You can have phenomenal survey response rates, a seamless question flow, words crafted to prompt feedback from even the most reluctant customer and more insight than you can shake a stick at; but if your contact centre colleagues are not fully engaged in your Voice of the Customer process then you'll struggle to see a return on investment.
"It's the customer stupid"
We have entered the Age of Experience. Customers' relationships with brands are no longer shaped by the way brands talk at people. They are moulded by the interactions consumers (and their social circles) have with the brands and the experiences that the brands deliver. This means the human face of the company carries infinitely more influence than service technology. In ten years of managing feedback surveys I have never once seen a piece of feedback that says "I had a lovely chat with your IVR messaging service" or "Your chatbot was really helpful". But I have seen customers rave about the service they received from James or Janet, Richard or Rebecca. Technology can contribute to a good customer experience but it will always be the contact centre colleagues who make the difference between the mundane and the memorable. As such they are the key to realising benefit from your feedback programme.
3 reasons why you absolutely need employee engagement in Voice of the Customer
Your front-line staff are those that will cause the biggest shift in customer experience so it makes sense for them to be engaged in any process that seeks to improve that experience. Voice of the Customer programmes are at the vanguard of customer service improvement (you don't know what needs fixing but your customers do). Fully engaging colleagues in the process will bring three clear benefits:
- It's easier to implement improvements prompted by feedback - when we first implement a VoC programme we find there can be pockets of mistrust and even resentment. Some front-line colleagues fear that customer feedback will be used as a stick. If such feelings are not tackled head on they carry over to the actions prompted by feedback. Colleagues who have not bought in to the value of feedback will not buy into the solutions it suggests.
- The actions you take will be more effective - if colleagues trust the source of the insight that drives improvement they are more likely to trust the solution and be willing to make it work. As importantly, improvements are suggested by your customers so the customer-facing element of your operation is best placed to implement, evaluate and adapt them.
- The improvements you deliver will stick - unlike one-off programmes VoC offers a continuous cycle of review with each element of change (whether at agent, team or company level) being measured by real-time customer feedback. It is the continuity of this process that delivers lasting change and stimulates genuine cultural transformation.
5 ways to ensure staff are fully engaged in your Voice of the Customer programme
- Make sure they understand the why as well as the what - complete transparency is vital. Be completely open about the objectives behind your programme. But express these objectives in terms of a company-wide goal or purpose. Explaining that you want to build a 'world-class' customer experience will get more buy-in than saying you want to make the contact centre better at what they do. Having described the end-goal make sure that people understand how the process will work - i.e. how the surveys are sent, how the data is managed, how the feedback is used.
- Accentuate the positive - when feedback starts coming through focus on the things your colleagues are doing well. By highlighting the positive feedback it becomes easier to discuss the comments that identify where improvements can be made. If employees trust the feedback when its positive they'll also trust it when it's less complimentary.
- Involve them in finding the answers - Nobody likes to be told what to do. By giving colleagues direct access to the feedback about themselves, through an online console, they can be involved in the process of putting things right. Self-improvement is always more likely to stick.
- Recruit a VoC champion in each team - Firmly embed the programme by appointing a VoC champion for each team. This does not need to be the team leader but they should be an enthusiast for the programme; one who can support their colleagues in making the process work.
- Involve the whole company - not just front-line staff - communication is key and must be at a company-wide level. Live feeds of positive customer feedback comments into the contact centre; posters of similar comments distributed throughout the building; Facebook for Business sites where agents can post positive feedback and be recognised by their peers and bosses; videos of why VoC works; award entries - all will promote a communal sense of engagement and purpose.
The equation is simple. Your brand depends on customers who remain loyal because you give them a great experience; the great experience is delivered by engaged employees. In the words of Sir Richard Branson:
"The way you treat your employees is the way they will treat your customers."
If you wanted to hear more about how we've helped our clients ensure their employees are engaged in the VoC process please do get in touch.