The voice of the customer has never been so impactful and significant. In today's business world, competition is fiercer than ever, and the focus on growing products and services is shifting from a product-oriented approach to market-oriented one. In layman's terms, the seismic shift we’ve seen has put the customer voice at the centre of product & service development.
Are we surprised?
Not entirely, the emerging trend of customer-centricity has been growing over recent years. As other competitive advantages reach saturation, 2016 sees many business experts across an array of industries predict consumer-centricity to be the key driver of success.
Previously, only large blue chip companies truly had the opportunity to connect with their customers in-depth and at scale. Other companies traditionally faced reach limitations such as the high costs of conducting a focus group or other qualitative methodologies, and the lengthy time constraints involved in reaching out to communities - as well as the process of conducting the research itself.
The impact of technological advancements
A multitude of communication platforms creates more engagement opportunities in today's world. The changing dynamics of modern media are a core reason for the rise of the customer-centric trend in 2016. Companies are continuously turning to innovation as a source of competitive advantage, and this year will look to place the focus on the customer - listening to their needs to better understand their evolving behaviour. This sort of malleable information can then be shaped and brought to life in the form of customer stories, and businesses can then use this information to deliver the right products and services that fulfill these newly recognised needs.
The exponential growth in technological capabilities, as well as the rising number of engaged users, has opened opportunities for new and improved multichannel access to customers. Notably, advancements involving social media and mobile technology have further fueled 2016’s customer-centric trend.
Brands are now taking full advantage of the ever increasing number of active users on social media platforms. They are using these channels to engage directly with customers, communicating brand messages directly to their online community on a global level, 24/7.
Brands can quickly gain valuable feedback from customers and deal with any satisfaction issues while improving the overall omnichannel experience. This in turn supports after sale service - a vital part of fulfilling the later stages of the customer journey - and achieving specific KPI’s like customer retention and leading consumers to brand advocacy.
Another contributor to the unstoppable rise of customer-centricity is the continued increase in mobile usage.
Who would have thought that rectangular device in our pockets would evolve into what it is today, encapsulating so much capability and becoming such a huge part of how we live our lives.
Many experts have predicted that 2016 will also see an increase in mobile usage for all communication related to customer research through Voice of the Customer (VoC) programmes, customer feedback and a growing platform to support customer engagement via social media.
Mobile is certainly here to stay, and integrating it into VoC programmes effectively embraces its power to connect people to businesses.
So, what does this mean for VoC?
All of these advancements mean customers now have an amplified, more active voice across multiple channels.
All businesses need to do is to open their eyes and ears, and adopt these technological platforms to hear their customers’ evolving needs.
The voice of the customer is increasing in volume, and it has never been so simple to capture meaningful and impactful stories. Careful analysis of these stories, shared effectively with decision makers, will ensure valuable consumer insight drives business change.
Implementing a VoC programme is fast becoming a standard industry practice, with companies placing customer centricity at the forefront of strategies. However, as VoC and CX professionals, do we still have a long way to go to adopt these advancements into our research toolkit? The Winter 2015 GRIT Report noted that well over 50% of all surveys are still not mobile optimised.
Properly implemented VoC programmes have the power to help companies make strategic decisions based on customer insight, but to reap the benefits it is essential to keep pace with technological developments.
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