This article originally appeared in the Dec. 2011 issue of Customer Interaction Solutions
Whether you’re designing a mobile app, redesigning an IVR or an agent desktop, you know that understanding – and using – voice of the customer is critical for effective solutions. But you don’t have budget or time for focus groups, surveys and all that entails, you say.
My first reaction is that if you don’t invest in customer input at the front end, you’ll pay a higher cost on the back end in customer dissatisfaction, complaints and defection. My second and kinder reaction is to offer free or low cost ways to capture the voice of the customer that you can do quickly and easily. Use inexpensive or free online survey tools. Focus on identifying the things that are important to your customers when dealing with your company, and the things that can differentiate you from your competition.
Consider new venues for focus groups and quick testing. If you’re a retail store or a bank, you can quickly assemble customers for a discussion. Or you can have customers try out your new website, mobile app or IVR.
Build customer experience maps. Put yourself in your customer’s shoes and try to accomplish three or four common tasks. Where are the opportunities to improve the customer experience?
Understand customer lifecycles. Customers may start by browsing and research and move through acquisition to product replacement. Are you missing key moments of truth to increase satisfaction, build loyalty or get more wallet share?
Base designs on customer segments or at least user tasks. Using personas helps you understand whether the channel and the design are useful and appropriate for different customer groups.
Get as close to the customer as you can. Having customers involved in all aspects of design is seldom an option. So include people who have regular contact with customers on your team – agents, repair and field personnel, salespeople, or tellers.
So next time you think you don’t have time or money for customer research, think again.
Elaine Cascio is a vice president at Vanguard Communications Corp. (www.vanguard.net), a consulting firm specializing in customer experience, self service, contact center processes, operations and technology.
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Edited by Stefania Viscusi