Mohan G Joshi, International Business Coach and Former President, SCHOTT Glass India elaborates on unlocking the hitherto untapped potential of a business with customer voice
If you are a theatre or dramatics person, you will know that business is much like drama – with so many characters, all the possible drama and histrionics thrown in; the only thing missing is the script. In this unrehearsed drama, there are no prizes for guessing who the central character is. Who else can it be but the customer of course. Business cannot exist without the customer. The customer is so integral to business! So, while we all focus on winning new
customers, we tend to inadvertently ignore another most
important factor in and for business – the customer’s voice!
What is ‘Customer Voice’?
Customer Voice is a collection of all the good things that the customer says about you, your business, your company, your product, your brand – it is the customer’s experience with all of these. She has expressed this in a formal meeting, or on email or on text or even social media or WhatsApp (in all probability, many times on this channel), on phone or even in a candid F2F (face-2-face) chat. Often, it is not pre-planned and comes
unexpectedly like a cool, blessed shower on an extraordinarily hot, humid afternoon. Other times, it is planned and recorded as a special byte or a video; what is classically referred to as a
‘testimonial’. Sometimes, it is specially requested, other times it comes without asking. In whatever form, this is a voice that
is nothing less than pure gold. It is the key to unlock the hitherto untapped potential of your business. It is the curtain raiser to a new phase in your business, the start of an upward trajectory.
It is important how you ‘play’ this golden Customer Voice. Will you leverage it?
Irrespective of how much we value our Customer’s Voice,
we forget to leverage it. How many of you use this voice in your presentation, whether it is your company presentation in a PowerPoint or a video that you are sharing on email, or presenting on a Mac or in your Keynote Speech? The impact of embedding your Customer’s Voice in your business presentations cannot be adequately emphasised. For a new, first-time prospect, the impact of this voice is tremendous. To the new prospect, the Customer’s Voice is ‘real’, very real. It is credible and honest. It is living proof that your product/or company is worth talking about; worth telling the world about! While there is a semblance of ‘advertising’ in any business presentation by you or your business representative, the Customer’s Voice speaks the truth. If you haven’t already used the Customer’s Voice in your upcoming presentation, it’s never too late!
Customer Voice needs to be specific
The voice that will resonate the most is the voice that talks about ‘specific’ value that the customer has received from your company. It could be talking about one or more of the following or anything equally important:
1) Quality of product that stands out and how the
customer experienced it
2) How it impacted the customer’s performance or of his people
3) Ease of use
4) Speed of response from your company
5) Service team support, friendliness, speed and solutions
6) How it added value other than price
7) Durability of the product
8) What about your company/offering/service the customer prefers over another one he had used earlier
9) Any other specific point of importance
Your voice vs Your Customers’!
Why is Customer Voice important? For once in business, it helps to let someone else win over you – in this case, we are speaking about letting your customer’s voice win over yours. Why? Because, in the short and the long run both, it is going to help YOU more than any other sales tool. A prospect – warm, hot or that one sitting on the fence is going to be watching you and when they see someone else who has bought from you, talking highly about you, they are going to believe that other voice and sit up and take notice. A few of these prospects are then going to jump into the field and act, which could culminate in sales for you. That is why and how Customer Voice is important. In addition, customer voice takes care of all possible concerns, blocks and obstacles during the sales process. It helps the salesperson (you) in offering proof for the claims made by your company, it helps address the very real concerns of the prospect regarding your product/features/ service/ and that too, through the mouth of the actual user – your customer.
Word of mouth (WoM)
Word of mouth travels faster than you can blink; and although positive WoM lags behind negative WoM, it still shoots past any marketing effort. Customer Voice is another word for word of mouth
How to make sure Customer Voice is positive and negate the negative
People do talk and social media it appears has given an unwritten license to people to talk and kill the sellers’ reputation in one big blow. If you have highly unsatisfied customers, you should refrain from using Customer Voice as it will do you more harm than good. Instead, you should focus on eliminating the causes of your customer’s dissatisfaction. Only when the customer has had a good and consistently good experience with you, is the Customer Voice going to be worth your while. So, focus on the positive and ignore the negative.
Customer Voice depends on customer experience
Customers, even if they have had an excellent experience with your company, shy away from speaking out – maybe because of lack of time or a simple bout of forgetfulness. Ask anyone and you will hear the same story – “It is difficult to catch hold of your customer and ask him to say a few good things about you.” The truth is that people shy away, hesitate or simply do not pay heed to or do not think it is important to speak about their good experience. However, they will be the first ones to speak up after one small bad experience. For you to have a Customer Voice, it is very important for you to ensure a good customer experience.
Repeat customers come in if the experience is good
Customer Voice gets in repeat customers especially for products where brand loyalty is at a low. The Customer Voice they hear or read about, helps your former customers recall your brand and their own good experience with it and helps to draw them again to your product.
How can you, as a business, build good Customer Voice?
Knowing your customer, understanding his likes and pet peeves regarding your product/brand/ company, knowing his concerns like the back of your hand and having an excellent sales and support team with a grip on the best sales processes, will help you deliver the best of experiences to your customer. When you mind the gap between what you promise the customer and what you deliver, it will help you build a consistent, long lasting good Customer Voice.
The right of review
In today’s fast-moving life with social media dominating lives, the need to review is like an uncontrollable itch. Everybody who is a somebody or a nobody thinks and practices his right-to-review. These reviews are gold mines for a good Customer Voice. You can mine these reviews, create a bank of good reviews and use this Customer Voice to enhance your sales process.
Influencer marketing – the Customer Voice champion
Influencer marketing is another selling tool which helps to pull in the right prospects to your product/offering. Influencers are people who are somebodies in their fields – which is also the field or sphere in which your company operates. These influencers have large followers who respect these influencers and ‘follow’ their words and what they say. It is like a fan following of an idol/icon. If your company uses these influencers as a tool, typically they will write about your product after having used it, thus creating a ripple effect of Customer Voice. This is called championing a product or company. Influencer marketing is a sunrise field and needs to be further explored for its advantages in selling.
Whatever you call them – customers, followers, fans, champions, these are people you don’t take lightly in business. Because their voice means business!