How to Know if Your Voice of the Customer Program is Working

Ward Andrews
By Ward Andrews
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How do you know if your customers are happy? What impact does customer experience have on your bottom line? How can you create a strong, viable Voice of the Customer program?

This is Part 3 in our series of posts exploring why customer experience is important and how to build a more customer-centric culture with a strong Voice of the Customer program. Read Part 1 and Part 2.

It’s Not the Metrics You Use, It’s How You Use the Metrics

You know you need to build a stronger customer-centric culture in your organization. You’ve started putting the building blocks in place for a strong Voice of the Customer (VoC) program to do just that.

But how will you know when your VoC program has started bearing fruit?

It’s always tempting to hang your hat on a single metric and use that to gauge progress. But when it comes to customer experience there is no single measurement that can show you the full picture.

That said, there are signs that can tell you both when your program might be in trouble and when it’s on the right track.

The key is not so much what metrics you use, but how you use the metrics available to you.

Why Most Voice of the Customer Programs Fail

Let’s start with what you don’t want to see. There’s no single metric or test or number that will tell you if your Voice of the Customer program is going to survive or not. But there are several symptoms that can tell you things may be heading in the wrong direction.

If you see any of the following, you need to put a plan in place to address them ASAP or you’ll soon see your program start to unravel.

Symptom 1: Lack of Real Change and Innovation

It takes any Voice of the Customer program time to get off the ground. But you can tell if your program is working by the real improvements showing up in your product or service.

If you don't see tangible results it means one of two things. Either you don't understand your customers, or your best ideas are getting chewed up and spit out.

You need to get on the same page with your customers and your employees. Make sure you're working toward building a unified experience. Customers should be seeing meaningful changes that benefit and delight them.

Symptom 2: Over-Emphasis on Metrics, Tools and Processes The goal of any Voice of the Program is to drive measurable business results. However, very few efforts can directly impact any single metric or outcome. You simply can’t control for all the things that may cause specific metrics to rise or fall.

Metrics are a gauge to uncover what you need to fix. They're not an end-all, be-all measurement of your program. Don't bog down your best intentions with requirements tied to specific tools and processes. This stifles creative problem-solving and forces employees to dig deeper into their silos. That ultimately leaves customers to fend for themselves.

Symptom 3: Lack of Focus or Purpose Support for new ideas and programs tends to fade over time. If you find yourself part of a shrinking group of advocates for your VoC program, it’s time to act. Get in front of your leadership team and make sure they're committed to the program for the long haul.

Are your leaders modeling expected behaviors? Are your frontline employees empowered to offer suggestions and fix problems? Is there clear and consistent two-way communication? Answering “no” to any of these questions can be a sign that you need to reset your focus.

The Myth of One Metric to Rule Them All

For decades, Net Promoter Score (NPS) has been one of the most popular methods to measure customer experience and loyalty. Research from Temkin Group suggests that more than 70% of large companies use some form of NPS score. Two-thirds of them say it has had a positive impact on their organization. Companies like Intuit, Apple, AirBnb, and Amazon have lived by NPS as their main customer love metric.

Even with all its advantages and popularity, NPS is not a perfect metric. For example, it’s most effective in measuring customer experience in industries where there are a number of substantial players so customers have a real choice and can easily switch providers if they’re not happy.

Additionally, more mature industries with widespread adoption and awareness of the available products and services see more of a correlation between NPS and growth. Relatively newer industries can see growth because of technological advancements rather than customer experience.

There is no single question you can ask customers that will represent exactly how they feel about their entire customer journey. There is no magic metric that will tell you what you need to do to become more customer-centric. It’s more important how you apply NPS (and other metrics) to your overall customer experience efforts. Use them as internal benchmarks to gauge your progress. Check them against each other to understand what they reveal about your customers. But don't rely on one as your ultimate source of truth.

Measure Your VoC Program With a Variety of Feedback Types

Without a single catch-all metric, it's important to gather customer feedback in a variety of ways. This means strategically asking different types of questions (NPS, satisfaction, etc.), planning the frequency of surveys and feedback, and diversifying the methods you use to gather feedback (email, telephone, in-person, etc.).

At the same time that you want to gather a number of different types of feedback, you want to maintain the consistency of your methods and techniques. For example, people want to be agreeable when talking to another person, but feel that pressure less when taking online surveys.

This means you need to think through how you ask for feedback. Identify the channels and metrics that make the most sense for you and your customers. Then resist the urge to combine or compare metrics across different types or channels. If administered carefully and consistently, each metric can reveal a key insight about your customers and their needs.

UX Rings - Another Tool for the Toolbox

We've developed a tool to help you measure customer or user experience in a way that complements NPS and other feedback mechanisms. UX Rings can provide a granular at-a-glance look at where your user or customer experience stands today. We've used it with businesses of all sizes to measure everything from internal tools to customer service.

We ask 25 questions designed to measure your current customer experience in five key areas: Functionality, Usability, Comfort, Delight, and Meaningfulness. The resulting score not only shows where you stand with customers but offers tips on how to improve your scores. The high-level scores rank how your experience is impacting users and include a simulated NPS score and letter grade.

Customers also have the opportunity to share more detailed feedback. This gives you an easy way to search keywords, filter responses, and understand the prevailing sentiment. Best of all, you can distribute it through a custom survey link or by embedding it in your app or website.

It’s a flexible and easy way to measure your current user experience and identify the improvements that will most effectively move you up the experience success ladder.

The Score is Not All That Matters

More important than what you measure is how you apply the insights from that measurement. Whether it's UX Rings, NPS, or any other customer experience metric, the ultimate goal is not to achieve a specific score. You really want measurements of how the quality of your customer experience improves over time. That's what will help you build connections that lead to long-term profitable organic growth.

You can’t control everything that could cause your customer experience score to rise or fall, and you can’t assume that a rise in scores is good for net revenue. The best you can do is track the metrics that matter most to you and keep an eye on how those affect the bottom line.

Not Sure If Your Voice of the Customer Program is Working?

We’ve seen plenty of customer experience initiatives falter because of some combination of the reasons mentioned above. If you feel like you’re falling into these traps, we can help.

Take our free 5-minute Customer Experience Self-Assessment to get a glimpse into how meaningful your current customer experience is, and then let us know what you’re struggling with and we’ll throw you a lifeline!