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 Voice of the Customer (VoC) programmes and Voice of the Employee (VoE) programmes have gathered huge momentum over the past five years. Companies increasingly recognise the need to tie the experience they offer to employees and customers into their core business strategies to foster growth and drive loyalty – internally and externally.  Often, however, these two key sources of feedback sit very firmly within their own silos say Claire Sporton and Tore Haggren.

There’s a wealth of evidence about the relationship between engaged employees and great customer experiences, but that is often where it stays: as theoretical evidence. How do you combine your VoC and VoE activities into a meaningful whole?  It’s a real challenge to combine the customer voice with the employee voice to create a programme that gathers feedback from both internal and external audiences and delivers clear insights and prioritisation for business improvement. While again based on proven cases, the difficulty in marrying VoC and VoE is integrating seemingly separate silos of information across their business.

Here, we’ll take a look at some practical steps you can take to implement integrated VoC and VoE programmes to create a lasting and successful marriage for your organisation.

Five Steps to Success

Fundamentally, there are five key steps that must be followed for an integrated VoC and VoE programme to become a core and successful function within a business:

  1. Define your programme

Before you start, it’s critical to agree the longer term vision and goals for a programme so you can measure success against key performance indicators. Make sure you break this vision into a number of manageable phases to ensure progress, establish key milestones and avoid paralysis by an overwhelming task list.

You also need to establish a core team of stakeholders, incorporating key personnel from ALL touchpoints of the programme. Specifically, you’ll need to ensure that those responsible for HR and customer experience are included, but buy into the need to combine BOTH audiences into a single programme. These stakeholders will be able to ensure programme goals are bought into at a team level and will have the necessary insight to measure success throughout the programme.

At the goal-setting stage, arrange team discussions about why VoC and VoE should be combined in the first place; what you can learn from combining employee and customer feedback; when and how you will measure progress; and how you will act on results.

  1. Design your programme

Next, create a structured programme framework. This spells out in detail how the programme will look and what activities will take place in practice. This framework create a clear and accurate path for progress across ALL aspects of the business. Take a phased approach to ensure steps are manageable and can deliver ROI sooner.  Consistency of metrics across customer experience, employee experience and the employees’ perspective of customer experience will be key to ensure later analysis and prioritisation of improvement activity across different aspects of the business.

Depending on core goals, you may need to implement a combination of techniques and tools. These could include traditional telephone or web surveys; social media analysis; annual, pulse or tracking surveys; qualitative research through focus groups or depth interviews; and manager or employee panels. What’s more, it’s essential to build in analytics to this process – after all, you need to understand what the data is saying to be able to take action on it.

  1. Establish and embed

With the groundwork complete and the theories of gathering employee and customer voices made practical through a clear framework, the next step is to establish the programme within the organisation and embed it across all the relevant touchpoints. To avoid silos, it’s often useful to consider all the touchpoints without putting them into “buckets” saying VoC or VoE – it’s all insight so just focus on where you need to be capturing feedback and for what purpose rather than which audience you’re asking.

This is where the work of the team of stakeholders begins in earnest, as it is their job to ensure their own teams understand and buy into what is happening. As the programme gets underway, introduce a continual feedback loop where feedback gathered is shared in near real time and either used to inform a specific team member or escalated to the wider strategic team for analysis alongside programme goals.

The most successful programmes are those that engage with the front line, empowering them to drive change through the provision of insights while also giving them the accountability to make changes, either in terms of their own behaviour or operational issues for their area of responsibility.

  1. Report and review

Once a programme is underway, it’s not enough to just let it run its course. To ensure the programme accurately reflects the original goals, you must measure and review.

This is where the analysis built into the programme design comes into its own. The data gathered can’t be turned into actionable insight unless you understand it, and you can’t act upon it unless you share insights in a usable way. What’s more analysis needs to be tailored and relevant: your head of HR, for example, will naturally be more interested in VoE reports, but will still need to see how this correlates to VoC feedback. In the same way, your customer experience manager will need deeper insight into customer feedback, but be mindful of how employee data feeds into this.

A role-based reporting solution that can provide everything from quick, top line analysis to in-depth drill down into aggregated data will allow you to identify company-wide and segment-specific (role, office, region) trends arising from the programme, and will also highlight areas for improvement in both the short and long term.

The art is to ensure that the right insights gets to the right people with a clear call to action.  The correct analytical tools can provide tailored reporting to different stakeholders, from board members to line managers, ensuring insight about areas of vulnerability and systemic problems is delivered to the right audience. Similarly, on a tactical, day-to-day level, automated alerts can escalate and prompt action upon individual customer or employee feedback, allowing much faster resolution of issues, strengthening relationships, and engendering customer and employee loyalty.

  1. Expand and plan

Of course the ultimate goal for any combined VoC and VoE programme is to drive strategic business change and boost the bottom line. As well as reviewing the programme on an ongoing basis you must have milestone reviews that allow you to identify and prioritise tactical and strategic actions based on these additional factors. This will maintain focus on ensuring the programme delivers business results through clear prioritisation of both strategic and process-based objectives.

This is something that can be very clearly measured by incorporating factors such as revenue performance and churn rate. By measuring the initial goals of a programme alongside revenue, customer churn figures and employee churn rates as three key metrics, it becomes clear just how significant the relationship between employee engagement and the customer experience is to business performance as a whole.

Use these indicators to adjust the programme. For example, six months into a programme you may seek to more tightly align the customer and employee voices, implementing a health check concept through which internal teams provide their feedback on client relationships and also prioritise and escalate both process and strategic improvement actions.

It’s essential to demonstrate to employees the ways in which they have contributed to programme success. Tell them exactly what has been done with the feedback they’ve provided, and make customer feedback available to all employees to demonstrate their role in delivering positive customer experiences.

The perfect union

As these steps show, much like a real marriage, undertaking a combined approach to VoC and VoE takes time, resource and investment. However, businesses that are prepared to commit in this way can reap rewards that are greater than the sum of their parts.

By following these core steps, you can not only enhance the experiences you offer to customers but can also drive deeper engagement with employees. So, when thinking about customer challenges, they shouldn’t be looked at alone. And when thinking about how to boost the engagement of staff, the same applies. By looking at both sides of the coin, you can create stronger, richer relationships that deliver real business impact through a client service culture, a continual feedback loop, broader and deeper client engagement, and improved user experience.

By Claire Sporton is VP Customer Experience Management, and Tore Haggren, Senior Vice President, Voice of the Employee, Confirmit

About the authors

Claire Sporton, VP Customer Experience Management, Confirmit Claire Sporton has specialised in customer feedback for almost 20 years, and has run programmes  in the Financial Services sector, and more recently with technology and consulting providers to  improve their customer experience. Claire’s focus at Confirmit is on ensuring Confirmit customers  can deliver feedback to the people who can make a difference to the end customer and generate  ROI.

Claire was instrumental in the development of Confirmit Voices, a customer engagement model  which provides an end to end approach to the Voice of the Customer.

Tore_Haggren_1  Tore Haggren holds the position of Senior Vice President, Voice of the Employee at Confirmit.He    initially joined Confirmit in 1998, two years after the company was founded in Norway. During his  tenure, he established offices in London, New York and San Francisco with a focus on Market  Research and Voice of the Customer.

In 2006, Haggren shifted his focus to successfully building Confirmit’s presence in the Voice of the  Employee (VoE) market. Today, many of the leading employee engagement consulting companies  have standardised their production-delivery system on the Confirmit solution, making it a fundamental part of how their businesses operate. He is committed to helping companies take a strategic approach to understanding the employee lifecycle and harnessing the Voice of the Employee to drive business change.