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4 Simple Ways to Focus on the Voice of the Customer

We are all aware that retaining customers is key to any growth strategy. We’ve seen the facts and figures to support the sentiment…
”It is estimated to costs five times as much to attract a new customer than it does to keep an existing one.” 
“Increasing customer retention rates by 5% increases profits by between 25% and 95%”
Many companies feel Voice of the Customer (VoC) programs are the only way to stay ahead of the competition. According to the Gartner Group, 95% of companies say they regularly listen to their customers. So, are you focusing on customer acquisition and retention equally? As you ponder this question, remember that retention is not as much about investing money as it is about investing time. Making regular 1:1 connections with your current customers is what will stand out in their hearts and minds, and put you on a path to enlightenment (and becoming the market leader). 
Here are 4 SIMPLE ways to focus on the voice of the customer…
1. Informal feedback for the win!
Reach out and engage in an informal face-to-face or phone conversation with your customers. You might be surprised to find that they speak freely with you about their thoughts. When they do, listen and be sure to only ask clarifying questions as needed so the understanding of the feedback is mutual. Even if the feedback is hard to hear, or you want to solve it on the spot, make promises, assign blame, etc., don’t. Just listen. 
“When customers share their story, they’re not just sharing pain points. They’re actually teaching you how to make your product, service, and business better. Your customer service organization should be designed to efficiently communicate those issues.” 
- Kristin Smaby, “Being Human is Good Business”
2. Loop colleagues into feedback in real-time
Customer insights are only as valuable as the actions that they drive and the timeliness of those actions. To ensure customer feedback is acted upon, discuss with the applicable cross-functional teams (i.e. marketing, accounting, shipping, etc.), so you can work together to address feedback holistically. Your advocacy for the customer will rub off on your colleagues and eventually the customer will become the center of everything you do.  
3. Lay the foundation to prevent future issues
In the interest of improvement, it is important that you and your colleagues have a simple process for reviewing, interpreting and acting on customer feedback to compel change within your company. Having some structure around these activities can be enough to empower your colleagues to place an emphasis on the voice of the customer. Giving recognition and incentives internally for enhancing customer experience are also great for getting buy-in. 
4. Set the stage for continued partnership
Once you get in the rhythm of proactively gathering and acting on customer feedback internally, share your improvements with the customers who lead to these improvements. Nothing will help them appreciate your partnership more than seeing your advocacy and caring in action. Sharing your improvements informally through the same representative who heard the feedback in the first place is the best bet.