Continuous Improvement: Adding the customer’s voice

No brand can afford to stand still. There are always new challenges to meet, and better ways of doing things.

Every change you need to make should be planned and implemented with care, otherwise it could end up doing more harm than good.  When it comes to improving the way you work, it’s easy to overlook the impact that customers can have. Here’s how the customer’s voice can feed into your Continuous Improvement cycle. 


Find opportunities in your processes/procedures/workflow etc for improvement 

 You might have a good grasp on what processes or functions are in need of a tweak, but what do customers think needs improving? They are paying for everyone’s salary after all. Typically, the only time we think about the needs of customers is through the lens of customer service. This might identify specific concerns, but it can be difficult unpack that to more strategic goals. Instead of correlating complaints to try an unearth common themes, organisations should instead look at the values that bring customers into their category to begin with. What are the core reasons customers come to you, what are their expectations, and can you identify areas for improvement based on these core virtues? 


How can the current process be improved? 

Whilst new technologies have enabled an easier mapping of processes, that is only really one part of the improvement puzzle. We all know that staff are resistant to changing the way they work and need to be sold on the idea. The question of “What’s in this for me?” is critical, but so too is the ultimate benefit to the customer. Everyone understands that happier customers are tied to higher profits and its key to reiterate this to stakeholders at the planning stage. 

Another way in which to incorporate the customer’s voice during the planning stage is as a vital source of feedback. Initial research may only give you the headlines, where having a 2-way dialogue with customers allows you to follow up for details. You might uncover, for example, that customers want support via a live chat function on your website, but could then ask them about hours of operation, human vs help bot etc 

"By enabling that two-way conversation with customers, you can dig deeper over a prolonged period of time to see what should be on your improvement agenda and what might be a passing trend." Stuart Jones, Head of Community Management


Implement the change 

In a perfect world, good planning would lead to smooth execution. In the real world…this doesn’t always happen! Customers may not be involved in the actual implementation of change but their feedback can be crucial throughout. If it turns out that a project will take twice as long and cost twice as much, it may be worth going back to your research, understanding how much of a priority this really is and the expected impact. Too many projects are completed purely on the basis of “we’ve come this far, we may as well finish.” If you understand both the business impact and the customer gain from your project, it becomes a lot easier to justify carrying on or not. 



Evaluate the impact of the change, get feedback 

Once the change is implemented, the customer voice can provide feedback and reassurance which will ensure that the change sticks. Try and capture positive customer feedback and deliver this to your team so they can feel appreciated for their work.  

The improvement cycle is never over, as processes and procedures mature there will always be scope for advancement. It is still true today that the majority of continuous improvement projects are undertaken with cost savings in mind but by embracing the voice of the customer throughout this process you can ensure that improvement is centred around value creation as well. 

Incorporating the voice of the customer is difficult if you don’t have the right setup. How can you tap into the voice of your customer without the right tools? Why not arrange a meeting today to see how we can help Researchbods understand your customer better. 

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