There’s a good reason why the old adage ‘change is good’ still rings true. It keeps us on our toes, enables us to re-invent ourselves, and keeps us competitive.

In the corporate world, many suggest that the only real constant in business is change, but Phil Durand at Confirmit asks, how do you make it work for you and not against you?

Whether you are reacting to enforced change because of new entrants into the market or endeavouring to improve business processes to increase revenue, one thing is clear: listening to your most important asset – your customers – is the most effective way to manage or control the rate of change and to ensure that any adjustments to products, services, or the organisation itself will deliver positive results for the business.

Customers provide invaluable reviews and recommendations but they are also often the first to identify a problem with a new piece of kit or a problem with billing, calling into the contact centre, or posting a comment on Twitter.

It’s no surprise then that Customer Experience (CX) is regarded as central to reputation, sales, and business success overall.

It also explains why organisations are increasingly taking a ‘customer first’ attitude to every facet of their business in order to take a proactive approach in evolving customer requirements and preferences to retain their business and goodwill.

Making CX a board-level issue – and establishing customer metrics as strategic KPIs alongside sales and profit targets – is bringing CX into the heart of the business.

There are some great examples of Voice of the Customer (VoC) programmes that are helping businesses identify what they need to do to improve Customer Experience and thereby increase customer retention, identify the most profitable products or customers, and reduce the cost of dissatisfaction and complaints.

One company that’s doing an excellent job of using customer feedback to change the way they operate is Virgin Money.

They’re a finalist in several categories of the UK CX Awards this year, and it’s not hard to see why. Their highly structured VoC programme focuses on new, existing, and former customers, as well as directly helping to increase revenues and customer satisfaction. It’s also driving culture change – something that underpins everything else.

There is also growing recognition that Voice of the Employee (VoE) programmes can help to drive employee engagement at the frontline, empowering employees to recommend enhancements to business processes that will improve customer satisfaction whilst ensuring they have the skills, motivation, and permission to use their initiative ‘on the spot’.

However, the challenge going forward is how to improve our ability to look ahead, to predict the next big thing, and knowing what is at risk.

Our ability to collect and harness customer insight – whether it be from an online survey or via social media, direct from the customer, or via the contact centre – is going to become increasingly important if we are to devise strategies in favour of the customer.

So, whilst metrics such as Net Promoter Score or repurchase propensity have served the CX community well – and will continue to do so – there needs to be much greater focus on the future, not the past.

Putting the emphasis on ‘how customer behaviour and demand will shift over the next six months’ will increase our ability to achieve the continuous improvement in performance and productivity needed to reduce churn and protect the bottom line.

In order to respond to the customer in a more agile manner, we need to replace hard-to-digest and often lengthy reports that lead to ‘analysis paralysis’ with actionable insight and alerts that draw upon customer data from multiple touchpoints and multiple channels in real-time.

Harnessing the power of text analytics will ensure we are listening to the customers’ true opinions across all manner of structured and unstructured feedback channels; making greater use of predictive analytics will undoubtedly increase our ability to analyse customer behaviour and previous purchasing patterns to predict future outcomes.

The board must be able to strategise on leading indicators from all stakeholders and to integrate all their ‘voices’ with other business insights – such as CRM, financial, and operational data – via a single dashboard if they are to truly understand the impact of changing customer preferences and priorities across the entire business.

But it’s also important that these same dashboards can be accessed by employees and managers alike so they can take a deep dive into the data to better understand specific customer profiles, for example, and see the direct impact of good CX on customer satisfaction and on their scorecards for themselves.

CX clearly has the potential to be the ultimate differentiator for businesses striving to acquire new customers and secure repeat business, but it’s evident that organisations that can establish a mature CX and employee engagement strategy – capable of adapting to constantly evolving customer and market requirements – will be best placed to offer real value and keep customers on board for the long haul.

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