If there is one message that came across loud and clear from the 2017 Customer Experience Awards, it’s this: act on customer feedback if you want to drive culture change and impact the bottom line.

Yes, we always want to know more: what are our customers thinking? What do they want more of? What part of a transaction did they enjoy? Were they disappointed in our service? But we really must resist the temptation to use technology to push out new surveys, using all manner of channels, in order to collect more and more data.

The most mature CX programmes recognise that the answers to many questions are often right in front of you, lying in the existing data and insight you currently have in contact centre records, emails, complaints processes, and CRM databases.

More importantly, this year’s winners also demonstrated that it’s the ability to translate data into actionable insight that will provide us with a deeper understanding of the CX throughout the entire buyer journey – without wasting customers’ time and goodwill asking unnecessary questions!

The most effective surveys only ask for additional insight or to close the loop and the best CX programmes let the customer know what action was taken based on the feedback they provided.

Virgin Money is a great example of an organisation committed to not only listening to its customers but to changing its business to deliver world-class CX. It quite rightly won the ‘Best Financial Services – Banking and Investment’ Award this year for its strategic, company-wide Voice of the Customer (VoC) programme.

It stands out as an example of VoC best practice because VoC is embedded into every aspect of the business. It listens to new, existing and former customers in order to understand what it is getting right and also to find out where it can make improvements.

The feedback provided by customers has enabled Virgin Money to put in place hundreds of change activities across the company every year. The combination of actionable insight and a commitment to continuous improvement is not only enhancing the relationships that customers have with the brand, improving service delivery and developing Virgin Money’s loyalty proposition. It is also helping to increasing revenues.

It’s this ability to make a real difference to customers whilst making timely and tangible improvements to the business that enables a strategic VoC programme to deliver real value.

Using feedback to identify at-risk accounts or broken processes enables companies to address issues head on. It enables businesses to retain customers that might otherwise have been lost if they had not acted on the crucial information that was placed in its hands and thereby protect revenue streams.

Unfortunately, it is still the case that companies don’t always act on customer problems or complaints until it’s too late. Clearly, putting in place an action management process that enables you to analyse customer feedback as soon as it’s received and set alerts to immediately respond to issues and problems, provides the opportunity to proactively close the loop and positively influence customer retention.

All too often, companies focus too much attention on chasing metrics – whichever one they use – and trying to figure out how to move the number rather than finding out what the number is trying to tell them.

So it’s essential that as CX professionals we translate the numbers that have been collected into real words so that the business can dive deeper into the insight and ensure that actions are the output.

So what’s the biggest lesson from the 2017 UK Customer Experience Awards?

Designing a CX programme is never ‘one size fits all’ – what makes sense for one organisation might not make sense for the next. What is important for all CX programmes is making sure you’re truly listening to the voice of the customer – listening to it and then acting upon it.

Don’t just send out another survey because you have the technology to do so; award-winning CX programmes squeeze every bit of insight out of the feedback from customers and then do something about it!

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