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Last year I gave a presentation titled, “Top 3 VOC Best Practices.” I started off the presentation by asking the audience to give me some of their best practices – and then I moved into my top three: communication, communication, and communication!

It’s probably not what most people expected when they saw my presentation listed on the event agenda, but I think they left the session understanding why communication is mission critical to the VOC efforts from a variety of angles.

Communication is an extremely important part of creating a customer-centric culture, as it opens the door to an open and honest relationship with all stakeholders (executives, employees, customers, etc.), begets trust, drives understanding and accountability, promotes participation, establishes a foundation for meaningful change, and leads to a successful outcome. In short, communication breeds commitment.

In your VOC efforts, communication has five broad objectives. Different objectives may apply to different audiences.

  1. Instruction: Share information or teach stakeholders about the initiative, its purpose, the feedback, the insights, the service recovery workflow, process changes, etc.
  2. Motivation: Inspire or motivate your audience to do something or to act in a certain way, whether that’s inspiring your employees to create a customer-driven environment or motivating your customers to stick with you, try your next product, etc.
  3. Adoption: Convince your audience or get buy-in, e.g., executive or frontline buy-in. Align the audience with the mission.
  4. Discussion: Drive open and candid discussions with your employees, customers, and other stakeholders; close the loop. Encourage employees to share their ideas and concerns.
  5. Expectation: Most importantly, set expectations.  Recall that Performance – Expectations = Satisfaction. This applies both to employees and to customers.

How do we ensure that communication around the VOC initiative is delivered in a timely manner and that nothing falls through the cracks?  Well, you know the old saying:

Fail to plan… plan to fail!

The solution: a Communication Plan.  I’ve used these with clients over the years, and they are a great way to outline the various communication needs for your VOC initiative. The graphic below shows just one example of a layout for your plan, but you can modify it to meet your needs.

What’s more important is the content. I’ll devote my next blog post to the various (content) needs, but I’ll wrap up this post with the following. Use the Communication Plan to:

  • Identify the various types of communications required for the initiative
  • Outline the who, what, when, why, and how
  • Identify stakeholders
  • Drive accountability
  • Secure buy-in from people and for systems needed for success
  • Demonstrate that this is a very real initiative
  • Provide a roadmap
  • Set priorities
  • Avoid pitfalls
You can have brilliant ideas, but if you can’t get them across, your ideas won’t get you anywhere. -Lee Iacocca