Voice of the Customer

Building Empathy Through the Voice of the Customer

At the core of every successful business is a strong focus on customer experience. But in order to focus on customers, you have to hear firsthand what they think, feel, do, and say during their interactions with your company. Too often companies rely on their internal hypotheses about what customers want. But these are almost always flawed, because they’re tainted by organizational biases. Learn below how to capture the voice of the customer and use it to build empathy and drive change within your organization. Heart of the Customer helps you employ innovative tools, best practices methodology, and industry-leading analytics.

3 Tips To Manage the Voice of the Lost Customer

As CX practitioners, we work to uncover the Voice of the Customer (VoC) and use it to drive the company to improve. We combine qualitative and quantitative methods to understand what customers need and communicate this to the rest of the company to ensure we remain relevant to customers. 

But if you’ve ever worked within a B2B company, you may have come across another source of feedback that, if you’re not careful, can trump your VoC – the VoLLC. You may not have heard of this term – largely because I just made it up – but it’s certainly something you’ve run across. The Voice of the Last Lost Customer. 

Because B2B relationships are few and precious, each loss hurts. Your sales team can work for months on just one deal, and losing it stings. So much so that they want to prevent it from happening again. So they share any problems the customers mention as a way to push the organization to improve, preventing this from ever happening again. 

Sales is the power center in many B2B companies, and ignoring their feedback is a mistake. But so is basing product and service decisions off a single lost account. So, what is a B2B CX leader to do? Here are three tips to ensure that the VoLLC informs your program, rather than railroads it. 

Talk to sales often 

One reason VoLLC can trump VoC is because it follows a different path. Salespeople are often drivers. If sales feels that you’re not listening to them, they will find another avenue to share their message. Instead, meet with them and incorporate their feedback into your VoC channels. While sales has a narrow and specific view on the market (since they typically focus on those who aren’t your customers, which may be distinct from those you serve), it’s still an important input. Make sure they know you’re listening. 

Go on account calls 

Yes, right now they need to be virtual visits. But the B2B CX leader who doesn’t spend time with sales is the B2B CX Leader is six months away from a job search. As sales is a typical power center, it pays to spend time with them – and it also helps to gain in-depth information on what a segment of the market feels. Even better, sales talks to your customers’ executives, whereas other VoC channels typically focus on users. So it’s a golden opportunity to gain a holistic view of your customers’ needs. 

Use it as a hammer – but only when you your problem involves a nail 

Sometimes, sales’ VoLLC is off the mark. They could be trying to sell to somebody who isn’t your core customer or is non-strategic, but large. Or an individual salesperson may lose a few deals for the same reason and assume this is true of all accounts. It’s natural for one individual who works with a small set of companies to assume a pattern exists where there is none. But often they’re right. When the VoLLC matches up with your VoC, this is a powerful opportunity. Not only do you get to show the power center that you’re listening, you also gain a powerful ally in the pursuit of customer-focused changeSo take advantage of that when it happens, and have sales trumpet this critical need. 

Most CX leaders focus on customer loyalty, which is rational. Our tools are attuned to solve this problem, so it’s where we focus. But we know from our survey of CX leaders who are effectively driving change that they focus on sales as well as onboarding and service. So pay attention to the VoLLC, and use it to drive (soon-to-be) customer-focused change! 

customers consumers producers

What’s in a Name? Your Ability to Please Your Customers

I’ve always been a big reader, but the pandemic has given me even more time to indulge my passion. I recently devoured Conscious Capitalism, by John Mackey and Rajendra Sisodia.

It really struck a chord with me, particularly this paragraph calling on businesses to stop using the term consumer: “Businesses must think of their customers as human beings to be served, not as consumers to be sold to. In fact, the very word consumer objectifies people, suggesting that their only role is to consume.”

Like the saying goes, “A consumer is a statistic. A customer is a person.” Read more

Seizing This Moment, Solving Problems

Despite all the hardship, trauma, and loss endured by the global community the past few months, I can’t help but feel a sense of awe at times. I truly believe this is the greatest period of innovation I have experienced in my lifetime.  Read more

Surveys in the Time of Pandemic

I’ve been posting weekly videos on LinkedIn with advice on what CX professionals can do during this unsettling time.

During Week 2 of the pandemic, I received a survey request that I felt was ill-conceived. The email –entitled “We’d love to hear your thoughts!” – had your standard “based on your current level of happiness with [vendor], how likely are you to recommend [vendor] to a friend or a colleague?”

There was no “we realize this is a difficult time but hope you can give us a few minutes of your time,” or any other acknowledgement that we’re in the midst of a global pandemic. To me, it screamed “sure, people are dying, but we really need to capture our metrics, so please stop what you’re doing and fill out our survey.”

Read more

CX Pros: Help Your Company & Your Customers Deal With COVID-19

The jolt that nations, and communities, all over the world have experienced in the past few weeks due to the relentless spread of COVID-19 is enough to induce whiplash. While the situation is extremely fluid, all signs point to it getting a lot worse in the U.S. before it gets better.

I’m not going to presume to address what this means for the people, and their loved ones, who are directly impacted, and suffering or even dying as a result of contracting this virus. I am devastated for my fellow human beings all over the world and here at home.

But medicine isn’t my area of expertise and I can’t alleviate that suffering, beyond, of course, taking the recommended precautions to prevent further spread of this pandemic.

Customer experience, however, is my area of expertise. And in that arena, I might be able to be of service. And you probably can be, too – more than you may realize. Read more

I Got Great Service From CenturyLink – Eventually! 

The improbable happened. I got great service from CenturyLink.  

Less improbable was the Kansas City Chiefs’ come from behind win in Super Bowl LIV.  It was the third time in as many games they came from behind to win. 

On any given weekend during football season, any NFL team can rise up and beat all odds to get a win. That is what happened on a recent Saturday with CenturyLink. And the moral of the story is horrific online experiences can be saved offline.  Read more

Heart of the Customer

Guest Post: Best Way to Engage Customers, Gather Feedback and Engender Brand Loyalty? Think Customer Advisory Boards

Today we feature an article by Rob Jensen who writes about the benefits of customer advisory boards and how they are a way to improve executive engagement. Read more

Heart of the Customer

When CX Is a Matter of Life or Death

If you’re reading this, you probably already know that customer experience (CX) is important. But even the staunchest CX advocates might not realize that CX done right can save lives.

Earlier this week in this space you met Lee Becker, Chief of Staff of the Veterans Experience Office (VEO) of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). He discussed the challenges of integrating CX principles into governmental structures, and the four CX capabilities – Data, Tools, Technology, and Engagement – on which the VEO’s successful program is based.

Today we focus specifically on how the VEO is maturing its data capabilities to address trust, a fundamental component of customer loyalty and satisfaction.

Read more

VA CX Framework

Creating a Customer-Centric Agency at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

I heard Lee Becker, Chief of Staff of the Veterans Experience Office (VEO) of the VA speak at a recent Medallia conference and was blown away by his remarks. I reached out for an interview because I wanted to share with a broader audience his thoughts on what it’s like to drive change within a massive organization, what’s at stake, and what success at the VA might mean for government services in broader terms.

A Navy Veteran with a background in medical care and case management, Lee is one of the architects behind a turnaround at the VA, and he believes the same solid customer experience (CX) principles they have implemented there can transform the way other federal agencies work, too.

“The fundamental challenge of government is figuring out how you make room for experience when financials and operations are the focus.” Read more

Don’t Ask How to Get Executives to Care About Your CX Program; Ask Instead How You Can Support Your Executives

I go to a lot of Customer Experience (CX) events. Although I learn a lot of new things, I also hear some common concerns throughout all of them. No matter the venue, you can be certain that somebody in the audience will ask a presenter, “How can I get executives to care about customers?”

That’s the wrong question. Believe it or not, your executives actually do care about your customers. These are smart people, and they know that pleasing customers is the secret to success.

They simply don’t care about your so-called “customer experience” program. Read more