“A well designed and well executed mature VoC programme does not simply appear out of the ether. It does not come fully-formed but instead requires careful nurturing throughout its lifetime. Different programmes develop at different speeds and have different trajectories but all should take an evolutionary path.” Lisa Garthside, Director – Customer Experience Management, Confirmit, one of the judges at this year’s UK Financial Services Experience Awards.

As chair of the ‘Insight and Feedback- putting the customer first’ category at this year’s UK Financial Services Experience Awards, I was pleased to see that the financial community has not only made a real commitment to putting the customer first but also to navigating the path to VoC maturity.

Encouragingly the entries in this category had or were working towards what we at Confirmit talk about as the five key facets of VoC maturity: vision, design, engagement, action and value.

Entrants were able to demonstrate a clear commitment to effective vision and design but, perhaps more importantly in the financial sector, they were able to prove their determination to drive employee engagement and hence, culture change.

There was a real sense that financial services companies are embracing VoC and moving away from a focus on numbers to a focus on emotional intelligence in order to build trust. This is clearly a much needed shift for an industry that is working hard to increase customer confidence but I am pleased to say that many of this year’s entrants were not only talking about culture change but making it a reality.

Although there were discussions about the difficulty of getting organisations that have traditionally been ‘number crunchers’ to take a more qualitative view of the customer, there was evidence that organisations are working hard to focus and act upon specific customer needs – particularly vulnerable customers that have complex issues relating to Power of Attorney or learning difficulties.

Financial services companies are endeavouring to adopt more consistent methods of dealing with the customer as individuals with real problems and tangible concerns, not just a source of profit. They are exploring different ways of listening and using data and striving to share that information across the business, not just within the research team.

Those companies that were making the most concerted effort to communicate internally and externally – closing the loop on the feedback gathered from their customers – also proved to be the ones that were seeing the most results in terms of the impact of increased engagement on the business, either in terms of increased customer satisfaction and NPS scores or in the degree to which employees feel empowered to take action.

And the strongest nominees were clearly those that demonstrated a determination to create a sustainable VoC programme by keeping the Board ‘on board’. Proving the value of taking a customer-focused approach – either by reducing churn, improving renewal rates or increasing revenue – is the most effective way to ensure that a VoC programme is given the long-term financial support it needs to thrive.

Improved performance, profitability and return on investment will continue to be key motivators for the board but the finalists of this year’s Financial Services Experience Awards were also able to show that the ability to increase consumer confidence in the financial sector is the starting point from which all other successes will flourish.

Take a closer look at the five facets of Confirmit’s VoC maturity model and plot your own course.

  • Vision: A clear strategy that links the VoC programme to key business priorities underpins the best strategies. A mature vision not only provides clarity on the end-game, but defines the milestones of the journey, breaking it down into achievable pieces, ensuring each milestone is meaningful to everyone in the organisation.
  • Design: A robust design is a given for any programme, ensuring it measures the right “thing” and is aligned to the right outcomes for an organisation. But a mature programme will be wary of complacency after the initial set up and will strive to be relevant and engaging to both audiences in the long term.
  • Engagement: Buy-in from the leadership team is essential, as is ensuring that employees understand and value their role in the customer experience – mature programmes not only use customer journey mapping but review and amend them and employ a clear communication strategy to share results and successes, especially in relation to ROI.
  • Action: Early results are great but big wins in the long term are not impossible – maturity here isn’t about the scale of change, it’s about impact and this means working towards strategic process re-engineering opportunities further down the line.
  • Value: At the outset, the programme may have been designed to deliver value by reducing the churn rate, for example – once achieved, a mature programme will identify new ways to deliver value, especially on operational and financial fronts. A really mature programme will also deliver demonstrable cultural value.

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