How to Bring the Voice of the Customer into the Boardroom

Emily James

Pitch It: The Business Case for Customer Salience

As insight experts, we understand the power of insights, their inherent value in key decision-making...


Emily James

    One of the main challenges within the research experience isn’t designing the perfect research process, or collecting the right data from the right sample in order to get the right insights. In fact, the biggest challenge insight professionals have, is getting key decision makers and stakeholders to actually listen to the insights gained from the voice of the customer and allow them to continuously influence important decisions.

    Thankfully, with technological advancements happening at every moment of the day, we can use them and other non-technological techniques to enhance the engagement of board members in order to bring the voice of the customer into the boardroom in their rightful place.

    Involve Board Members in Research Experience

    Voice of the Customer insights can be generated continuously through market research, and one of the best ways to ensure that the voice of the customer reaches and is given due diligence in the boardroom is to involve the board members in the research experience right from the very start. From the moment market research is commissioned, keep them up to date with the researchers involved, the methodologies chosen, and the sample selected at the very least.

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    The biggest challenge insight professionals have, is getting key decision makers to actually listen to the insights gained from the voice of the customer and allow them to continuously influence important decisions.

    Once the research experience has started, set up regular meetings to involve them in the process; this means enabling them to watch and influence the direction of live focus groups, providing them with a copy of the surveys that have been distributed, and going through the reasoning for all of the actions taken throughout the process so they understand exactly what is going on and why.

    Engaging stakeholders and decision makers within the research process means they will have a greater appreciation for the work that needs to be done in order to gain accurate and actionable insights. It also means that they will most likely be more interested in the resulting insights and more likely to take them into account when it counts.

    Sources of Unexpected Insights

    Insights can come from anywhere, including outside of the regular market research channels; so, keeping the customer service and marketing communication channels open and manned is key to bringing the voice of all of a brand’s customers into the board room.

    Social media is a great example of a communications channel which can result in unexpected insights. Social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter make it extremely easy for customers to get in touch with businesses with their complaints, compliments, or even suggestions for improvement, and can spark necessary investigations into the processes and policies of the brand.

    Amazon is one of the more cited examples in this situation, as Jeff Bezos himself opens his email and phone up to complaints from customers and makes sure they are acted upon and get solved in the most appropriate manner. Amazon have a customer-centric culture, which is a great culture to foster within a business and will inevitably lead to more and more of these external insights being generated, and will enable the voice of the customer to take a prominent place within the board room due to the strength and volume of these insights. There is a difference between customer centricity and customer obsession, but both will provide a good level of foundation needed to take customer feedback to heart and act on it.

    However, just because insights are being generated, doesn’t always mean that they will be paid attention to in the board room. These insights need to be presented in an engaging manner in order to grab the attention and stick in the memories of key decision-makers.

    Engaging Insights

    Only a month ago, I wrote an article for GreenBook citing a couple of the ways in which storytelling can be used enhance the impact of research insights and experiences. These storytelling techniques have the impact needed for board members to pay due attention to them. Human stories are the most convincing and powerful, especially when it comes to research insights. However, there are a number of ways in which researchers can present insights to make them as engaging as they possibly can be:

    • Augmented or Virtual Reality Immersive Insights

    Immersive insights could make for a memorable experience. Of course, with VR and AR becoming more commercially available, it is possible to devise a scenario in which board members and stakeholders can visually immerse themselves in the insights gathered from the research experience. For example, if there were any particular recommendations for promotional placement within shops, then the VR or AR experience would allow key decision makers to see what it looked like in order to make a decision. Or else, the regular research reports could be animated and placed within the virtual or augmented reality so stakeholders can immerse themselves in the data in that way.

    • Insights as Art Forms

    Memorable experiences can come in many forms. VR and AR are immersive experiences which can definitely create memorable experiences, but if a company didn’t have the technology to do that, then another immersive experience must be devised outside of technology.

    Experiences such those gained from creating and examining art pieces. Artists have been creating experiences within art for centuries, so why have we dropped the practice just because the research data can come in the form of numbers or words? Art that represents the interpreted insights can be a much cheaper, but still extremely effective way of catching hold of decision makers attention within the board room.

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    Memorable experiences are one important key to giving insights more sway within the boardroom, however, what experiences can researchers create out of insights in order to achieve this?
    • Video excerpts

    Insightful quotes are all well and good, but videos of participant sound bites really bring home the reality that these are real people, not just statistics and data. If artistic representations and immersive insights aren’t feasible, then video insights are the easiest way of bringing the voice of the customers into the boardroom. These videos can be created instead of the typical PowerPoint presentation, and can feature real customers alongside the traditional graphs and charts.

    Continuous Insightful Feedback

    And finally, the last way to bring the voice of the customer into the boardroom that I would like to highlight, is the impact of agile research. Drawing on the section above about involving board members and stakeholders in the research process, enabling them to  provide further input into the decisions made within the research process rather than just at the end of it will increase the agility of the research process right from the very start; this will also work to increase the amount of consideration afforded to the voice of the customer within the board room.

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