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Make All Your Customer Data Sources “Work Together”

Voice of the Customer (VoC) integration is a process designed to blend data from surveys, inbound customer communications, social media, and other sources so that managers can develop a comprehensive perspective of the total customer experience.   It is a process intended to make all VoC data sources “work together” to furnish insights that could not be derived from any single source alone.

Results of the Voice of the Customer Challenges and Practices Survey, recently conducted by MaritzCX, indicate that:

  • A majority of organizations (62%) rely on 4 to 7 customer experience data sources, and
  • The most commonly used data sources are:
    • Transactional surveys
    • Relationship surveys
    • Inbound customer calls
    • Focus groups
    • Benchmarking surveys
    • Customer emails and letters
    • Social media

However, our research also reveals that only 32% these organizations have developed an effective method of integrating all of their VoC data sources.  Furthermore, among managers who believe they have figured out how to do it, descriptions of VoC integration vary considerably.

We asked managers to describe “the process your company uses to integrate customer survey data with other Voice of the Customer data.”

To some, VoC Integration appears to be a matter of simply considering all customer experience data sources when making decisions and establishing plans/priorities.  Managers who fall into this camp offer these descriptions:

“Surveys, focus groups, comment forms, etc. all are considered when developing products and future plans.”

“We look at survey data along with social media to obtain an overall picture of how the company is meeting customer expectations.”

Others believe that VoC Integration is synonymous with building a dashboard in which all customer data sources can be accessed and displayed.  As one manager put it:

“Our Integrated Dashboard pulls data from our loyalty program, surveys, call center feedback, and social media into one, easy to access tool.”

A third group embraces a perspective of VoC Integration very similar to the one I’ve described in a previous blog:

“We use a common taxonomy to code data from all channels.”

“We re-categorize verbatim comments from different sources into common themes, and track the volume of those themes.”

I believe this third group of managers has adopted the most robust of all the approaches described above.  Such an approach to VoC integration consists of three essential steps:

  • Build a comprehensive, uniform set of customer experience elements or categories
  • Use this set of categories to capture and organize all sources of VoC data, whether structured or unstructured
  • Make “apples-to-apples” comparisons among all VoC data sources to draw conclusions and set priorities for action and improvement

The preceding approach to VoC integration enables an organization to build a strong case for targeting specific customer experience elements as action items.  A performance improvement team might hesitate to focus on a particular issue based on just one source of customer feedback alone.  However, if insights gained from several VoC sources all point to the same issue, the team likely will pursue that issue with increased confidence and conviction.   For example, if customer survey feedback, posts from social media, and inbound customer communications all point to “ease of using the company’s website” as a source of customer dissatisfaction, this issue will be difficult to ignore. This is especially true if “ease of using the company’s website” also happens to be a key driver of overall customer satisfaction and loyalty.  As one manager in our study said:

“Application of consistent categories pays dividends in the form of management being ‘convinced’ by quantitative metrics combined with client comments and complaints.”

Another advantage of this approach is that it can be used to assemble all customer comments associated with a specific customer experience element or category.  Then, if that element is targeted as an action item or priority for improvement, managers can “drill down” into the comments for greater detail and increased understanding of what customers want the brand or firm to better or differently.

If your organization has not yet implemented this robust approach to VoC Integration, I strongly recommend doing so.  I’ll talk about how to develop a uniform set of customer experience categories that can be used for VoC Integration in a future blog, so please stay tuned.