VWR International Building Impressive Voice of the Customer Program

Matt Wroblewski, Director of Market Research, VWR International – a global laboratory supplies and distribution company – said during the Aug. 6 Loyalty 360 webinar, “Building a Holistic Voice of the Customer Program,” that his company didn’t have any formal customer feedback structure four years ago, but by the middle of 2010, “we wanted to hear what customers had to say.”

Wroblewski said VWR International started off with an annual customer survey, which led to the integration of multiple customer touch points including Customer Service, Technical Support, and web. The company learned how to manage the customer experience, measure performance, and make improvements using the Net Promoter Score (NPS) culture and processes to create value.

Providing a Voice of the Customer platform – through the assistance of Verint’s VOC Analytics platform – helps the customer’s perception of the company, Wroblewski said.

“In 2011 and 2012, we really put in place all the elements for a pretty holistic program where we’ve gone from 0 to 60mph in less than two years,” he explained. “The biggest transformation for us has been we’ve gone from a strong B2B focus to a more B2C type of focus. As we started to listen to customers, we realized there are more B2C dynamics to our business. In the VOC journey, you can come pretty far, pretty fast.”

VWR International has 5,000 suppliers globally, 1.5 million SKUs, 60,000 customer accounts, and 8,000 associates in more than 30 countries. The company generates about $4 billion in annual revenue.

“You have to have champions in the organization who want to hear what customers say so you can improve,” Wroblewski said. “What we’ve found is it grows organically.”

He said VWR International uses three metrics components: Supplier NPS, Associate NPS, and Customer NPS.

“It drives improvements in the customer experience through customer intimacy,” Wroblewski said. “We have quarterly segment surveys, annual competitive position surveys, along with ongoing touch point surveys feedback with specific customer responses.”

Using NPS helps define a company’s VOC culture, Wroblewski explained, and offers a strategic direction through key terms such as measure, value, prioritize, close the loop, engage, act, frontline activation, support with robust infrastructure, and to lead and communicate effectively.

“The overall system and set of processes is the most important part of the program,” he said. “Whether you use NPS or your own loyalty index, numbers are important, but it’s really the internalization of the information you’re getting back from customers that’s the most important part. Whatever you use as a measurement structure, just pick something and stick with it. You’ll be able to capture changes in perception from customers.”

Understanding customer interactions is a crucial piece of VWR International’s VOC program, whereby a customer provides feedback, an alert is issued to a team leader for service recovery, team leaders follow up with customer for corrective action, there is a root cause analysis on issues, and process improvements in training.

“This all leads to ongoing analysis and reporting where we celebrate success stories, recognize excellent service, and establish future customer experience performance goals,” Wroblewski said.

With Verint’s tools, all customer calls are recorded, Wroblewski said.

“We get information back and look to see what customer are telling us, what are we doing well and not so well, and areas where we need to improve,” Wroblewski explained. “We’re looking to see if there are changes in their preferences for VWR or their share of wallet. Once we do these quarterly surveys, we really have that shared perspective and cross-functional view. We always ask why a customer gave us a particular rating.”

Re-engaging customers stands as one of the critical components of the whole process, Wroblewski said.

“It’s really the actual comments that are the true voice of what customers truly have to say that have the most impact on the organization,” he said.

Wroblewski said VWR International has seen a 26% increase in NPS since the first quarter of 2012. He offered some advice for any company considering a VOC program: Use any loyalty index metric, but always ask why; close the loop internally and externally; share broadly within the company; measure what’s relevant and meaningful to the customer experience and make it actionable for management; and leverage internal data.

“It’s really a journey because we’re always learning from our customers,” he said. “It’s important that everyone is working toward the same goals. When we get great feedback from our customers, we can use that for training and development and it helps build that culture of meeting the outcome that customers expect from us.”

It’s all about customer respect, Wroblewski added.

“Start small and let it grow organically,” he said. “It’s been a successful model for us and it’s changed our understanding of these interactions.”

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