The Voice of the Customer in the Digital Age

The digital explosion of touchpoints like mobile handhelds and tablets, as well as communication channels like social media, review sites, and blogs have created new opportunities for companies that want to improve their business with VoC tactics.

Here are three brands using VoC techniques to build and maintain customer engagement.

ModCloth’s community dresses up its inventory

Marketers often use VoC to determine the types of products and innovations that would most appeal to customers. But ModCloth, an online retailer of vintage-style clothing, takes this concept to a level beyond most of its peers. From the business’s inception, ModCloth has actively involved its customers in the dresses and shoes it stocks via its “be the Buyer” program, through which website visitors can “pick” or “skip” various items still in the design stage and leave comments detailing their thoughts. Through this, customers help determine what sort of items ModCloth stocks.

“It’s our primary goal to democratize fashion in the sense that we’re not the company that wants to dictate what’s cool or the top trend for a season,” says ModCloth’s Director of Retention Marketing Megan Walsh. “Instead we hand that power of curation to our customers and they tell us what they’re interested in and what they want to see. The goal is to turn the reins over to the community itself.”

Blinds.com’s VoC lets in the light on customer concerns

Of course, not every e-tailer has ModCloth’s avid fan following. Window fittings, for instance, don’t elicit the same fervor as fashion. Yet, Blinds.com still makes it a point to keep customers engaged and uses VoC techniques to continuously improve its business practices.

Forty percent of its website visitors get a survey powered by iPerceptions asking what the company could do to make the shopping experience better. Blinds.com is also mindful of other avenues to solicit feedback: “Now that we’re living in this social age, we look for feedback through product reviews and especially through social media,” says Katie Laird, Blinds.com’s PR and social media manager.

This aggregated feedback gets shared throughout the entire company, meaning the company can quickly understand customer pain points and move swiftly to alleviate them. For instance, through its VoC efforts the company learned that many prospects are fearful of buying a complicated product like window fittings online. As a result, it developed tutorial videos, and now offers guarantees and provides easy-measurement tools to alleviate those concerns.

“We collect everything.” Laird says. “We take it all and look at themes and trends and run with it.”

PlayFirst places responsiveness first

Like Blinds.com, mobile game developer PlayFirst Inc. knows that responding to customers is just as important as listening to them. PlayFirst has active Facebook and Twitter pages, and it also uses tools from Parature to provide customer support for the various technical and play-related issues (e.g., “How do I progress to the next level?”) that all game developers face. Of course, PlayFirst is bombarded by queries in multiple channels, which is why its community manager, Chris Newman, makes a point of monitoring and responding in each of those channels.

“To have a healthy community, you need to be active on all your different outlets,” Newman says, who set a window of no more than 48 hours for responding to customers. “If you have a Facebook page, you need to be active on your Facebook page.”

Another key element is making each response personal, for instance, by addressing the customer by name. “That’s my number one thing,” Newman explains. “Don’t answer like a robot. When I feel people are going to help me, I’m more responsive. You get the issues fixed faster and everybody wins.”

Newman gauges the success of the program through follow-up replies with the PlayFirst community. “Their reactions and continued support for our company [and] products is the ultimate ‘metric’ on how we’re doing.”

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