The longer I work in the Voice of the Customer (VoC) arena, the more I have come to believe in the importance of communication.
It’s not just about communicating with our customers – telling them that we have acted on the information they have provided – it’s about communicating with our teams as well.
It’s especially true in the world of digital Customer Experience, and I and my fellow judges at the 2018 UK Digital Experience Awards certainly found it to be the case in the three entries we evaluated in the Best Online User Experience – B2B category.
All nominees offered strong and successful examples of a new app and/or portal they had developed. Without fail, they demonstrated great business and customer value – driving high levels of take-up and therefore revenue. We learned about the great user experience (UX) and technical detail that had gone into each of the solutions, but the thing that really struck me was their use of good old fashioned communication.
The winning entrant, BMJ Best Practice, explained how it was able to create a great product by recognising where improvements needed to be made in order to reduce customer disappointment and disaffection. To get the word out there that things were changing, they proactively recruited detractors – who were typically pretty vocal on social media – into the development process. They were invited to provide input to product enhancements but, more importantly, they were also encouraged to tell everyone in their network about the improvements and how good the product now was as a result.
Large scale events – 40 workshops, over 300 interviews, across 15 countries, talking to over 1000 healthcare professionals – were also held to spread the word. The ultimate goal was obviously to understand customer requirements and to develop the product to meet expectations.
It succeeded in this aim but equally as important was the ‘word of mouth’ impact that this organisation was willing to encourage, embrace, and listen to – then do something with the information they received. The result was that the number of users has gone up dramatically.
Meanwhile, another entrant offered a different perspective. In this case, some customers had expressed their need for a new portal but it was regarded only as a means of delivering information, not the main product offering. Larger customers saw no real need for this solution at all, and as a result, convincing decision makers and the business overall that they should develop the portal became the key priority and a massive challenge. The team had to make some big promises to the business and then deliver on them:
- We will improve the experience
- We will reduce the number of disputes (and therefore reduce costs)
- We will increase usage (again, reduce costs)
The company decided to engage decision makers across the business and keep people informed by using a variety of approaches. They used go-to sites such as Kanban boards so that everyone could check the status of the project. They also instigated interactive sessions such as daily stand-ups and weekly demos to update teams on progress.
To ensure delivery-to-time, they held interactive sessions with the wider group to agree what was needed and what could be shelved.
Although there was less involvement with the customer, it is a great example of how a business was able to use communication to bring everyone together on the journey. It was able to launch a portal/solution that has proved extremely popular with clients, as well as the business. The value of customer-focused UX design is now recognised and the next iteration will more fully involve communicating with the customer.
The third entry we assessed added a clever feedback mechanism into the user journey. Once customers were using the training portal provided, they were encouraged to provide feedback on their experience. This has driven a high volume of both positive and negative feedback. The positive has reinforced the success of the product (increasing take-up and retention levels) and the negative has been used to drive a process of continuous improvement.
All three nominees proved there is real value in making the most of the opportunity to communicate with customers and the wider team. It’s a common feature of all feedback programmes: use the positive feedback in all marketing communications to customers and share it with the team, and turn the negative around in a “you said – we did” approach to communications – proving to customers that action is being taken on their valued feedback.
So, the next time you are planning a new digital project, don’t forget to take the team and customer with you on the journey. Communicate with them as frequently and clearly as you can…and then do it some more!
Don’t forget that in the digital world, continual improvement and feedback is not an add-on – It’s becoming more important than ever.