Engagement by the CEO with a customer programme is as important as the customer engagement process itself, according to new research among customer experience professionals by Qualtrics, leaders in software enabled consumer insight.

Research was conducted among 100 senior customer experience professionals in the UK hospitality, retail, manufacturing, healthcare, energy, construction, utilities and food manufacture sectors. 83% of respondents ranked ‘leadership engagement and support’ as equally important to ‘actively listening to customers’ – but 53% said leadership indifference and lack of ‘buy in’ is the most common reason for a voice of the customer programme’s failure.

This lack of leadership involvement comes despite growing research that highlights the impact of customer engagement on the bottom line.  Forrester*, for instance, found that among companies in the US S&P 500 stock market, those that were ‘customer centric’ outperformed those that were not by 77%.

Ian McVey, Qualtrics’ UK manager says;  “Insight professionals know that customer problems are company opportunities. Those working at the coalface want a more scientific approach to customer engagement, for management to acknowledge and engage the customer. The time is right, because the technology with which to do so has never been so powerful or easy to apply”.

In their feedback, which was anonymysed, one respondent said; “Feedback is monitored monthly and all managers have open access to the data. Information goes right to the very top. All responses are fully captured in an untweaked, un-edited manner. What customers have said in black and white is read by us in black and white too”.

Another said the success of her programme was entirely down to the involvement of the CEO; “Our managers have to ring ‘detractors’ personally to find out why they’ve had a poor experience, and find out how we can do better”.

Research also found that;

70% of respondents cite ‘reporting customer metrics continuously’ to be key – but 52% also blamed a ‘lack of customer metrics reporting’ for the failure of a customer programme

  • Voice of the Customer programmes are still in their infancy. Even those companies with sophisticated programmes have yet fully to join up senior management and professionals working at the customer coalface.  Only 8% of organisations polled have had a formal VoC programme in place for longer than 10 years. Half are responsible for projects that have been running for only 1-2 years, while a further 19% reported that their programmes have been operational for less than a year
  • Respondents reported using a range of different metrics to indicate VoC success, including customer satisfaction, customer retention rate, Net Promoter Score, revenue and profitability
  • While VOC is a fast growing discipline and a significant number of programmes are still fairly immature, those responsible for VoC are becoming ever more rigorous, professional and experienced in their discipline, deploying a variety of reporting and measurement tools to report high levels of success
  • *Forester International – S&P ‘Leaders and Lagards’.
  • Research Methodology – conducted the research in late summer 2015 among respondents in organisations of different sizes based in the UK and Ireland.

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