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Before You Can Act on VOC, You Need A-C-T

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Remember that feeling the first time you got really good Voice of Customer (VOC) feedback? Something that fundamentally changed the way you understood your customers? It was like missing pieces fell into place and you suddenly had a new perspective that explained so many nuances of customer behavior.

If you’re like me, you couldn’t wait to spring into action and improve the customer experience with your newfound insights.

And then you hit roadblocks.

No one else in the organization shared your newfound perspective. Teams were already committed to other projects and didn’t have resources for a new one.

Or, worst of all, they simply didn’t believe the new insight was accurate because it contradicted traditional paradigms.

Sadly, this is a common story, and it’s especially prevalent in B2B SaaS companies who have traditionally relied on product features and functionality to drive growth, not CX.

How do you overcome these challenges? Before you can act on VOC feedback, you need A-C-T: Awareness, Commitment, and Trust.

Awareness

Awareness is the first step in change. In the ADKAR change management framework, the first A stands for “awareness of the need for change.”

No person or organization will change without first being aware of the need to change. If you want to improve the customer experience based on VOC feedback, stakeholders must first be aware of the feedback and support the conclusion that they need to change.

These practices improve awareness with stakeholders:

  • 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 customer feedback. 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!

Commitment

Modern companies are complex and constantly in transition. Multiple corporate initiatives compete for limited resources: money, people, and time.

To act on VOC feedback, you need commitment from cross-functional teams to prioritize access to those limited resources. Otherwise your initiative will be pushed to the side of the desk when crunch time comes. Commitment is about securing the future prioritization of the work amidst competing initiatives.

To secure commitment from other leaders, try these tactics:

  • Show them the money. All business goals are ultimately financial. You will get stakeholders’ attention if you can show 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.

Trust

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.

Most likely, the stakeholder is reacting to the way the insight challenges the existing paradigm. Humans come hard-wired with something called confirmation bias. Simply put, 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 experience with a chat-bot confirms that bots are a bad idea. However, if we believe that customers love chat-bots, we are predisposed to blame a bad chat-bot interaction on the specific customers’s age, intellect, or expectations – 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. You should have both, but build trust with each stakeholder individually 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 practitioner. 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.

Need help taking action on your VOC feedback? Send me a message and let’s chat!

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