Running an effective Voice of the Customer program (VoC) is crucial to your ability to measure and improve customer experience. Seeking customer feedback is the first step. While you can do this via online surveys, it is always best if you can meet people in person, with video interviews the next best thing – to better capture attention, trust and emotions expressed through body language and facial expressions, and more.
Understanding where people come from in terms of beliefs, values, attitudes and social norms can determine the success of the interview, especially when you serve customers in different parts of the world.
Here are a few of my personal tips to help put customer meetings on the right track:
Arriving ‘on time’ can have different meanings
Time keeping might be considered an obvious thing, but not necessarily. In some countries, if your counterpart joins a call 5 minutes after the allotted time, they are still correct and proper, as it’s custom in their parts to always take the first 5 minutes to gather oneself after the end of the previous meeting. In other countries time is considered outside of our control and demands of relationships take precedence over adhering to strict schedules. Best to not to appear impatient if you are kept waiting.
Tip: Ahead of a meeting, take a few minutes to read about your customer’s culture to better understand how they think and behave.
Breaking the ice
Breaking the ice with casual small talk is also very important. In some countries it is even thought to be brusque and blunt to skip it. But how informal or personal can you be? In some cases, you may only speak to someone once a year, so it is an opportunity to ask them how their year has been or if you can recall something from your previous time together then that is what you should bring up. Being able to mention a personal detail that you remember can really help warm up a conversation and get it going on the right foot. But always be aware that someone may have a very busy schedule and would prefer to just get down to business. It is important to ‘read the signs’ in real time as much as anything else.
Tip: In your recap notes from customer meetings, include personal and esoteric stuff that came up which you might want to ask your customer about next time you speak.
Small things can make a big difference
I recall a serious conversation I was having with a very senior stakeholder at one of our customers. It was during lockdown, and I had forgotten to close the door of my home office. My 4-year-old daughter causally walked in and sat on my lap and waved to the man on the screen. I was expecting the worst but before I knew it, the two of them were chatting away like they were best friends. After that, he just opened up and the meeting couldn’t have gone better. The smallest things, whatever they are, can make a huge difference in creating the chemistry of a good conversation and relationship.
Tip: Never forget, the customer is a real person, like you. You most definitely have a lot in common, just a matter of finding out what exactly.
Ending the interview the ‘fellow fan’ way
It is always a good idea to note what is happening in the background of where you are conducting the meeting, physical or virtual. Look for something personal with which you can connect to. Perhaps the customer has a pendant from a favorite sports team, or a picture of them taking part in an activity that you also enjoy.
With video conference calls becoming more prevalent, the variety of sci-fi background pictures I have seen is incredible: Star Wars, Star Trek and even some more obscure ones like Babylon 5! I have lost count of the times I have ended a call with ‘live long and prosper’ or ‘may the force be with you’! But you can be sure that your customer will appreciate a fellow fan.
Tip: Find that common interest that connects you and your customer and end the meeting on a personal note. The customer will surely remember you the next time you speak!
The Amdocs Voice of the Customer is a comprehensive program for measuring and improving our customers’ experience across all aspects of their engagement with us: people, products, processes, services, value, quality, ease of doing business, strategic alignment and more. It’s one of the key programs run by the Customer Centricity team at Amdocs in support of our customers’ journeys throughout their engagement with us.