Most customer experience leaders say they have active voice of the customer (VOC) programs in place to measure positive and negative feedback. They track Net Promoter Score (NPS), ask customers to complete surveys, and employ speech analytics. But too often they are not really listening.
Research from Forrester found that 71 percent of respondents said their VOC program was not fully or mostly effective in driving actions. And Temkin Group says that although 70 percent of companies are collecting customer feedback, only one-third actually believe that they are designing problems to solutions or making changes to the business based on the insights. The Temkin Group reports that only 11 percent of companies have reached the top stages of VOC maturity (collaborators and transformers).
A voice of the customer strategy is an important part of a strong CX analytics platform. However, the voice of the customer process is often misunderstood and therefore poorly implemented. Likewise, utilizing VOC best practices to gain a complete picture of the customer experience is easier said than done. Why is success so elusive? There are four VOC myths that have taken hold over the years. These myths need to first be dispelled if voice of the customer best practices are to be implemented to create customer centric experiences.
MYTH 1: Voice of customer best practices equals lots of survey data
In the early days, the only voice of customer data that could be easily collected and analyzed was customer surveys, and it soon became the norm. However, recently new sources of data have emerged and it has become easier to capture customer insights. The scope of VOC data has expanded to more than just self-stated survey responses. Other kinds of voice of customer programs and customer tools such as speech recordings from call center transactions, emails, chat data, and social media comments, for example, provide more layers of information that can help companies better understand their customers’ actions. Any behavior or perception that can be captured and analyzed has the potential to provide even greater insights about customer motivations, frustrations, expectations, and experience. Adding a component of understanding helps answer “why” customers act the way they do.
MYTH 2: Voice of customer strategy only applies to our customer relationships
VOC should be renamed to voice of the consumer. Voices of potential prospects are highly relevant and insightful, too, and one could argue that in a growth company eager to identify new opportunities, the voice of the prospect is even more important than the customer’s. The prospect’s voice helps us identify opportunities for education, gives us insight into why we may not be in the consideration set for some, provides an awareness into a competitive strategy, and a lot more.
MYTH 3: Voice of customer is explicit customer feedback
It is a common misperception that the voice is always customer/prospect-initiated and explicit in the sense that they have to call-in, text, email us, or fill out a survey. While proactive customer outreach is certainly part of it, there’s much more. When your customers and prospects visit your website, for example, their clickstream data is VOC data that provides very valuable insights. When customers click on a banner ad or traverse aisles in a retail store, their behavior qualifies as VOC data, as well.
MYTH 4: Voice of customer data on its own can improve customer experience (CX) and business performance
VOC data is extremely powerful and can provide invaluable insights on its own. However, it typically lacks information around a customer profile and transactional behavior that reside in enterprise data warehouses and CRM systems. The real power of voice of the customer data comes when you can link all of these data sources. Linking data is critical to evaluate the worth of what can be learned from VOC data to make meaningful, actionable recommendations.
For example, you may receive 200 inbound calls a day to your call center, and speech analytics tells you that on average most of the callers have a very negative sentiment because they are upset about the new pricing strategy recently launched. That is great information, but would you go out and change your pricing strategy based on that information alone? What if 90 percent of these calls came from low-value customers who represent only 5 percent of your revenue? Linking VOC to customer profile data and transactional behavior is of paramount importance when deciding your best course of action.
Five voice of the customer best practices for business success
With those VOC myths dispelled, we can turn our attention to the voice of the customer trends and best practices that will help you gain incredible insights and improve customer experiences. And it is important to remember that robust VOC strategy isn’t just about analyzing a software algorithm or dashboard report. While technical products or services available in the market are important voice of the customer analysis tools, if they are not part of a larger VOC initiative, the insights gathered will not be as valuable as they could be.
Instead, to have long term customer success and truly listen to your customers, don't think of just the parts of your voice of customer process, but more importantly how they fit together to provide a complete picture of the customer experience. Ideally, to achieve a holistic voice of the customer strategy, each of these best practices will align to the others across the entire organization, not in just one department or business entity. Here are the five most important voice of the customer best practices to achieve VOC success and improve CX.
- Real-time listening across touchpoints
- Data integration across touchpoints and enterprise systems
- Efficient signal extraction from structured and unstructured data
- Disseminate and share signals with relevant stakeholders and give them actionable recommendations
- Integrate with frontline systems like CRM, contact centers, etc.
A centralized CX function or a cross-functional team that is championed by the CEO is usually the best place to start to develop and take action on a VOC strategy. One of the key things for this function to keep in mind is that they are not only leveraging the data and the insights developed in various siloed business units, but they are also leveraging the front-line capabilities of these business units to act on VOC strategy. Hence, collaboration is critical. Be careful not to replicate what already exists in the siloed business units. Start small with pilots to prove the value, and to foster collaboration with business units. When they see the value, then it is time to scale up and go into production.
A successful voice of customer strategy needs to evaluate the entire customer journey on all channels
Digital and mobile sources of customer data (websites, social media, smartphones) have not only become important sources of voice of the customer, but also critical channels for enabling the actions and insights learned from voice of the customer analytics.
Let us consider mobile. First, mobile can be a data collection channel. One has to take care to not just put current online surveys on mobile, but instead design for mobile to get instantaneous feedback. This means keeping it short and sweet. Second, mobile is more than just a data collection channel. With the amount of time customers are spending on mobile, it is a great source of implicit VOC. What customers are doing on mobile will provide insight into customer needs, preferences, and motivations (e.g., how often are they browsing on apps versus texting, etc.). What is the content that they are viewing and how engaged are they with it? Finally, mobile can also be used as a channel for action either via SMS, email, alerts, or other outreach.
Today, tracking visits on your own site (mobile or otherwise) can easily be done using cookies, resulting in what is typically known as first-party data. Third-party tracking is feasible as well with customer consent. Customers are very willing to share information as long as they get something in return, and in this case the promise is for a seamless, frictionless customer experience.
As we add additional channels to our VOC programs like digital and mobile to serve as both voice of the customer input and enablers of actions, it will become imperative to build capabilities in the following areas:
- Integrate the information collected from these channels with information collected from traditional channels.
- Analyze disparate sources of information in real time and extract signals
- Translate those insights into actions and determine the best channel(s) to leverage.
Conclusion: Voice of the customer best practices and VOC strategy
We hope you enjoyed this article disproving common myths and providing key voice of the customer trends and best practices to help your company's CX transformation. As mentioned previously, VOC is not a new term. It has been re-ignited as a differentiator due to its influence on customer service and customer satisfaction. Likewise, a strong understanding of what your customer expects does more than just improve the customer experience, it can have a great influence on your brand's relationship with customers. When a VOC program successfully incorporates customer preferences it can improve customer loyalty and overall customer retention, which increases overall customer lifetime value.
Additional TTEC Voice of the Customer resources
5 Simple Ways to Optimize Voice of the Customer and Speech Analytics Data: In this guide, learn 5 ways to use speech analytics and call center analytics software to augment employee experience on the floor and customer experience over the phone. Today’s leading contact centers leverage speech analytics technology to enhance overall customer experience, train associates more effectively, and ensure quality assurance (QA) across all channels and at every contact point.
Change the Voice of Customer Conversation in the Contact Center: Contact centers are primarily designed to operate on efficiency. Because of this, nearly everything about their operations gets measured. But in the fast-paced economy driven by high customer expectations, are companies measuring the right things in the contact center? In this article, learn how to answer “why” questions as part of your voice of customer analysis in order to uncover opportunities to improve the customer experience.
VOC Analytics: 5 To-Dos in the New Era of Data : Capturing customers’ expectations, aversions, and preferences—i.e. listening to the voice of the customer (VOC)—is table stakes for most organizations today. But as customer behavior and habits evolve, listening practices and the ability to act on insights must evolve as well. Here are five VOC best practices to enhance the voice of the customer analytics process and begin delivering more impactful customer experiences.