Building a best-in class VOC program w/ Megan Germann

1 of the best things about my job is getting to chat with and more importantly, learn from, other like-minded CX professionals. Not too long ago, I had a lovely discussion with Megan Germann about all things Voice of the Customer. We spent quite a bit of time discussing key elements to building a best-in-class program in the B2B space.

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Voice of the Customer with Megan Germann

Thu, 3/12 3:39PM • 19:36


Megan Germann, Janelle Mansfield

Janelle Mansfield

Hi everyone, it's Janelle here from Amplified Customer Experience and today, we are going to do a deep dive on voice the customer programs with Megan. And I'm so so excited because she's got such an interesting background. She's got a research background that she has leveraged to make these voice the customer programs are so much more valuable for the businesses that she works with. So I'm gonna let her introduce herself and then we'll dive into our deep dive on VOC's.

Megan Germann

Thanks Janelle. My name is Megan Germann. I'm currently the customer insights manager for Hitachi Ventura, I have created and launched the voice the customer program to support our overall customer experience enterprise initiative. So it's my job to solicit feedback from for Hitachi customers and partners and eventually employees as soon as we ramp up and get there.

Janelle Mansfield

I'm really excited that we're covering this topic because I get asked a lot about voc programs. And one of the things I've noticed is that just so many Businesses kind of take an ad hoc approach to the voice of the customer, they'll issue a survey here or there, or they'll consistently have surveys, but they maybe aren't reviewing the data or actually generating any insights or actions from, from their questions or their surveys. So I'm super excited to start talking about this with you. So my first question just First of all, so people can kind of understand there's lots of misconceptions in this space. What was the customer mean, and why is it important to business?

Megan Germann

Sure. So voice of the customer is actually creating that customer understanding that's one of the core six competencies of a Customer Experience Program. In order to have a strong cx program. You really need to understand what your customers are feeling, what they're thinking, what they need, and maybe even discern what what they need if they're not giving it directly to you. You know, Amazon's thing is, we don't know what we need until we have it right. Like who knows that we needed a drone deliver Have a product so so hearing customers and hearing their pain points and understanding where those areas of improvement exist. And there's a wealth of information out there, you mentioned surveys, which is obviously one of kind of the key things that people do. It's one of the basics. You have to design those with clear strategy behind it. So you're not, you're not adding to survey fatigue, because customers, you know, you can't go and buy a cup of coffee without being asked how your experience was. So when you do a survey, it shouldn't be ad hoc. It shouldn't be willy nilly. It should be well thought out while strategize to make sure that you're tapping into your customers in a in a strategic manner. But outside of surveys, you have things like social media listening, and call support listening and all those those untapped sources of data that you have out there that you can start pulling into a system and understanding where your customers are coming from and listening to them. Both the solicited feedback with the surveys and unsolicited feedback with this social media and support center transcripts

Janelle Mansfield

So can you maybe just like break it down into what are the different elements that comprise a voice of the customer program? And how would you know that it's well defined or that it's complete?

Megan Germann

So I'm not sure it was the customer program is ever complete, right? I think it's something that is constantly evolving. They are constantly hearing different tidbits of information across the organization. There's a wealth of different types of research that you can do on so if we look at the solicited feedback, there's customer surveys, cx surveys that measure the basic metrics like NPS overall satisfaction, customer effort score on these are often relationship surveys as well as transactional surveys. So you want to make sure that you're measuring both because you want to make sure that you're tapping into those specific interactions that customers have with you, such as the closing of a support ticket, or the closing of a sale. But you also want to understand, you know, the overall relationship of how that customer feels about your brands. You have those keys yet cx metrics of NPS and others But you also need to understand the why behind it. And that's where those open ended questions come in and are key and asking those survey questions because you can understand that number and the number is great. And it's great to measure and tie to KPIs and stuff. But it doesn't give you that customer understanding and understanding of where those pain points are. And understanding where those areas improvements are. And other solicited feedback. You can do things like in depth interviews and focus groups, in depth interviews are great for understanding the customer journey. in a b2b environment like I am, it's key to soliciting feedback because customers have that survey fatigue. And you know, when you're surveying a business, we all you know, work hard or all, you know, Max at max out and 5060 hours a week. So we don't want to spend, you know, eight minutes taking a survey. So it's important to to look beyond the survey and to find other ways to tap into those key customers and talk to them and understand where they're coming from, you know, what drives their decision making, where their pain points are, where you can improve to make their experience Working with you better. Then you have the unsolicited feedback on social media, the blogs, the call center, email, transcripts, calls, transcripts. And that's, that's not unstructured data that you need to be careful in how you analyze, and which I'm a big proponent of AI and machine learning so that it's not a manual process. And so it's more systematic and consistent across the analytic journey. But tapping into the unstructured data is also very, very valuable, because that's that information that customers are not necessarily telling you, but they're out there saying, and so it's that voice of the customer that's external, that you need to make sure that you're you're paying attention to. And then there's the third side, and that's operational data. And tying the experience data to operational data can help you predictively analyze, you know, customer churn, customer retention, customer loyalty, and also that helps give you better ROI numbers from a cx perspective.

Janelle Mansfield

Great. So you touched on one of the top buzzwords in CX, which is NPS and I know everybody who's watching This will have received an NPS survey. Do you want to talk a little bit about just the NPS side of things and how that ties in or connects with the voc program?

Megan Germann

Sure. So NPS is certainly a buzzword and cx I'm personally I'm not a huge fan of it. I think that that it's, there are so many slight nuances to how it's calculated that it can, it can sway either way, right? So one person in a small sample set makes a huge difference. And when you're dealing in a b2b environment, that one person does make a huge difference because we have fewer customers to tap into. We have lower response rates. It's also difficult from a comparison standpoint, because NPS is measured from a relationship standpoint and transactional standpoint. And so when you're comparing your company to another company, you don't necessarily know if their NPS score that they're touting is relationship or transactional, transactional NPS is are always hire because typically something has been closed. So the satisfaction is high, you know, The support case ticket, you know, the tickets close to someone satisfied. Um, that being said, it's a great metric because it is standardized across the industry. It's something that everyone knows. It's something that everyone monitors and it's easy for customers to answer, you know, how likely are you to recommend? It's a long scale, but it's not a difficult one to answer. Because MBs is so focused on though that's where that y comes in. That's where the importance of the Y Okay, so I gave you three, you know, I'm not gonna recommend you, well, why is that? What can we do to improve? That's really where the voice of the customer and the customer understanding comes into play with NPS. Um, so in my mind, um, he has a great cx cx metric. But the goal of the company should not be to increase NPS, it should be to increase the customer experience, and therefore an increase in NPS is the result of that.

Janelle Mansfield

Interesting, I love your point on in NPS, it's the comments where you'll find the gold and I think not enough people as customers take the time to provide that additional feedback. So so many businesses are relying on the numbers alone. And I think that contributes, you know, or that's due in part to the survey fatigue. Because we're getting surveyed every single day like, I don't know how many surveys you get a day, but I probably get three or four a day.

Megan Germann

Yeah, first of all, I, you know, I joke with people in my company about survey fatigue. As I say, I'm a market researcher, that's my background. So it was my job to send out surveys, and I delete surveys every single day. And I'm, you know, the number one I'm like, take my survey. So yeah, survey fatigue is truly a thing. And that's why it's important to tap into those other sources of voc data.

Janelle Mansfield

Right. So, at your company, how are you guys tackling survey fatigue? How are you a strategy of building a strategy to come back? That's that you get more responses and therefore better data and better understanding.

Megan Germann

So there's several things that we're doing. Again, we're a b2b company. So account relationships are our number one, and how to tap into getting customer participation. So we do a communications plan. Each time we do a survey, and reach out to those account owners and letting them know that they're their customer will be contacted. And we ask them to encourage their customer participation. We tell them why this is important, what we're doing with the information, and then asking them to help us get that feedback from customers. We are also supplementing survey data with things like in depth interviews, focus groups, customer advisory boards, executive advisory boards, and we're listening across as many channels in the solicited manner as possible. We're also making sure that we're focusing on those key segments when they're underrepresented in the surveys. So we have global accounts for those big huge accounts, you know, the 8020 rule. So we're making sure when they're not taking our surveys, that we're reaching out to them personally in touch talking to them and saying, Hey, can we have a conversation with you, we just want to understand how it's going, you know, this feedback won't be tied back to anything, we just want to know where we can improve how we can improve. I'm not your salesperson, I'm here to listen to you and take your feedback and make changes within the organization to do a better job to serve you. Great.

Janelle Mansfield

Have you found that by using that multi channel approach, you are getting more responses and more data overall?

We are certainly getting more data. And each time we tap into a different channel, and hear from different customers in a different way. It just validates the other information we're hearing. So we're certainly consistently hearing over and over the same, you know, hey, we want more of this. We want more of this, we want more of this. So that just helps validate those smaller sample size that we're hearing in the survey. And we can take it up to leadership and say, yeah, you know, this is only you know, 100 or so people saying this, but we also heard it at our customer conference. And we also heard at the executive advisory board. We also heard it here. So it's definitely you know, consistent theme across customer customers and partners. Okay, how are we going to address it? What are we going to do now? So tapping into those multiple multi channel approaches is it's, you know, given traction to the program.

So I just want to change gears just a little bit. So you've been talking a little bit about b2b. And that's where your focus is right now. But can you touch on b2c and what you maybe want to do differently in a voc program, because it's b2c versus b2b? Sure.

Megan Germann

So in b2c, a lot more of this social listening is is really key to a voc program. You'll know the surveys, the MVs overall satisfaction. That's, that's great. You can get higher response rates and more feedback from that. But it's important to listen to what customers are saying externally, right, look at Facebook, look at blogs, look at look at what they're saying out there in review sites, because it's important to hear what they're saying to other people to understand where those big gaps are, as opposed to what they're saying. To you, they may say something different to you than they are posting out there. And what they're doing is they are posting right. So other people are impacted by what your customers are saying. So it's vital, vital to tap into that unstructured unsolicited data to understand where you need to improve, because that is actually out there to other people.

Yeah, I think that's a really good point because I heard an interesting stat, that between 60 to 80% of buying decisions are influenced by social reviews. And more than that, people are only reviewing the top three to five reviews that show up so they don't dig deeper and look at the last 20 or the last 50. They're only looking at the top three to five reviews. So what that means I think for a business is that they need to stay on top of it. They need to have an entire program dedicated to managing those reviews to listening and still responding and responding appropriately. Because you're customers or customers are making their buying decisions based on what those social reviews are saying,

For sure. And from a personal perspective, I don't just look at those top reviews, I look at the bad reviews, you know, I want to see what's wrong with the product. What's wrong with this retailer? You know, what am I getting myself into? If I'm looking at that? And if if companies can tap into that resource, and look at those bad reviews and figure out what they need to address that can combat that influence.

Janelle Mansfield

Yeah. So just to clarify, for those watching, when I said the top three to five, I meant the first three to five reviews are actually not the best three bucket reviews, just in case. You're confused there. Where do you tend to focus along the customer journey when you have a complex journey, such as those b2b shift?

Yeah, so when we look at at surveys, the transactional surveys are important, right, because it touches on certain touch points. But what stands out in people's minds are those salient those important experiences And that tends to be an experience with the product itself. So and this is this is the same regardless of b2b or b2c, it's the product experience. You know, the experience in the store, they experience online experience with people. That is a middle important, but really the most important impact on a customer journey is actually using the product and using the item itself. So right now we're focused on a very product focused journey and understanding from our customer standpoint, how they're using the product, what what we're not delivering on what we're delivering while on. So we know that we're continuing that route, but it's assailant experiences that tend to be related to products that are most important when you're trying to figure out where to focus first. And of course, we're also focusing on where those those common themes come about as we listen to customers across the channels right. As it turns out, ours are most 75% of those common themes are related to product So that that salient Gartner research said it's about product is coming through in the voice of our customer.

I think that's a really important point for viewers to understand is that not all points along the journey are equal. So you might have a bad experience at a certain point in the journey, but it's not as impactful or as important to your overall experience. And so being really clear in your industry and for your business, where those moments of impact actually exist, because you could spend a lot of time fixing things that really aren't important to customers. And I actually today it's really interesting that we're talking about this because I had my first survey that was actually asking me to rate, the level of importance of different points along the journey, and then rate my satisfaction associated with each of those. So we're going to start to see that more and more I think in the survey space where customers are going to be asked to rank the level of importance of each of those points along the journey.

Absolutely. And One of the things I'm doing to touch on that is, I have a what I call my voc panel of customers who have said, Sure, reach out to me anytime I'm willing to talk to you. And so I tap into them about every six months and send out a survey and say, Hey, you know, here are the points in the customer journey. What's the most important to you right now. And we then map that to where they are in, in our customer journey. But we are gauging and understanding the importance across the journey to to figure out from our customers perspective, you know, what are the most important experiences and touch points?

Janelle Mansfield

Great. So, before we wrap up, I'd love to just kind of introduce to folks, your chapter in the customer experience books. Do you want to give a quick summary of what you're talking about in your chapter in the customer experience book that was just released?

Megan Germann

Sure. So I wrote on the first article and the voc chapter, and what it is, is really just kind of a checklist of what needs to happen. To create a best in class voc program, you know everything from understanding that customer journey to then acting on the feedback that you're hearing from the customers. There is a wealth of to dues and and best practices within that that journey. But it really touches on kind of this high level, okay, you should do this, you should do this, you should do this in order to build a world class and best in class, voc program that so that you can get to that customer understanding so crucial in a cx program.

What I loved about your chapter is that it was so tangible, it was just really easy to read it and to as a cx professional, or you know, even someone in a cx adjacent role to look at it and see what needs to happen to create that voc program. And so I highly recommend for anybody that's, you know, at all involved with voice the customer programs to read her chapter in the book customer experience, which is available now. Online. For the Kindle edition, and the paperback version is coming out in a few weeks. And if you have any more questions for either of us, both of our contact information is in the description below. And don't forget to subscribe to the channel to amplify customer experience because there's more one on one interviews with the other authors of the book, as well as just some other really interesting cx related content. So before I close out, I'll just hand it over to Megan for some final thoughts on cx.

Thanks, Janelle. I really appreciated this time and had a great conversation with you. I'm a huge proponent of cx. I come from a data analysis and research background and I think that it's vital to listen to your customers in order to really build you know, a strong business and keep growing your business. There's a stat out there that says that customers are willing to pay more if they had a good experience. And that is so true. And you can't give them that experience. If you're not listening to what they're saying and what they need and what they want from you.

Janelle Mansfield

Great. Well thanks again for your time. And for all of you out there watching. Please comment below. Send us some questions if you have any and we'll talk soon. Thanks, everyone.


customer, survey, nps, cx, voc, tap, solicited feedback, reviews, important, understanding, journey, customer experience, program, data, hearing, understand, feedback, listening, overall satisfaction, business

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