voicesThis month we are turning our focus to research & listening to customers’ voices.

But, of course, the customer is not necessarily the only voice to which you should be listening as an insight leader.

So, to set a context for the rest of our research content this month, I’m delighted to welcome Richard Kimber as a new guest blogger.

Richard is a Customer Experience Improvement Specialist at Custerian. In his first post for us, he shares on the importance of you listening to 3 voices.

Over to Richard to explain…

Many years ago, I used to work in an organisation, where the MD’s mantra (one of them anyway) was “what gets measured gets done” and to a degree he’s right.

However, businesses, especially large organisations, are great at measuring lots of things. Lots of things that in part they’ve always measured and forgot why they started in the first place. Or have lots of manual reporting because systems and processes don’t support what’s needed, if in fact it’s needed at all.

With all the talk around big data, and the amount of actual data that’s available and can be reported on, cutting through the data noise is difficult. However, there is a need and a desire to focus on the critical few measures that really make a difference both within the organisation and to the customer.

There’s also a difference between what’s important for the organisation to measure and understand about internal performance versus external performance with customers and other stakeholders , such as regulators.

We see clients that have a lot of measures in place that generate a lot of data, but not necessarily the right measures in the right place on the right things, that would otherwise give them intelligence into both their own process performance, and their customer experiences.

As an example, I spoke to an Insurance company last year, who only found out that they’d not sent out 10,000 renewal letters when the customer complaint flood gate opened! A reactive situation with little or no control, which sucks resource and creates additional cost, not to mention customer dissatisfaction and negative emotion.

So what’s the answer?

Well, one approach is what we talk about at Custerian. We talk about measuring the three voices in an organisation. These 3 voices are;

  • Voice of Customer (VoC)
  • Voice of Process (VoP)
  • Voice of Employee (VoE)

Voice of Customer

This is exactly as it sounds! It’s the voice of the customer measured (or listened to) either formally and structured through customer research and measurement, or informal and unstructured through anecdotes, employee feedback, social media comments and shares (or even thank you notes!).

Voice of Process

These are what most people refer to as KPIs (key performance indicators). However, they need to be measuring key parts of processes that deliver or determine an important or critical part of the customer experience. A key question to ask here is “if a process point fails will it cause adverse impact to customers, create complaints and/or customer dissatisfaction, or detract from the total experience? If the answer is yes, then it needs to be measured. I’d suggest that insurance renewal letters fall in this category. An easy one with hindsight but a key part of the insurance renewal process where failure causes adverse impact.

Voice of employee

Simply, where a process hands off between team or individuals, the hand off should be measured to ensure;

  • The handing-off team complete their part efficiently and effectively and on time
  • The receiving team get everything they need to be able to complete their part efficiently and effectively to either finish the process or hand over again as required
  • Rinse and repeat

If you then have a single view i.e. a dashboard with all 3 voices on it, then you can see all three critical measures in one place, at a glance without having to dig around for the information on a regular basis.

Further refinement to this is setting tolerance thresholds around the three voices. So that if VoP or VoE drops out of threshold, you can with a degree of certainty, predict that there will be an impact on VoC.

The real skill, is to be able to quickly spot the drops in VoP and VoE and correct them before VoC is actually impacted (ideally). Now we’re starting to delve into the world of real time analytics and reporting which is for another post but is already (and has been for a while) available.

It’s part of moving from reactive (slow) to predictive (agile) and creating intentional experiences for customers (and organisations), rather than the reactive fix and fire fight that we continually see.

Looking back at the Insurance company example from earlier, there clearly was no VoP measure on renewal letters… If the measure had been in place, they would have spotted the failure and been able to correct and inform probably before customers had even realised. This is where big data can be a distraction when there’s more effective things that can be done first to protect and improve the customer experience.

What would your organisation’s 3 voices be saying?