Remember that shiver down your spine the first time you got game-changing Voice of Customer (VOC) feedback? Like the end of The Usual Suspects, where you realize (spoiler alert) the whole movie you just watched was a lie? You analyze the data, validate it against other sources, and your blurry customer picture sharpens into clear focus.
If you’re like me, you couldn’t wait to spring into action and make improvements.
And then you hit roadblocks.
No one was interested. Teams were committed to other projects. And some half-asleep VP dismissed the insight as “a one-off anecdote, not a trend” while he scrolled through cat pictures on Twitter.
Sadly, this is a common story. Especially in B2B SaaS companies who still think product features and functionality drive growth. (Hint: they don’t.)
How do you overcome these challenges? Before you can act on VOC feedback, you need A.C.T. – Awareness, Commitment, and Trust.
The first step in creating change is awareness. In the ADKAR change management framework, the first A stands for “awareness of the need for change.”
People won’t change if they’re not aware they need to. If you want to improve the customer experience based on VOC feedback, then you need to share it with stakeholders. Help them understand the data and draw the same conclusion you did.
Use these tactics to create awareness:
- Invite them to the party. One of the easiest ways to make other teams aware of the VOC feedback is to invite them to participate in the collection or analysis of the data. Allow them to listen in on customer interviews, either live or recorded. Share verbatim survey comments and ask for their help identifying key themes. Involving your stakeholders in the process also increases their trust in the results!
- Go on a roadshow. Package your VOC feedback in a presentation format and share it with other teams and departments. Allow them time to understand the data, ask questions about it, and share their own interpretations. Tell customer stories and show the numerical data to back them up. Take this show on the road and go team to team and department to department until everyone is aware of the new customer insights. Repeat the message, repeat the message, repeat the message!
Modern companies are complex and constantly in transition. Multiple corporate initiatives compete for limited resources: money, people, and time.
You need commitment from cross-functional teams to access to those resources. Otherwise, Mr. Sleepy VP will push your CX initiative to the side of his desk when crunch time comes or he discovers that Instagram also has cat pictures.
Commitment secures the future prioritization of work amidst competing initiatives. Try these tactics:
- Show them the money. All business goals are ultimately financial. Get stakeholders’ attention by showing how the CX initiative will attract new customers, retain existing customers, or reduce the cost to serve customers. The company’s current initiatives already support one or more of these goals.
- Support the cause. Rather than starting a new initiative, show how the VOC feedback can be used to support an existing initiative. For example, if there is already an initiative to improve customer service, show how your VOC feedback can identify the specific service issues leading to customer churn.
For me, the most frustrating of these obstacles is a stakeholder’s mistrust of the VOC insights. It’s easy to take it personally when you’ve worked hard to amplify the customer’s voice and someone disagrees.
The insight likely challenges their existing beliefs. Humans come hard-wired with confirmation bias. When we encounter new information, our brains interpret it in a way that confirms the beliefs we already have.
“What man sees depends both upon what he looks at and also upon what his previous visual-conception experience has taught him to see.”Thomas S. Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions
If we believe that customers dislike chat-bots, then every example of a bad chat-bot experience confirms it. But if we believe that customers love chat-bots, we are likely to blame a bad interaction on the customer’s age, intellect, or unhealthy fascination with cat memes on social media – anything but the bot itself.
To overcome confirmation bias, be transparent about the VOC process and the feedback received. Allow stakeholders time to process new information and ask questions. Involving them in the collection and analysis of VOC is a great way to improve not only awareness but trust as well.
Two other effective tactics are:
- Admit when you’re wrong. Just as your stakeholders have confirmation bias, so do you. One powerful trust-building technique is openly talking about your own learnings. “I expected to hear A, but was surprised to hear that customers prefer B instead.” This communicates that you are sharing information for joint discovery and learning, rather than pushing an agenda.
- Speak their language. Some stakeholders are influenced by stories and anecdotes. Others want to see the numbers and statistics. Build trust with each stakeholder by sharing the insights in the language they prefer – stories (qualitative) or statistics (quantitative). By speaking their language, rather than your own, you communicate in a way that resonates with the audience.
Leading organizational change from VOC insights is one of the most difficult challenges for a CX leader. It’s also one of the most critical, because CX can’t show business value without creating change. These techniques and tactics will help you build awareness, commitment, and trust to turn your VOC insights into action.