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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

CX Day Topic: How to Become a Trusted Advisor

I’ve yet to meet anyone who can believe it’s already October. Nonetheless, its arrival also means it’s time for CX Day, the annual celebration of customer experience practitioners and their successes!

Visit the CXPA’s website for a complete list of events. Also check out LitmusWorld’s week of related offerings, including their #CXDay2020 Voice of Experts series, where I am honored to be featured. (I was also recently named one of their Top CX Influencers for 2020.)

For my part, I’m going to mark the day by focusing this post on the power and potential of CX for B2B enterprises. Read more

Culture Is the Cart, Change Is the Horse

There’s no doubt about it – culture change is sexy. So sexy, that it’s where most customer experience programs focus. But starting with culture is putting the cart before the horse. And we all know you’re not going to get anywhere that way.

In this final post in my CX-focused series on applying John Kotter’s 8 Steps to Accelerate Change in Your Organization, we cover the eighth step: Institute Change.

The problem is that most employees believe they’re doing the right thing for customers – it’s those people in [insert name of some other department] who are messing up. So if you start with culture change – putting together training, creating a customer room, waiting for improved outcomes – you’re loading your cart before you have the means to propel it forward.

Read more

sustain acceleration

Don’t Just Drive CX Success, Sustain It

We’re in the homestretch of my series on how to apply John Kotter’s change management work to customer experience! The penultimate seventh step, Sustain Acceleration, is an important reminder that you can’t rest on your laurels.

As Kotter writes in 8 Steps to Accelerate Change in Your Organization: “So you’ve had a few wins. It can be easy to lift your foot off the gas pedal after experiencing some success. Instead, this is the time to press harder and use those wins as momentum to further fuel the change.” Read more

Propel CX Momentum With Quick Wins

I’ve been writing about how to apply John Kotter’s change management work to CX. This week, I’ll tackle Step Six: Generate Short-Term Wins.

The good news is that CX programs frequently excel at this. Many organizations have focused internally so much that they can easily find areas where they can develop quick wins.

Whether they have the infrastructure in place to execute them? Well, that’s another story.

The ripest opportunities for quick wins often come from digital efforts. Shortening a process here, improving communication there – these changes can make a real difference. Even when you need to take more comprehensive action, break it down so that you make an impact in the short term. This often paves the way for the success of your longer-term initiatives. Read more

Enable CX Action by Removing Barriers

On our continuing journey exploring John Kotter’s 8 Steps to Accelerate Change and how you can apply them to the CX world, we have reached the fifth step: Enable Action by Removing Barriers. (Catch up on earlier posts in the series here!)

According to our forthcoming work on understanding how companies improve their customers’ journeys, one of the top obstacles to improvement is organizational complexity. Read more

Enlist a Volunteer CX Army

One thing about being in CX – you’re unlikely to have a huge staff. Typically, that’s deliberate. CX doesn’t – and can’t! – own the entire experience. That’s what all those other departments do. Your role is to influence them, and align the entire organization on CX objectives.

We’re not yet ready to share the full results of the survey of journey maturity we recently conducted in partnership with Usermind and Megan Burns, but I will tease one of the results. (CXPA members can join our webinar at the end of September to find out more about what we learned.) Read more

Create a Compelling CX Vision

Rallying your teams to move to a more customer-focused approach requires letting them know what needs to be done. And nothing is more effective at accomplishing that than having a compelling CX vision for what the future looks like.

A clear vision is the accelerator for customer experience (CX) change. Sure, you can improve the experience without a vision – but it will be much more difficult.

A compelling vision is Kotter’s third step in change management. (I’ve explored the first two steps here and here.) As the firm explains in 8 Steps to Accelerate Change in Your Organization, “You can’t appeal to people with data and facts alone. You must also account for how people feel. If you can provide greater meaning and purpose to their efforts, amazing things are possible.” Read more

Not Making CX Progress? Start Saying No

Too many customer experience (CX) programs get stuck. 

Stuck with no influence. No change. No leadership buy-in. 

We see it all the time. As a CX leader, you’re spread so thin, trying to juggle dozens of balls at once. You’re building a new measurement program while sharing your existing scores with anybody who will listen. You’re creating new training programs. You’re in meetings to support the new portal, the new customer campaign, the Customer Advisory Board, and the new loyalty program. 

You’re incredibly busy. You burn through your unused vacation time just trying to keep up. But when you get to the end of the year, the most important thing – customer loyalty – remains unchanged.  

A year filled with effort, but no actual change. 

That’s a problem.  Read more