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Customer Success and Customer Experience

Voice of Customer Collection Plan

Voice of Customer Collection Plan

An Awe-Inspiring Airport CX

This morning I picked up a friend from the Munich International Airport and couldn’t believe how exceptional the experience was. This shouldn’t come as a shock, though. They don’t hand out the 5-star airport rating and recognition as Top European Airport 9 times in a row to just any old terminal!

Munich International has perfected the customer experience and transformed the miserable chores once associated with travel into a delightful and stress-free event.

arrival and departure lookup board at the airport

At one point in my journey, I walked past the arrival board and, instead of turning back like any normally active person would, simply approached one of the strategically spaced live chat kiosks.

This, fellow frequent flyers, is where I thought to myself “now that’s a CX example I can write about!”

I selected my language with the 3 ft tall, user friendly interface and was greeted by a **real** human assistant.

At first, I thought it was just another Avatar-level CGI chatbot. No way they’d have an actual human dealing with the needy and/or lazy customers like myself!

To my pleasant surprise, I was very wrong. I gave the real woman my friend’s flight number and the she informed me which gate I needed to go to. No language barrier, no wait time, no stress and -best of all- no frustration!

Munich International also provides a great customer experience with completely free Wi-Fi, an indoor surfing wave, a giant slide, a mini golf course, a Hilton hotel, multiple local grocery and pharmacy stores, a modern ambiance, award-recognized quick flight connections, full-fledged restaurants, its own mall, an airport Bräuhaus (brewery)… someone stop me. Seriously, I could write an entire article on this airport’s amenities alone!

Before you close this window and write me off as a just another crazy content marketer, I’ll bring it back and spare you the long list of details.

a man pointing his finger to a chart on a table

Instead, let’s discuss how Munich International has taken the Voice of Customer (VoC) and used it as a force to facilitate the world-class airport I’ve come to know, or obsess over, and how Munich International uses VoC to innovate and implement continuous change.

The airport relies on perceptual, consistent feedback from its flyers and has installed feedback machines throughout every terminal to prompt passengers to leave their input.

Munich International Airport’s personnel is responsible for actually implementing the recommendations, but they also allow the individual airlines to build and restructure terminals to keep in line with the feedback they collect from their own customer surveys.

The Munich Airport is an example of a well researched and proper Voice of Customer program.

They collect the VoC at the right time and continue to update their services to accommodate the customer feedback, which results in an amazing CX.  

The Munich Airport also highlights why it’s so important that you must have the means to implement change when taking the time to collect the Voice of Customer. Otherwise, you’ll only let down your customers.

After all, you don’t get some millennial dedicating an entire article introduction to your airport by not listening to them!  

Voice of Customer: Why It Matters

It’s O.K. if you find yourself questioning what the Voice of Customer really is. Sure, it has “voice” and “customer” in it. Naturally, most people would assume it’s simply a company’s effort at monitoring their customers’ experience with their product or service.

Now, this is definitely one part to it… but there is so much more!

The Voice of Customer should focus on “closing the loop” by going through all the steps of the process presented below and showing the customer that their concerns really do matter.  

customer success management team

To do this, the VoC plan your company structures should break down typical silos within the workplace and require every department to work together towards resolving customer concerns.

By doing this, you’ll enhance your company’s overall customer experience by eliminating issues associated with complexity, user frustration, and misinformation.  

A VoC program is the key to customer success for any company that wishes to achieve delight and create advocates out of their customers.

Do you want your very own champion customer sharing their positive opinions to everyone (hmm, maybe a blog community…) on your behalf?

Listening to what they have to say about your product or service is the first place you should take a look. Taking the appropriate action is the next.

Voice of Customer programs are important because they are the only way your company can take an educated action towards improving customer relations.

It’s then up to you to monitor your company’s performance over time.

As Michael Hinshaw, CEO OF McorpCX, writes, “customer experience ‘lives’ entirely in the minds of your customers.”

“Great experiences mean expectations are exceeded; good experiences mean they’re met; bad experiences mean these expectations are not met.”

Of course, the VoC should be accessed by a thorough, deeply researched, well prepared process. There are a few basics that make up any effective VoC program, and you shouldn’t miss them when constructing your company’s very own!

Four Steps to a Basic VoC Program

We previously discussed the importance of collecting feedback, taking action, and monitoring results when it comes to reaping the biggest benefit from your Voice of Customer program. Now, let’s actually break down those sentences into actionable building blocks.

silhouette of a man running with a briefcase through a glass floor

A proper VoC is the entire collection of 4 basic steps:

1. Choose the Right Method

It’s most important that you make sure you ask the right questions in whichever VoC assessment style you choose, be it in-app surveys or focus groups.

Some methods are very costly and others are not expensive at all. It depends how high-touch or low-touch your customers are, and what specific customer needs your company must meet.    

Different Customer Success Managers will have different data collection methods, but they all want one thing: relevant customer feedback.

To ensure the feedback you receive is relevant, you must choose the right collection method for your customer base.

customer success team working on an Apple Macbook

Here are some of the most widely used tools for VoC feedback collection. As you’ll see, there are technology solutions, in-person methods, and in-app methods throughout the list.

  • Telephone Survey

    • This is a more in-depth approach that allows you to have an actual conversation. You’ll hear individual and unique customer concerns.
  • Email and In-App surveys

    • Customers can request product features, report bugs, and answer specific questions you’ve tailored to hit specific pain points. Make sure you ask the appropriate questions that will elicit real responses- not only positive ones!
  • Live Chat/ Chatbot

    • Companies like Intercom have distributed the SaaS industry by allowing customer success and support teams to answer questions and resolve issues almost instantaneously.
  • User Testing

    • You can try out certain product features and updates to a small sample of your customer base. Companies like Dominoes have even tested out recipes at certain locations to see if vegan pizzas would meet an untapped demographic’s needs. (hint: they sold out.)
  • Online Community Interaction/ Social Listening

    • Customers will leave feedback about their experience online and discuss them on review sites or social platforms. Here, you’ll gain an unsolicited VoC probably fueled by a stronger grain of truth than other methods. That’s why it’s important to implement specific tools that will allow you to monitor mentions, and carry out a proper sentiment analysis. 
  • NPS

    • This is one of the main SaaS metrics customer success managers to gauge the VoC by asking users how likely they would recommend your product to other prospects.
  • In-Person and Online Focus Groups

    • Focus groups can answer subjective questions that allow you to access the VoC the customer can customize.

2. Interpret the Insight

After capturing the key customer feedback from whichever VoC method you decided, you should then analyze the feedback.

It’s important to pass along this information throughout your company and to every appropriate stakeholder.

Intronis VP of Partner Success, Jasmine Lombardi, says that companies need to define who will own data analysis and reporting, as well as determine how feedback will be stack ranked in terms of priority.

She explains further,

“Employees become significantly more valuable and effective when they can interpret and capitalize on rich customer insight.”

Most importantly, you have to remember that simply relying on data and lagging indicators will not provide a full and reliable picture of your customer health and expectations. Therefore, it is important to map the entire customer journey and collect feedback at different stages using multiple tools.

Especially when it comes to SaaS, specific indicators such as engagement need to be defined on the basis of the actual product functionality.

3. Take Appropriate Actions

This is probably the most important step for your entire VoC program. If you can’t take any action, then having the proper collection method doesn’t even matter!

Figuring out how to respond to customer feedback with the appropriate action ultimately improves the overall customer experience, because it shows customers you’re actually listening to them.

In terms of negative feedback, your goal should be to act on it immediately and ensure your customers don’t build up resentment towards your company. This can mean having a proper CRM system in place or simply encouraging employees to take appropriate measures with a pre-approved protocol.

When responding to positive feedback, the goal should also be to act on it immediately. Everyone loves an extra pat on the back! At the minimum, it’ll show your customers that you’re listening and can actually pay attention.

4. Audit Results

Now that you’ve taken the appropriate actions, let’s see how they worked!

You can gauge your outreach success by reviewing analytics on feedback time, click rate, and feedback quality.

Did you choose the right method? Did you word your questions properly?

If your feedback metrics are off, maybe you should review step 2. If the feedback doesn’t actually address concerns, you should review step 1.

customer care executive working on analytics using paper and a cell phone

Auditing the results of your company’s VoC program and how the actions that followed affected the customer is a powerful step for any CS professional.

Reviewing your results as a Customer Success Manager is the step that shows you how you’ve helped customers achieve their goals.

Maybe you helped a customer extract a use from your product they didn’t know existed, which was only achieved because you asked the right questions and acted on the feedback.

Voice of Customer Recap

Before you go and leave me to daydream about airports all by myself, let’s quickly review why the VoC is so important for your company.

Simply put, VoC is the only way to enact data-driven, enforceable, company-wide change to meet customers’ demands.

A properly planned VoC program will bring the company together to produce results, which will enhance the overall customer experience.

If you’re looking to start planning your company’s very own VoC program, consider taking these four essential steps:

  • Choose The Right Collection Method
  • Interpret The Insight
  • Take Appropriate Actions
  • Audit Results

Planning the perfect VoC program is only one strategy for customer success and customer experience. Do you want to learn more about other customer success solutions and strategies? Download our Customer Success Playbook to read the top tactics 7 Customer Success experts use to promote proactive measures within their own companies.

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About the author:
The Userlane team brings you digital adoption insights, product updates, and plenty of onboarding and engagement advice for user-centric businesses.