this information.

Even if you have a good name for it, if
you don't push your suggestion  box,
you won't get responses
Suggestion boxes on steroids - It seems like every retail establishment and restaurant in the world has a suggestion box. And when you open it, it almost always seems to have one submission in it from 2005. But it doesn’t have to be this way.  In some countries, suggestion cards are everywhere, and are almost expected to be completed and returned with a bill. But building up this culture in a place where your customers are not used to it, requires engaging your employees. If you train your employees to seek out suggestions, and promote response cards in the establishment, you can gain real insights and value from them. If your customers are illiterate, you can make it a conversation, where your employees take a quick survey at the end of the engagement. This also can reinforce the experience for employees if you have them process these surveys at the end of the day, looking for areas of improvement.

VOC Ambassadors—Ambassador programs are used by many different organizations, including Barclays, Fidelity, and Walt Disney.  But you don’t have to be a Fortune 500 firm to build a successful ambassador program. Typically, this is done by identifying employees who show a strong interest and understanding in what the customer wants and needs. You then train them on how to collect customer feedback inside their function, and then empower them to engage other employees inside their function as well. Promote not only feedback, but ideas for innovation as well, and this becomes a great change management tool.

VOC Listening posts Once you have feedback collected, you can use that information to educate your employees on what your customers are saying. Tape recorded conversations, summaries of comments, and videos of customer interactions are great ways to put the customer front and center in the minds of your employees.

Like I said, these are just a few starting points you can use. You may notice a trend: incorporating VOC feedback into the organization through your employees is a great way to also ensure a stakeholder experience is prioritized by everyone in the organization, which will help in creating a stakeholder obsessed operation.

Tomorrow, I will cover a few tools you might want to consider using when launching a VOC program in an emerging or frontier market. 


  1. Nice post Glenn!
    On the B2B front, the Product management team does yearly customer interviews of the top 10 existing customers on existing products. Although there are other touch points to get VOC, namely operations, care etc.
    As far as new product development is concerned, VOC is obtained by doing customer evaluation of a business idea during its incubation stage.

    PS- Heard about ambassadors of Kentucky Bourbon on NPR last night. Thats a great way to get VOC.

  2. Great point Munz. When I was talking about ambassador programs, it was in reference to employees who take CX principles back to their functional area. But this can just as easily be used in the marketplace as well. In those cases, the ambassadors can advocate for the company in the market place, but should also be used as a sounding board for what is important to them as the company develops. I wonder if Maker's Mark had consulted their ambassadors before announcing they would water down their product?

  3. No, Makers mark did not consult their ambassadors about it at all. As a matter of fact they didnt like it at all.

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