Sunday Readings #4 // How the quest for understanding customers’ needs impacts their journeys & experiences

How many of these little pop-ups that ask you for feedback did you click away? And how many of those emails that ask you to take a short survey did you delete without even opening them in recent days, weeks and months?

We do it every day. As do most customers. Because business and brand owners, enthused by all these new opportunities at their fingertips, tend to overdo it once again …

The digital transformation has revolutionized the way we are able to ask customers for their feedback. Instead of lengthy surveys where people are asked what they did and felt 8 months ago during the time of a transaction, we are now able to ask and get feedback ‘in the moment’ – in real-time. Businesses like Medallia, Qualtrics, Usabilla, or others thrive and have grown exponentially by building products, services and, ultimately, integrated platforms around what we today call VOC Listening (VOC = Voice of the Customer).

These platforms have many advantages above traditional market research. And with the arrival of AI into text analysis, etc. become smarter every day – with one of the great features being, that you can shorten surveys in a customer friendly way, while getting important answers on questions that you never asked. This was a big problem before, as customers in traditional surveys could only answer those questions that researchers asked them. And those might not be relevant to customers and their decision making – garbage in, garbage out!

In this sense, real-time VOC Listening is a great step forward in catching customers’ needs, perception, satisfaction, etc. and understanding their frustrations and pain points. But there is a big mistake, that a lot of companies make:

They are so enthused about this great new opportunity, that some of them tend to overdo it!

Why? First, because they ask their customers so many times across so many different touchpoints that people get fed up with it very fast. Those businesses do not understand, that the feedback gathering process creates customer touchpoints in itself and becomes part of the customer journey. And, worst case, creates new pain points because customers can’t stand all those pop-ups, emails, etc. Thus, it is very important to establish clear rules when and how often a single customer is approached for feedback through a VOC platform. However, that’s only possible if you have a working CRM system allowing for a Single Customer View. If your business doesn’t even know that it is asking the same customer twice, there’s a lot of data integration base work to be done before you can truly exploit VOC listening’s full potential.

Secondly, a lot of companies tend to focus on ‘marketing-performance questions’ rather than truly aiming to understand customer’s needs and frustrations. Thus, a lot of those questions asked, are not really relevant for those customers. This leads to drop outs and even more frustration. And it’s not good for businesses who use VOC listening either. They won’t get any insights into what really matters to customers and, in the eyes of their customers, they burn the great tool that VOC listening is or at least could be.

Thirdly, in most cases, customers don’t get an answer to what is actually done with their feedback. Will it drive improvement initiatives? How has feedback changed things for the better in the past? Or in other words, if there is no visible benefit for customers from spending their valuable time answering questions why should they bother in the first place? Thus, closing the loop on customers’ feedback both, in terms of issue resolution and structural improvements is crucial.

In short, if you want to make use of the great opportunities that real-time VOC listening offers, carefully think of how customers feel about the process of feedback generation itself, what’s acceptable and what’s not, and – most importantly – how you can make sure that this feedback is put to good use in a way that is visible to and an creates value for both, your customers and your business.

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