I just finished reading Ernan Roman’s latest book, Voice-of-the-Customer Marketing: A Revolutionary 5-Step Process to Create Customers Who Care, Spend, and Stay and I must say, this book is a gift to marketers, management and any business owners who truly cares about their customers.
After reading the interview, I knew that I had to put this book on the top of my reading list because it not only embodies my beliefs on customer-centric business—it provides a process to bring the customer closer to the center of the organization.
While “voice of the customer ” research has been around for a while, Ernan shares his five-step process so that companies can put VOC research into practice. For those who might be speculative, the process is backed with solid case studies.
Listening Versus Understanding
The foundation to any well thought out social media strategy is listening. If you are familiar with social media, you know listening means using tools like Radian6, SM2 or Google Alerts to capture what people are saying about your brand on the Internet.
However, there is a lot of work that needs to take place between listening, understanding and implementing change. Listening online alone often leads to a misunderstanding of context and nuance.
Scott Rogers captures that best in his post, Listening Versus Understanding: There is a Difference.
“The first step in listening (and any VOC program) involves obtaining customer feedback. Customer feedback, whether it happens in real-time or later, is the customer’s viewpoint.
Customer feedback comes from those whose desire to give feedback exceeds the personal constraints for giving feedback – time, place, personality traits, etc. Back in 2007, J. Walter Smith from Yankelovich gave a speech at the CRMC Conference in Chicago where he mentioned, from their national survey, the dollar value the average person thought a minute of their time was worth – it came to well over 3 times the national average income. In other words, we must cherish the feedback customers give us, because it shows how much value it had to them to provide that feedback.
It is human nature to simplify, categorize, clarify, and make things black and white. Those of us who practice the art (or science, depending on your bent) of ‘listening’ to customer feedback need to not only understand that ‘if no two people interpret anything in the exact same way’, this pertains not only to the customers we are ‘listening to’, but to us too – the listener.”
The pitfall with using social media listening alone is that it is just one channel. Obviously, it’s not smart to use the feedback of one channel to determine what business shifts must take place to meet customer needs and wants. It takes on- and off-line interactions and multiple channel analysis.
Voice of the Customer Marketing is the key to unlocking the full benefit of listening to, learning from and tapping into the wisdom of the customer.
Step One: Conduct and Apply VOC Relationship Research
- Interviewing customers, prospects, and key stakeholders to understand how they expect the marketer to satisfy their needs for a high-value relationship.
Step Two: Create VOC-Driven Opt-In Relationship Strategies
- Engaging prospects and customers to tell you exactly what they value and want from you…and what they don’t want from you.
Step Three: Create a VOC-Driven Multichanel Mix
- Creating an integrated, multichannel marketing program that engages and inspires your customer.
Step Four: Create a VOC-Driven Social Media Presence
- Creating strategies for real-time engagement with your customers and prospects.
Step Five: Invest in an Excellent Customer Service Experience
- Not pretending that customer service is something for operations to worry about.
Companies That Gave Their Customers a Voice
Voice of the Customer Marketing offers case studies that show step-by-step how companies have not only tapped into their customers, but have changed the game in their industry by doing so. Companies like:
- Walt Disney Company
- Tiny Prints
- Ford Motor Company
- HMS National
- Lifeline Screening
- Palms Trading Company
- MSC Industrial Direct
The mix of case studies proves that Voice of the Customer Marketing works regardless of industry or size. There is no room for the “that’s only for B2C or large companies” excuse.
How about it? Will you consider giving your customers a voice? There is no reason not to now that someone has provided you with a process.
[Disclaimer: I received a free copy of Voice of the Customer Marketing through McGraw-Hill’s Business Insider Program. I had the opportunity to select this book as part of the program and did so because it focuses on customer-centric business.]
[Image: TMS ]