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Getting More from the Voice of the Customer

Customers talk and write about their experiences. They will praise and recommend one company while sharing horror stories and admonishing other consumers to stay away from another. Customers often furnish detailed descriptions of what they want, need, like, or dislike about a brand or firm. Whether solicited or unsolicited, the “voice of the customer” (VoC) is there for the taking, and companies are well-advised to listen.   

The good news is that most organizations get this, and regularly conduct surveys, solicit comments and complaints, and scour websites in order to identify opportunities to improve customer experiences and relationships.

The bad news is that, according to the 2014 VoC Challenges and Practices Survey conducted by MaritzCX, more than 75% of Fortune 100 managers say their organizations are falling short when it comes to getting the most from the voice of the customer.

So, what do organizations having successful VoC programs do that the others do not?

I recently had the privilege of presenting a workshop at the 2014 NG Customer Experience Forum in Austin.  In this workshop, I highlighted the challenges that prevent a majority of organizations from getting the most out of their efforts to capture and leverage the voice of the customer. I also attempted to illustrate how organizations having successful VoC programs handle these challenges.

One challenge that holds most companies back is how to build a comprehensive perspective of the total customer experience.  Successful VoC programs typically embrace three methods of addressing this challenge:

  • They use multiple methods of CX listening and learning for each key stage and touch point in the customer journey.
  • They enable managers to access and review all data in a single place, usually via a CX dashboard/platform.
  • They make all of these data sources “work together” through a formal process of VoC Integration.

Another challenge that stymies most organizations is how to integrate the Voice of the Customer into “Big Data” initiatives.  In the workshop, I tried to illustrate how organizations effectively address this challenge by:

  • Mapping hypothesized connections between CX data and other business data – in advance of analysis – through a process known as Customer-Centric Business Blueprinting
  • Using data mining and linkage modeling to “breathe life” into the above blueprint, with an eye toward demonstrating how customer experience actually is linked to business processes and results

Finally, I focused on the most difficult challenge most organizations face – getting managers and employees to take action based on insights and priorities derived from the Voice of the Customer.  Specifically, I shared four practices that enable organizations to use the VoC to drive meaningful action and improvement:

  • For any give action item, all managers and employees who have a hand in shaping what the customer experiences and evaluates are involved in the action planning process.
  • Action planning teams focus on identifying the root causes of poor customer experiences so that they can “fix the right things.”
  • Actions are evaluated in terms of cost, feasibility, and projected efficacy:  Those that fare well against these criteria make their way into the plan that ultimately gets implemented.
  • The effect of actions taken is monitored and evaluated on an ongoing basis.

Getting the most from the Voice of the Customer undoubtedly involves many practices and solutions.  However, the ones described above are those that separate organizations that are truly successful at “putting the Voice of the Customer to work” from all the others.