Lacking a tangible, concrete product, it’s fair to say that service industries sell customer satisfaction. Without knowing customers’ expectations, preferences and aversions—commonly known in marketing as “Voice of the Customer” (VOC)—there’s no practical way to assess your customer relationships or continuously improve your processes.
Inconsistent application of VoC trips up even the best-intentioned companies. It erodes feedback value, often makes data management unwieldy and could put client retention at risk. For companies of any size, automating the marketing process minimizes these potentially negative outcomes and provides ways to delight customers without fail.
Weidert Group recently retooled its VoC program to include automated marketing processes that better capture our current and prospective clients’ needs regarding their relationship with and decision to engage with us.
Here’s what we learned...
Create simple surveys
With a captive audience, you may be tempted to ask a lot of questions; however, you risk lower participation due to time constraints and also conveying a lack of respect for your customers’ time.
- Boil it down to two or three qualitative questions, meaning open-ended inquires about value enhancers and detractors that customers answer in paragraph form.
- Absolutely, positively include the quintessential quantitative question that determines your Net Promoter Score (NPS): How likely are you to recommend us to a friend or colleague? This numeric gauge is imperative to improvement.
- Use a web-based service solution to simplify survey creation. We chose SurveyMonkey® because it integrates with our HubSpot CRM, which makes data collection and management easier. In many cases, integration with CRM is absolutely critical for making VoC as efficient as possible, so do the due diligence of choosing complementary platforms.
Email the appropriate contact(s)
In B2B environments, service companies often work with a team versus an individual. Sending a blanket email blast to all your client contacts is counterproductive. Work with your client services team to identify the 1-2 people on the team who most likely have relevant experience necessary to speak to your service.
Who emails the survey on behalf of your company and, in turn, receives the feedback is critical. Respondents need to understand that their answers are held in utmost confidence and, if shared, done anonymously in the aggregate. Assuring privacy encourages candor instead of answers potentially skewed by “being nice.”
In our case, our President Greg Linnemanstons is the only person who emails the surveys, receives and reviews the responses, and uses the feedback to guide his decisions about the company and teams.
A secondary benefit of having one point person is transparency, meaning no one can edit responses or selectively share it to put her/his performance in the best light. Improvement is best accomplished through praise and criticism.
Leverage your CRM
Using a survey tool (like SurveyMonkey) that integrates with your CRM gives you the best opportunity to get real-time information in front of your client services, sales and marketing teams. Centralizing objective data gives at-a-glance relationship “snapshots,” providing opportunities to continue to proactively delight customers.
Diligently track NPS
Your Net Promoter Score is the lifeline to your customer relationships. This simple 1-10 numeric insight into your customers’ likelihood to refer you to their colleagues is, in essence, measurable customer satisfaction. A running comparison of NPS scores demonstrates your relationships across time and helps you identify your biggest “fans” or focus on improving value to those reporting lower on the NPS scale.
Improve your process
While there’s an obvious connection between VoC and the “service” part of service industries, there are other benefits. We use the same automated techniques to gather customer feedback about specific large projects and to better understand why Weidert Group didn’t earn a prospect’s business after a sales pitch. The goal, like the process, remains the same: continuous improvement.
Automated marketing for VoC is a great tool for listening to and delighting customers—they appreciate being heard and knowing that their feedback matters. But the real magic happens in applying the data. It’s then that you can make meaningful programmatic changes to retain customers by: closing the gap between their expectations and your offerings; increasing relationship value and purchase activity; improving closing performance; and, creating client-promoters and evangelists for your company.