When we design and roll-out various aspects of “voice-of-the-customer” (VoC) programs with our B2B clients, one of the first questions we tend to ask is, “How do you refer to the program both internally and with customers – is there a name for it?” We ask this because the name of program provides insight into how the organization is thinking about feedback. It primes employees to understand the role of the initiative and sets expectations with customers at the same time.
The response to our question is often something like, “We refer to it as our Net Promoter process.” This answer indicates the company is in the early stages of the process, and we often coach teams on branding a program to convey value and intent.
So here are some ideas for how you might think about this step and why the name matters.
Referring to the effort as VoC, Customer Feedback, NPS, Net Promoter (or other “metric”)
These types of names signal that the effort is all about gathering data… not that there’s anything wrong with that! But it’s so much more than that — gathering feedback and taking action is a journey.
Knowing the current strength of customer relationships drives strategy so metrics can be a reasonable place to start: establish a baseline and understand what lies ahead.
But I find it hard to believe that organizations invest in a customer feedback process only to measure. There is a reason for the measurement — presumably to drive optimal actions for improvement (e.g. per this photo, clearing the “roads” for a smooth path, not just knowing how many roads aren’t clear).
If improvement is the real objective make this explicit. Don’t leave your audience wondering why they should be involved.
We’ve also found that there are serious consequences with a “measurement” approach – treating your customers like research projects can easily drive attrition on its own.
Referring to the effort as “Customer Experience,” Listening, Customer Journey, etc.
With a name like this, you’re exploring the customer journey, going from measurement and more focused on action.
You’ll be enabling employees to move beyond merely identifying broken customer processes to actually improve their journey. You aim to provide the best possible roads on which your customers will travel.
But where is that road going? Your customer knows… do you? Programs of this nature tend to be reactive – again, not that there’s anything totally wrong with that! But they rely on the customer to do the driving.
Most B2B sales occur because there is a specific business challenge to overcome. So the question is, what role do you want to play in helping customers overcome those challenges? That is, most B2B firms are really in the business of enabling outcomes for their customers. Much of the B2B world isn’t defined by the product; the relationship is defined by the result.
This leads to…
Referring to the effort as “Customer Success,” Customer Intimacy, Relationship Strengthening, etc.
The key question is, what business are you really in: products or outcomes? To what extent does your firm want to proactively help your customers solve their business challenges?
If the answer is pointing you toward delivering results — not only products — for customers (or segments of your customers), then a name of this nature is in order. But keep in mind that “customer success” requires a higher level of commitment. Let’s be clear that this “customer feedback” world is not one-size-fits-all.
If your company strategy is to help customers solve business problems, provide high ROI, and enable you to charge a price premium, then you’ll probably have to do more than just deliver products smoothly. “Customer Success” implies a philosophy where accounts accomplish goals and feel on top of the world.
Realistically, your company generally can’t invest in the same way with all customers. Some areas of the business might be more strategic and warrant a more intimate relationship. But your company can – and should – be transparent about what customers can expect with regards to participating in feedback efforts to solve their challenges. Is it an “experience” that you aim to deliver, or “success”?
I’ve not included a category for “Customer Loyalty.” Unfortunately, we’ve found that names in this realm have a few issues:
- We’re all bombarded every day with “loyalty” programs. For better or for worse (ok, mostly for worse, as research shows), such programs have polluted “loyalty.”
- “Loyalty” isn’t something you can control – it’s in the hands of your customers. In other words, loyalty is your outcome, not theirs. If you’re seeking loyalty then emphasize what you / your company will do… what’s in it for your customers?
Suffice it to say, program names are important. We advise deliberate consideration to ensure the name conveys the intended meaning to others (especially to your customers).
Does your program name align with this strategy?