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The 4 Keys to Voice of the Customer Success: Key #1 – Executive Sponsorship

Developing and launching a Voice of the Customer (VoC) program is no small feat. In fact, it’s a massive undertaking requiring a lot of thought. To do it, you and your team will have to figure out how to help your entire organization adopt and execute fundamental changes to improve the customer experience at every touchpoint, increase return visits, and create active brand advocates. This means investing serious time, money, and people in the right places.

Launching a program doesn’t guarantee much. To ensure you and your program see success, I recommend following the four key elements below:

1. Get full executive sponsorship
2. Go beyond surveys to build an ongoing customer connection
3. Make customer feedback data actionable at the location level
4. Use research and analysis to adapt to evolving program needs

I’ll cover the first key in this article, and the next three will follow in upcoming blog posts. So stay tuned.

Key to Success #1: Get Full Executive Sponsorship

With any organization-wide VoC program rollout, the most important aspect to its success is having committed executive sponsorship behind it. The rollout typically happens at the employee level, and ground-level employee engagement is much more likely when staff can see the excitement and benefit reinforced at the top of the organization.

What Executives Must Do to Effectively Sponsor and Support Your VoC Program

Create the VoC Program Vision

VoC programs have a lot of moving parts, and as the pace of the project speeds up, it’s easy for things to go astray. To keep people and departments synchronized in their efforts, the executive sponsor must clearly and regularly articulate (1) the reasons your organization is implementing the program, (2) what the end state will look like, and (3) the ways success will be defined.
If everyone has the same answers to these three questions, you will be able to more easily resolve inter-team conflicts, enable project activities prioritization, and ensure that everyone is working toward the same objective. If the executive sponsor doesn’t create a shared vision, each person will create their own—leading to program inconsistency and potential for failure.

Be a Vocal and Visible Champion

An executive VoC program sponsor who isn’t regularly seen or heard from is not really a sponsor at all. Sending the occasional email from the office or on the road is simply not enough; your program’s executive sponsor needs to be present for all levels of the organization and be seen as the number one supporter of the initiative.
On top of explaining benefits of the program to employees, your key executive must continuously reminding fellow executives why it is important to dedicate budget and people to the VoC program’s rollout and continued maintenance.

Remove Roadblocks

No matter how well-planned the project or how dedicated the team members, roadblocks will arise. It’s the sponsor’s job to spot and remove the roadblocks the team can’t remove for themselves. This can include freeing up time from an essential subject matter expert, working to resolve issues with a vendor, or helping to ensure the project team has the resources it needs. By removing roadblocks, the sponsor allows the project team to stay focused on their day-to-day project activities and deliver a successful VoC program.

Empower Decision Making

When launching and maintaining your VoC program, every team member should be empowered to make the decisions they regularly face. Enabling frontline decisions to be made at the appropriate employee level frees up time for ascending levels of the organization to focus on their strategic activities. Filtering every decision through the executive sponsor will quickly consume his or her day, cause distraction from supporting the project’s success, and will ultimately create a backlog and slow down the program rollout.

In the end, if your VoC program is supported from the top down and employees can see it, they will embrace it, which is the best insurance against program failure.

Watch for Part 2 in this four-part blog series where I discuss the second key to success: Go beyond surveys to build an ongoing customer connection.

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