Acting on the voice of the customer doesn’t (or shouldn’t) happen in just one department or one area of the company. I like to think of it in levels. For simplicity sake, here are three common levels where VoC action should be taking place:
CORPORATE – At the corporate level, action should be very strategic. Based on customer insights, action plans should address issues such as overall retention, forecasting future revenues, projecting attrition, and considering customer perceptions on topics such as brand reputation, ethics, market position, and how you stack up against the competition.
FUNCTIONAL – Action at the functional level action becomes more tactical and involves specific areas such as business units and key departments. This middle level is the most diverse of the three. It refers to all groups throughout your enterprise that can benefit from the voice of the customer. These include departments such as service, account management, sales, and product development, R & D, marketing, and many others. In each case customer strategists should provide each group the customer information they need to improve their specific operation. What’s more, they should implement a prioritization process to ensure the most important issues are escalated to require action.
CUSTOMER-FACING – This is when action takes place one customer at a time. This is most common in business-to-business organizations where action is critical at the account level. To effectively manage at the account level customers advocates must work closely with strategic account managers and sales managers so highly customized information is provided to their people and they are trained on how to use it to drive business with specific accounts. Action at this level should be focused on improving account relationships to boost retention and grow revenue.
Too often voice-of-the-customer strategies are focused on one area or one department. Or, companies may do a good job of acting on customer insights at one level, but they don’t fully leverage insights across the organization. Customer strategists are wise to occasionally take inventory to determine the areas where customer insights could provide a well needed boost.