If you were to ask a room full of CEOs “How many of you use a voice of customer survey to learn what your customers are saying about you”?
In this article, I’m going to tell you what they say. And the answer may shock you.
Most of us do not use a proven methodology that is statistically valid to understand the true voice of the customer.
We tend to use and trust anecdotal information or comments found on social media. We say what we want others to think we think on social networks. Not what we actually think.
Sadly, I’m lucky if I get 10% to put their hand up.
So the truth is, we don’t know what our customers are saying about us to others. And we do not understand the impact of not knowing this on revenue.
In you want a good book that explains the origins of voice of customer surveys, check out The Loyalty Effect: The Hidden Force Behind Growth, Profits, and Lasting Value.
In it, author Frederick Reichheld demonstrates the power of loyalty-based management as a highly profitable alternative to the economics of perpetual churn.
What is the Voice of the Customer Survey?
The Voice of the Customer Survey is feedback your customer shares with others about their experience of doing business with you.
- Their expectations of your products and services
- The main reasons why they will return
- The main reasons why they will not return
- What your most important improvements are
- Which customers are actively recommending you to others and why
- Which customers are not recommending you and why not
Fundamently, your customers will share whether you hit the mark, exceeded the mark or were no-where near the mark.
How do you capture the Voice of the Customer?
To know and understand the Voice of the Customer, we need to survey our customers. There are online tools available like Survey Monkey, or like us at The Loyalty Zone you can speak to your customers.
We prefer telephone interviews, as you can ask follow-up questions to find out exactly what your customers mean by their responses.
Traditional satisfaction surveys can be long and customers get to say little, except to provide a score.
By speaking with customers the Voice of the Customer Survey, captures more relative information.
We know it’s the quality of the conversations that we have with customers that make the real difference because what customer think is what drive reputation.
For example, we find customers will use words like, friendly, helpful, fast or cost-effective. Or unhelpful, slow or expensive. We call these words – drivers.
The art of conversing to probe into these drivers, identifies the key behaviours.
The behaviours determine your Best Practice Drivers; things you’re doing well. And your Improvement Drivers; things you need to work on.
Unprompted responses are the most valid. We never give multiple choice response options or put ideas in the heads of the customers we survey. We simply let them talk.
If, you want to make a difference to your customers’ experience. You need to understand and focus on the areas that have the biggest impact.
We are advocates of the Net Promoter Score. What we love most about the Net Promoter Score, is that it is a proven methodology that is statistically valid.
We love it so much, we completed the Satmetrix Net Promoter Score certification.
The rating the customer gives you tells us everything, for example – do you know if your customers are Promoters, Passives or Detractors?
The key questions we ask follow the Net Promoter Score approach.
“How likely it is that you would recommend (Business Name) to a friend or colleague? With 10 being you definitely would and 0 being you definitely would not, what number would you choose?”
For scores of (9 or 10) “What is the main reason for the score you gave us?” = Best Practice Drivers
For lower scores (8 or less) “What is the most important improvement that would make you rate us closer to 10?” = Loyalty Improvement Drivers
Other Voice of the Customer Examples
Follow-up loyalty questions give you more insights on what drives your customer loyalty. How likely is it that you will definitely repurchase from us the next time you need these types of products and services? 10 being definitely or 10 being definitely not?
- How likely is it that you will definitely repurchase from us the next time you need these types of products and services? 10 being definitely or 10 being definitely not?
Use multiple choice with free-form ‘other’ option. Avoid pick lists that tend to control your customers thinking.
- What might prevent you from continuing to do business with us over time?
- How likely are you to switch to another brand, company, product, or service?
Use 0 to 10 where possible as it is the most understood scoring scale with 10 being excellent and 0 very poor.
- Have you recommended us to a friend or colleague? If Yes how many? If Yes how many?
Why is Voice of the Customer important?
Knowing and understanding what the customer truly wants, not what you perceive they want, will change the way you operate. Including your delivery of products and services.
My research shows a huge difference in revenue depending on the experience the customer has and how they rate you.
Check out customer retention management: A reflection of theory and practice. Reichheld provides, comprehensive details of Bain and Company’s prescriptions of managing customer retention, drawn from its consultants.
And, learning from customer defections a Harvard business review. Good long-standing customers are worth so much. In some industries, reducing customer defections by as little as five points from, say, 15% to 10% per year, can double profits.
The Customer Experience and the Voice of the Customer, Drives Revenue
The graphs below show the impact of experience on repeat business and word of mouth referral.
To explain the graph below, if they rated you 10/10, a massive 97% said they will definitely repurchase.
Whereas, if they rated you 8 out of 10, only 48% said they definitely would. Huge difference.
If we look at the other key impact of knowing the Voice of the Customer. The graph below, shows us what happens to the customers ‘word of mouth’. Based on what we have seen, it is significant.
53% of the customers who rated their experience as 10/10 have actively recommended that company to their friends and colleagues. Where as only 27% of the customers who rated 8 out of 10 have actually recommended.
Sadly, 20% of customers who rated 6 or below have negatively recommended the company hence why they are called detractors.
The good news is, the script we use tells us exactly why Promoters love you; Best Practice Drivers. And what your Passives and Detractors suggest are the most important improvements to rate you a 9 or 10, in the future; Improvement Drivers.
By driving a better customer experience, you will drive more revenue.
I find a lot of businesses use a different form of research, which I call Buttock Research. They pull it out of the backsides and guess, we never guess. We know exactly what we need to do.