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Not too long ago, businesses could leverage their brand reputation to create a loyal customer base — one that saw the brand as a symbol of quality and great customer service. Unfortunately, the idea of brand loyalty is fading and companies must find new ways to adapt.

Welcome to the era of empowered buyers.

Your buyers have more data at their fingertips than ever before, making it increasingly difficult to break through the noise and influence purchase decisions. Our research indicates that companies feel the fact that customers are empowered with a wealth of information on competitive products and services is the primary challenge for customer experience management (CEM) programs.

Differentiation is no longer rooted solely in products and services—it revolves around a superior customer experience. To truly differentiate your customer experience, you must have a finely-tuned Voice of the Customer (VoC) program in place.

Adapting to Buyer Empowerment with VoC Data

Addressing the challenge of empowered buyers requires you to both listen to customer feedback and also adapt to their evolving needs. Listening to customers and adapting to their needs aren’t new concepts—but the way we execute them is vastly different than in the past.

CEM leaders have a wealth of channels available to them to capture VoC data effectively. According to our recent survey, the following are 5 of the most popular channels used to capture VoC data:

  • Online surveys (69% of respondents)
  • In-person surveys (58% of respondents)
  • Social media (42% of respondents)
  • Feedback/complaint forms on the company website (39% of respondents)
  • Dedicated email inboxes (33% of respondents)

These are just a few of the many ways you can capture the VoC data necessary to meet (and exceed) customer expectations. The key is to use your existing customer data to determine which channels will be most effective for communicating with empowered buyers. At the same time, VoC programs aren’t necessarily all about the customer.

In addition to communicating with customers effectively, you must also ensure employees have clear and timely visibility into VoC data. Simply capturing VoC data and failing to use it to influence customer conversations is a short road to customer experience failure.

Human Interaction Can’t Be Replaced in Customer Experience Management

With so much technology available to us, it’s easy to just throw a new solution at a problem for a quick fix. However, customer experience challenges are too complex for technology to solve them alone. The world’s customer experience leaders understand that they must also focus on people (their employees) to improve the results of VoC programs.

Best-in-Class organizations know that they have to provide clear and timely VoC data to employees—our research found that there are three key methods for doing so:

  • Share customer feedback through role-based reporting: Best-in-Class organizations are 42% more likely to do this than other companies.
  • Distinguish most profitable customers: Best-in-Class firms are 21% more likely to do this than All Others.
  • Provide service/sales staff with mobile access to VoC data: Most companies recognize the importance of mobile data availability, but Best-in-Class organizations are still 10% more likely to apply it to VoC data than All Others.

The bottom line is that if you capture customer feedback data through, for example, a customer-generated Facebook post and you fail to use it to influence the buyer journey, that data is of minimal value.

Competing based on customer experience is all about capturing the right VoC data and having a program in place that properly leverages it to influence the buyer journey. If you want to learn more about how Best-in-Class organizations are succeeding in this manner, download our free research report, Voice of the Customer: How to Compete on Customer Experience in 2016 (and Beyond).

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