The Limits of Voice of Customer Intelligence

During last week’s webinar with Forrester analyst Kerry Bodine, The Customer Cascade: How Customer Feedback Drives Experience Design & Business Outcomes, we discussed the importance of what she calls the “customer cascade,” which goes like this: Companies need to develop deep customer insight in order to design and deliver great customer experiences and ultimately reap the financial rewards that follow. Insight, action, result. It’s a true and beautiful pattern, and it’s been pretty well documented in recent years.

Naturally, the kind of work we do here at Allegiance is a major force in the customer cascade. We help organizations collect customer and employee feedback from across channels and departments, combine it with operational and transactional data, and instantly derive insights from the consolidated pool of information in order to guide little everyday decisions as well as big strategic ones. We call this approach Voice of Customer Intelligence (VoCi).

While valuable on its own, VoCi doesn’t deliver all of the insights companies need across the customer cascade. Tools from the design world like ethnographic research, personas, and customer journey maps also have important parts to play. Despite the historical divide between them, VoCi and these other methods can and should be used in concert. Here’s just one examples of how they can work together to better support a customer experience transformation:

Initiate. During the webinar, Kerry shared a story about a large energy company that discovered serious customer issues through its VoC surveys and unsolicited feedback. Specifically, customers thought the company was lying in its bill estimates and was otherwise just boring. Not good, especially for a company that wanted a more personal, trusting relationship with its customers. VoC initiated a transformation.

Investigate. The company then conducted ethnographic research with a small number of customers to more deeply understand why they felt the way they did. This design thinking approach helped the company understand exactly how customers arrived at their perceptions and what the company could do to change them.

Validate. After radically redesigning the bad experiences they uncovered, the company looked back to VoC and other business data to validate that the changes they made actually changed customers’ perceptions and behaviors. And not just among those customers involved in the ethnographic study but across the entire customer base.

Manage. Knowing that its transformation succeeded, the company can now rely on VoC on an ongoing basis to ensure that it consistently delivers its intended experience and keep identifying improvement opportunities worth investigating.

Again, this is just one example. Different types of insight can work together in a variety of different combinations and sequences, and there’s no one right way to go. What’s most important is that we look beyond our insight comfort zones and capitalize on each tool’s strengths to get the best insight possible to guide our decisions.

Andrew McInnes is Director of Product Marketing for Allegiance.