Voice of the Customer – Part 1 – Moments of Truth

The following is a guest post by Jim Jones, CEO & Founder of Voyant Consulting. 

I wrote a post in March describing the basics of a customer feedback loop. I couldn’t fully address the topic in a single post, so I’m now breaking it out into a series of three posts. In this initial post I’ll go deeper into determining ‘moments of truth’ with your customers. I’ll follow up with a discussion on analyzing and understanding customer feedback, and finish with insights on how to effectively communicate back to customers when you’ve heard and acted on their feedback.

Finding Your Organization’s “Moments of Truth”

“Moments of truth” are those significant points in your company’s interaction with a customer. As you build your customer experience strategy, consider surveying your customers at significant points in your interaction with them. A Harvard Business Review article states that “the most important interactions [with a customer] are ‘moments of truth,’ those few points of contact that hold the greatest potential to delight — or alienate — an organization’s customers.”

“Moments of truth” tend to vary based on the type and size of your business. Your customers’ interactions with the technical support team is an obvious moment of truth. But how do clients feel about the sales process? Do clients make effective use of the company’s online help portal (if it exists)? How does the company resolve billing inquiries and issues? All these touch points have an effect on the customer relationship.

The best way to understand the touch points your company has with your customers, and how they affect your relationship with them, is through the process of journey mapping. Journey mapping should ideally be an “outside in” view of your company – that is, start with the point of view of your customers, not with how your company is organized. Because customer success and sales teams have very close day-to-day interactions with your customers, they are essential to the journey mapping process.

You don’t have to spend weeks or months mapping out your customer interactions, especially if it’s just your first iteration. Even if you map out just a few of the most obvious interaction points, this process provides several advantages to your organization:

  • You now have a place to start from for future iterations
  • It helps you quickly examine some of the most influential moments of truth with your customers
  • Your organization will begin to think from a customer’s perspective

A quick Google search will show you lots of thought leadership and tools for journey mapping. Gather as much advice as you need to get started – but make sure you’re not getting hung up on finding the “right” process or tool. Just start getting the process down and, again, revise as you grow and mature.

Once the map is complete, teams should weigh in on the relative importance of the “moments of truth” in the journey. Not all customer touch points are equal, and some are much more influential on your relationship with your customer. Don’t get overwhelmed by starting measurements for all touch points all at the same time. Rather, pick a few key areas that have profound impact on your customer relationships and begin collecting customer feedback in these areas. Since your customer success team engages so closely with customers on a daily basis, they can give you a really good read on where to put your focus.

Measuring and Monitoring

Once you’ve settled on a few key touch points, it’s time to begin soliciting and collecting feedback. Customer feedback can generally be categorized in four ways:

    1. Quantitative Feedback: This is the most common type of feedback that companies collect.  Quantitative data includes surveys with scalar results (1-5 or 1-10 scale, etc.), yes/no selections or thumbs up/down or star rating systems. This type of data is easy to collect and analyze, but may not provide you with insight as to why a certain rating was given. To be effective, it has to be combined with qualitative feedback.
    2. Qualitative Feedback: This feedback comes from open-ended or free form questions like “Please tell us why you gave this rating?” This data provides real insight to what your customers are thinking and feeling about their engagement with you. It will also make you aware of issues that can be addressed quickly, or issues that affect only a single customer. Look for trends in qualitative data, as these trends will clue you into the sentiment of your customer base.
    3. Solicited Feedback: This is usually the main method companies use to get insight into customer sentiment. Simply put, your company asks its customers what they think or feel about their interactions with you. You can collect this feedback through online, email and telephone surveys of your customers. Your customer success team should also be able to solicit direct feedback from your strategic customers at the key touch points of their relationship. To be meaningful, solicited feedback should be statistically significant and should contain a mix of quantitative and qualitative data.
    4. Unsolicited Feedback: This type of feedback is the one most commonly neglected in the measuring and monitoring processes. Unsolicited feedback is a customer or partner providing you with information when they want to, not necessarily when you would expect it. It is usually spontaneous, so you’ll need to plan for it. Additionally, unsolicited feedback is generally more meaningful because your customer had a positive or negative reaction that was strong enough to cause them to speak out.

A variety of tools are available to collect, aggregate and analyze all these types of feedback. It is important for your customer success team to know all the current surveys and feedback mechanisms used by your company, how their customers have responded, and any outstanding action items that are due from that feedback.

In our next post on the voice of the customer, we’ll dive into analyzing the data and ensuring that you have a closed-loop feedback system.

About the Author: 

Jim Jones is the founder and CEO of Voyant Consulting, a Chicago-based firm that helps clients improve customer loyalty by improving their Customer Success organizations. In his previous roles with multiple international technology companies, Jim has a history of increasing customer loyalty, and improving customer retention by building world-class customer success and customer support groups. He has also been a featured speaker and blogger on the topics of customer success, voice of the customer programs and customer experience.

Be sure to visit Voyant Consulting on the web and to follow Jim on Twitter or connect via LinkedIn.

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