This CX Mini Masterclass explains how to leverage employees to bolster your VOC (Voice of Customer) efforts. Employees often have a unique perspective into the lives and experiences of customers. Show host and customer experience expert, Julia Ahlfeldt, teaches listeners how different employee groups can add value to VOC and research programs, as well as how to engage with these teams to gather insights. If you’ve been looking for a way to super charge your customer insight efforts and engage teams in the process, this episode is for you.
Employees and VOC
Episode 39 covered the definition of Voice of the Customer and why customer insight and understanding are so important, plus some of the most popular methodologies for gathering VOC data. Many of these programs are outward looking, which makes sense. This CX competency is called Voice of Customer after all, but employees can also add richness to an organization’s understanding of its customers.
Before diving into the ways that employee insights about the customer can augment VOC, it’s important to state the obvious: the employee perspective should never be your only window into the Voice of Customer. Organizations often either over-rely on their employees for customer insights, or ignore them altogether. But you can strike the right balance.
The value of different perspectives
Employees do provide a special perspective into the customer experience. This can take several different forms. The most obvious is the perspective of front-line teams. These employees live and breathe the customer experience. They often have an excellent pulse on what delights and irks customers, as well as where experiences are working or not. These teams can offer extra context that helps us understand customers. If survey data leaves your scratching your head, then customer-facing teams might be able to help you understand the back story.
Employees can also provide insight through their organic feedback on what they see as a customer’s preferences, decision drivers or sentiment. This qualitative insight should then be validated with other data, which is an important step, as individual employees normally lack the macro view of broader trends within a customer base.
Employees who work behind the scenes still support experiences, and may have unique insight into patterns of customer behavior that shed light on what’s working and what’s not. These findings should be compared against other qualitative research to determine the impact on things like sentiment.
Additionally, all employees are consumers in their own right. In the age of the customer, brands aren’t just pitted against their direct competitors, but rather the next best customer experience out there. In this sense, employees’ experiences as consumers are also valuable, regardless of whether or not they are customers of their organizations’ products/services. Again, the key is to make sure that these insights augment other research, and that employee driven VOC findings are vetted with another data source.
Engaging employees for VOC insights
There are several ways to engage with employees to gather their insights about customers and customer experience
- Collaboration platforms – Shared platforms like Yammer or Slack that are already in use by the organization, can be a great way for employees to share customer insights as they see them. Just be careful that this doesn’t become a channel for venting.
- Call to action in existing employee communications – Leverage existing employee communication tools to ask for feedback. Think about adding a CTA button in the company newsletter or a question in the annual employee survey. You could also ask team leaders to add customer insights as a discussion item in team huddles or quarterly department meetings.
- Targeted conversations – If you are looking to dive deep into a specific topic, think about engaging with teams in a very targeted way. You could do this through interviews or an employee focus group.
Be aware of the internal inflection point
Since employees are so close to the pulse of the experience and are customers themselves, employees can be an excellent source of insight on innovation and improvements to the journey. Game changing innovations such as Amazon Prime came from the humble beginnings of the employee suggestion box. This is where voice of customer begins its inflection point inward towards solution-mode.
The jump from insights to innovation can be a short one, but for the most part you should try to keep these conversations focused on observations and insights. Save solution development for another conversation.
Want to keep learning about CX?
If you’d like to checkout more of these CX Mini Masterclasses or listen to my longer format CX expert interviews, check out the full listing of episodes for this CX podcast.
And if you are looking to super-charge your CX skills and continue learning, be sure to check out CX University. They have a great array of CXPA accredited training resources available on a flexible monthly subscription plan. Use the code PODCAST10 to get 10% off your first month’s subscription and support this podcast.
Decoding the Customer is a series of customer experience podcasts created and produced by Julia Ahlfeldt, CCXP. Julia is a customer experience strategist, speaker and business advisor. She is a Certified Customer Experience Professional and one of the top experts in customer experience management. To find out more about how Julia can help your business achieve its CX goals, check out her customer experience advisory consulting services (including VOC research and customer insight) or get in touch via email.