By Alan J. Porter, Director of Strategic Services at [A]


Many years ago, when I ran the support organization for a small software company, we had a white board on the wall opposite the area of the office where my team sat. Everyone walking to the break room could see it. It showed the number of customer calls or emails we had each week, how many support tickets were still open, and how many we had resolved. Above it sat another sign that simply said, “We are not a black hole.”

While the figures were what we reported to the CEO, it was the simpler informal sign that became our mantra.

Let’s face it—no one likes being ignored, yet more often than not it is the standard operating procedure of many support organizations. Even if it isn’t intentional, that’s often the way it appears to the customer.

It used to be fairly easy to monitor and listen to your customers; they either called, emailed, or even wrote an actual letter (remember those?) with any issues they had. There was really no excuse for being a “black hole.” Today, it is much more complex. There is an overwhelming number of channels that customers can use to communicate with you, and while you may be able to monitor most of them, it is almost impossible to capture them all; like the example I came across of a disgruntled customer painting his complaints on the side of his van (https://thecontentpool.wordpress.com/2017/10/16/so-what-exactly-is-omnichannel/).
 

In my experience, there are four ways ways that companies tend to respond to the voice of the customer:

  • Ignore it. 
  • Capture it, and then do nothing.
  • Acknowledge there is a problem, but don’t take any action.
  • Acknowledge the problem and provide a solution.


The type of response tends to be a reflection of when and where within the organization the customer data is received and handled. A few months ago, I wrote here on CMS Wire about how the customer input should be treated as a single unified data set (https://www.cmswire.com/customer-experience/is-your-voice-of-the-customer-program-all-talk-and-no-action/).

So how do you go about using that data set to deliver on what the customer needs? The first rule of thumb goes back to not being a “black hole,” and acknowledging that the customer has an issue. Do that and you’ll be way ahead of most companies. However, while empathy is all well and good, it’s actions that are appreciated more.
 

So how do you provide the fix?

Give your customer-facing teams access to intelligent content. Content is an expression of everything a company does, and it needs to be valued as an asset across a company. To solve customer issues and provide positive actionable feedback, you need to be able to tap into that pool of content in efficient ways that allow the right pieces of knowledge to be pulled together to provide personalized responses. That content can come from knowledge bases, technical documentation, support articles, operating schedules, customer profiles, and machine learning chatbots; match that with current marketing campaigns and offers and you can pull together positive customer experiences that help solve problems, further engage, and continue to build the customer’s brand engagement.

It once again comes down to taking a holistic strategic view, this time in regards to your content. Look at not only what it was created for, but where else it can be used, and where it can provide answers to customers’ questions. The content needs to be structured, modeled, understood from a semantic customer viewpoint and have the right common taxonomies and metadata applied. It’s not a quick or easy task, but it's one that increases efficiency, leverages your content assets, and allows you to respond to the voice of the customer in the best possible way.

[A] Editor’s Note:
Links in above content are original to this post, and did not appear in the original instance of this article initially published at CMS Wire on February 1, 2018.

 

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