Category Archives: Voice of Customer

Representing Customers through Customer Advocacy Boards

Maximizing the Power of Customer FeedbackMake a C.A.B.

Ever thought about creating a Customer Advocacy Board (CAB) at your company? A CAB is an internal board, made of employees who are passionate about customers. They gather customer insights and collectively have authority to invoke positive change. It’s a great way to initiate your company’s journey to become more customer-focused.

This isn’t a committee – it’s a Board.

It’s a powerful idea. As a Board, it’s enabled to take action. Your board members can act as a major driving force during customer experience improvements across silos in your company. They should have the authority to advocate in any situation and without repercussion.

Because of this, your Customer Advocacy Board can be one of your most politically persuasive tools in your arsenal. Their mission – to collect feedback, wear the hat of your customer, take the customer seat in meetings and when making decisions, and invoke change.

Playing politics

Your Customer Advocacy Board will need significant political weight to be successful. You’ll want to ensure that their efforts are as trouble-free and uncomplicated as possible. Make sure the right executive is the “owner” of this team in order to remove any roadblocks.

Once you gather the right team, kick off the first meeting by having your President or CEO introduce the Board’s importance to your company’s strategy. This team’s duties won’t stop at the monthly meetings. These passionate individuals will be encouraged to identify critical issues (opportunities) when, and as, they come up. To double their effectiveness, make it a hard-fast rule that an Advocate is present to represent your customers in all
project meetings.

Employee involvement

It’s not a win if your entire organization isn’t involved. The CAB can also serve up some employee engagement activities and company-wide programs. They can host customer-focused workshops and training, and bring in outside facilitators and speakers. A creative CAB can come up with all sorts of fun ideas for your employees, to help them understand and connect with your customers.

No gain without pain?

Representing your customer isn’t an easy job. It’s not for the faint of heart. There will be times that members feel discouraged. Often, they’ll have to trade in their “soft, fuzzy customer hat” for a “hard hat”, but that pain will be worth it the gain for your company!

Happy R.A.V.I.N.G. Customers!

Learn more about becoming a customer-focused organization in my book, Happy R.A.V.I.N.G. Customers!

Buy it now on Amazon
RavingCX readers SAVE 10% at– enter discount code: CG83XLJ6


Do You Feel Alone in Advocating for Your Customer?

Carol Buehrens - Reserved forCustomers

Do you ever feel like you’re the only one at your company who empathizes for,  or even thinks about your customer? If your company hasn’t developed a customer-centric employee culture, maybe you are. Below is a case in point…

I met with a project team to discuss a new retail system for their company website. Their current system was simple, easy to use, and they had received good feedback from the customers who used it. However, it was not fully integrated with their processes and they planned to replace it with a new system that would improve their internal workflow.

My job was to provide the project team with the results of customer testing of this new system. Sadly, I had to deliver some tough news. During the tests, the new system failed on several points. These points ranged from inconsistent and confusing labeling, redundant steps, an unreliable search routine, to an unusually high occurrence of errors that could halt the checkout process. From customer’s viewpoint, this was a tough system to use!

I thought my report would come as a complete surprise. However, the shock was mine when the business stakeholders (the team who benefited from the automation of the new system), said they already knew about these issues! They had decided to continue with the rollout in spite of the poor experience the system provided. They insisted that it was a “wonderful system”. They felt, in fact, that the concerns I identified were “out-of-scope” for the roll-out.

The customer is out-of scope?

From their viewpoint, the new system was “good enough” to roll out and customers would “be happy” using it simply because the internal stakeholders would have a better process. We were at an impasse – and I stood alone in representing the customer. I had entered this meeting wearing my soft, fuzzy customer hat, advocating for beloved customers. I soon found that I had to exchange this hat for a helmet, because I was hitting my head against a brick wall!

A few items for thought –

  • Customers don’t know about your internal processes.
  • Customers don’t care about your internal processes.
  • Customer shouldn’t have to know or care about your internal processes.
  • Customers do care that it’s easy to do business with you.

If you think this situation is rare, think again. When an organization’s culture is NOT putting their customers first, NOT focusing on their customers, NOT trying to make their customers successful, then this same scenario happens over and over again. This may be happening in project meetings throughout your own company.

When the culture of an organization isn’t centered on their customers, decisions are not made on their behalf. Poor decisions in customer experience cut into your bottom line, in more ways than one. It all starts with the heart of your company – your people.

From the book, Happy R.A.V.I.N.G. Customers! Six Powerful Steps to Grow Your Business with Exceptional Customer Experience, by Carol Buehrens.

Images created by Carol Buehrens

Your First VoC Program is Easier to Start Than You Think

Carol Buehrens Voice of Customers - Happy RAVING Customers!

Successful customer experience companies listen to their customers. They listen continuously. They make certain to “bring the voice” of the customer inside, so that it becomes a part of their organization. By hearing this feedback, employees learn and understand their customers’ needs, wants and changing expectations. Take a cue from these successful companies – listen to your customers!

If I had a nickel for every time I’ve attended project meetings and heard someone defend a poor decision by simply stating, “This is what the (internal stakeholder) wants,” I would be quite rich by now. Clearly, this isn’t listening to your customer! To develop raving customers, you need to (and need to want to) hear what they are saying and LISTEN.

The most successful customer experience companies have made listening to customers an art form. They’ve set up their own “listening posts” as part of their “Voice of the Customer” (VoC) efforts, and so can you!

No excuses – start small

Start with small VOC programs and grow in areas that are the most successful for your own company. Listening from the “inside” is often the first starting point.  Sometimes you don’t have to go far to find out you have everything you need to start your efforts at your fingertips!

Check with your front-line employees. They often know exactly what your customers are saying; they hear it every day. The problem is that, quite often, there’s not an easy way for these employees to act as advocates for your customers.

Give these front-line employees a voice. Don’t miss out on this golden opportunity to collect this information! It’s easily attainable and available immediately. This will allow you to start your program and grow on your small successes.

Image provided with permission by Microsoft

Maximizing the Power of Customer Feedback

Maximizing the Power of Customer Feedback
(From the book, Happy R.A.V.I.N.G. Customers!)

Successful customer experience companies listen to their customers. They work to ingrain the voice of the customer throughout the organization. They know that, be it a complaint or suggestion, it is a wonderful customer indeed who invests their own time to improve your organization.

You’ll want to grow your staff’s appreciation of all customer feedback. Think of every comment that you receive as a present!

After all, this is priceless information.


10 Ideas to maximize feedback

  1. Integrate all data across all channels. Combine data to get a holistic view of customer feedback from multiple sources,in order to understand the full impact on your brand.
  2. Identify what you want to know. This will help you develop your research methods and collection strategies based on your desired outcome.
  3. Focus on your target group. Concentrate your beginning efforts on the customers that matter most to your business and will provide you the highest return on your investment.
  4. Watch for trends. As you collect structured and unstructured feedback, look for ways to organize both that allow you to cross compare and uncover trends. This will help you prioritize your efforts.
  5. Utilize live feedback methods. Employ an online monitoring system that allows you to be alerted during failed transactions. For example, a customer aborts a process and a support representatives immediately reaches out to the customer to learn and help with the problem.
  6. Distribute good and bad feedback internally. Make sure that all of your employees know what your customers are saying, not just one or two departments or stakeholders. The best customer experience improvements will come from all employees actively listening and the resulting operational teamwork across your organization.
  7. Host feedback sessions. Hold workshops to discuss the latest feedback. Gather employees into teams and task them to brainstorm improvement ideas. Be sure to include the good feedback too – this provides insight into what customers like.
  8. Employ a personal follow-up program. Close the loop with customers whenever possible. Ask their perspectives on the issues. Let them know that you’re committed to partnering with them to resolve problems they’re experiencing.
  9. Engage customers in real conversations. Don’t “marketize” your conversation – keep it real and honest. Say you’re sorry when appropriate and mean it. Then show customers you are willing to do something to rectify the situation – and fix it.
  10. Assign “Client Insight Managers”. When negative feedback is collected, assign an employee to the customer, so there is one point of contact. Give them the authority to focus on and correct the problem. This individual acts as the liaison for the customer and follows the case to a successful completion. Allow them to go “above and beyond” whenever possible.

Happy R.A.V.I.N.G. Customers!

In my new book, Happy R.A.V.I.N.G. Customers!, “Chapter 8. G =  Get Feedback” focuses on ideas and strategies to incorporate listening techniques, management of customer feedback, and techniques to empower employees to take action.

Buy it now on Amazon


Image provided with permission by Microsoft