Voice of the Customer: Build Loyalty One Touchpoint at a Time

I bought shoes based on a LinkedIn post. A customer was raving about how excited he was to get his new running shoes only to end up promptly disheartened when his dog got ahold of one and chewed it up the next day. He emailed the company, hoping to get a coupon for a new pair. Instead he was invited to send the shoes back for a full refund with shipping paid. The company even added a note: “Please don’t be angry with your puppy.” Within six days he received his new pair of shoes. He was happy — and I was sold.

This company’s awareness of customer need and the opportunity to build a meaningful connection wasn’t wasted. It even managed to gain at least one new customer (me) because of this choice.

Customers want to be understood and have companies they interact with predict their needs. This man didn’t request a replacement, but the brand understood that the best way to leverage this customer’s passion for their product was to replace his shoes. Doing so built significant trust with him and invested in his loyalty and advocacy for the brand.

But how many brands leave a customer feeling this way?

Companies aim to inspire and make things easy. Some do this; some say they do this. But the truth lies in the experiences they enable their employees to deliver.

When a brand is delivering quality customer service, its customers and employees will be more likely to return. Retention is a result of trust and loyalty that’s been built — one interaction at a time. It’s important to recognize that customer engagement isn’t just chat sessions or phone calls into an IVR. Every time a customer is navigating your website, opening your app, viewing reviews online, reading or posting about your brand on social media — these are all interactions.

Design with Empathy to Better Understand Customers

Use empathy in how you design and understand experiences. The experience economy demands that service providers and vendors build a relationship with customers around their products. So much work is put into gaining new customers, much like adding followers on social media. But less effort is given to retaining customers and, even better, setting them up to want to shout from the rooftops about their amazing relationship.

The Voice of the Customer (VoC) is everywhere: social media, online reviews, messaging forums and — minimally leveraged but bursting with unrealized potential — the contact center. All those chats, all those interaction recordings, maybe even sentiment analysis lead to “a world without questions,” according to the “Customer experience horizons” report.

You don’t need to ask the customer what they want; they’re already telling you. Don’t ask them to repeat themselves. Instead, wow them by listening across channels and connecting touchpoints to provide the full customer picture to your employees. And this goes far beyond shoes — it reaches into all industries and sectors.

The Canadian Red Cross, for example, is focused on creating seamless donor experiences that lead to increased and repeat donations. By leveraging customer journey analytics, the organization was able to identify a potential opportunity to increase donor reactivation rates by 20% by engaging with the right customers based on their behavior.

One of the major findings in the report was the idea that “richly contextualized experiences will create mutual value for customers and brands.” This means brands can think of interactions as opportunities, whether that interaction is digital or human.

Every click and every word make up data; it’s a step along the customer and employee journey. Every interaction is full of opportunities to identify what customers want to be able to do, faster and more easily.

Put Your Customer at the Center of CX Design

Next, think about the design. During a recent workshop with customer experience leaders, my co-facilitators and I had participants imagine their company and customers as a family, where the customer was the child and they were the parent. Then we asked, “How would your child depict their relationship?” A participant drew a picture showing a child trying to get their mother’s attention. The mother was drawn with a cell phone in her hand and saying to the child “Go talk to your dad.”

How many of us have had that similar service experience? You’re talking to one department that seemingly wants to push your interaction to another department as soon as possible, leading to you having to repeat yourself.

Customer experience (CX) and technology transformation strategies are huge right now. The world of technology is changing faster than strategies, brand identities and investments can keep up.

Consumer demographics and expectations are also changing. I recently sat next to some folks on a flight who shared they were traveling to visit a new granddaughter and enjoy some time sightseeing. They asked if I was traveling for work (I was) and proceeded to ask some questions about what I do. When I explained my role as painting a picture of what’s possible with connected experiences, they asked, “What can you do about these voice recognition phone lines? I just want to talk to a person.”

Research shows that if Generation Z consumers can’t find an answer digitally, they’ll likely abandon a brand. My spouse and I, who are millennials, recently used a company to identify a cost-effective life insurance provider. They matched us with a vendor and we used them for three months until we moved and realized we couldn’t update our address or our billing information without using physical mail or a fax machine.

Brands cannot continue to dismiss customers and expect to build loyalty and trust. When you do, you risk them leaving entirely and meeting their needs elsewhere. Instead, you must provide an amazing experience that’s orchestrated and personal because you know them.

Electrolux Group built data-driven care centers in Italy and the UK where its employees can clearly link events, see why conversations did or didn’t convert into sales, and learn how to create better experiences next time. This allowed the home appliance manufacturer to realize an 89% increase in year-over-year sales conversions within the UK and Italian market.

The best way to design experiences is to seamlessly coordinate technology, interactions and touchpoints within a single cloud platform. Eliminate silos and understand the maturity of your various channels to deliver experiences that leave your customers and employees feeling known, heard and understood.

Are you meeting your customer expectations and building loyalty? How many of your customers have one chewed up shoe that you don’t know about? Read “Measure what matters: Customer loyalty” to learn how to improve your overall customer experience.