Firms have an unprecedented ability to listen to and understand changing customer needs. Advanced technologies turn unstructured social media posts or contact center transcripts into meaningful and actionable insights. Predictive analytics hone the noise of billions of interactions into signals that can help firms avoid scaling costly mistakes and tap into emerging opportunities.
But the typical Voice of the Customer (VoC) program today resembles stone-aged tools and approaches. Operating in siloed Customer Service, Marketing Departments or Digital Groups, listening programs largely focus on post-transaction or channel-specific surveys. While immediate and timely, the questions fail to capture customer’s holistic experience and are reactive. Organizations typically use a single technology to capture customer survey feedback when there are many other customer data sources to consider. Furthermore, when firms merely focus on quantitative, structured data, they miss the detail and context that comes from qualitative, unstructured data.
VoC is an encompassing term to describe the strategy and processes, technology, data, as well as people utilized to capture customer perceptions about interactions with a company and to drive organizational improvement. Strong VoC programs transform strategic and operational decision making, unite technology systems and applications, provide data-driven insights in unprecedented ways, and change organizations’ structures and teams. VoC programs will continue to play a foundational role for companies seeking to differentiate their customer experience. To build a strong foundation, West Monroe believes firms need to understand next generation trends within the four key components of VoC programs: Strategy & Process, Technology, Data, and People.
STRATEGY & PROCESS | Advanced organizations obtain feedback through a variety of methods, focusing not only on specific customers interactions, but also on the relationship with a customer, including the journey the customer has taken up to and after the point of contact. Advanced VoC programs utilize a combination of transactional and journey data to make predictions about future behavior to impact the bottom line. Additionally, more progressive VoC programs are not only closing the loop with unsatisfied customers, but they are also finding ways to engage organizational promoters to ensure continuous improvement across the company. Those who continue to speak positively and promote your company are extremely valuable. Advanced VoC programs understand this fact and are harnessing their advocates’ buying potential and imprint through other means of engagement such as customer advisory panels and customer rewards programs. These types of programs ensure organizations continue to evaluate, prioritize and manage cross-functional improvement projects across departments and business units that will positively impact other customers.
Strategy & Process Trends
- Understanding the entire customer’s journey, not just the transaction
- Shifting from post-transactional surveys to relationship-based engagement and understanding
- Closing the loop with both detractors and promoters to drive organization improvement
- Utilizing customer data and feedback to predict future behavior
TECHNOLOGY | Advanced organizations utilize a broad range of technology sources to obtain a holistic picture of the customers across all potential channels of contact. This omnichannel approach utilizes system integrations with data sources such as customer relationship management (CRM) systems, survey platforms, contact center recordings, social media, review sites, and more. It is imperative for companies to listen to and manage the feedback received across all methods of customer communication to aggregate it for organizational change.
- Moving from a single surveying tool to a system suite to obtain customer data
- Developing a complete picture of customer interactions with various technologies and platforms
DATA | The most advanced organizations understand they cannot predict everything on the minds of customers. That’s why they turn to customers’ own words in the form of the unsolicited and unstructured data provided in open-ended comments, on in-bound phone calls or on social media. Though more difficult to quantify for impact, the insight received in this way can provide the necessary explanation for insights found in quantitative and structured data. Additionally, the ways companies are receiving data is continuing to transform. Companies are identifying the means to aggregate these different types of data to understand the complete, and potentially complex, experiences of customers.
- Synthesizing, prioritizing, and analyzing an enormous amount of data from interaction behavior
- Utilizing both quantitative and qualitative data to comprehend customer perspectives
- Evolving from structured data to both structured and unstructured data
- Aggregating data from both solicited and unsolicited mechanisms for feedback
PEOPLE | Once fragmented by department and channel, leading companies consolidate customer listening in a centralized organization to provide a holistic and unbiased customer perspective. This central organization shares VOC program results not only with the C-Suite but with employees and external third party partners, who impact the customer experience, regardless of whether they are front lines or behind the scenes. More employees are involved in the solution development and prioritization of improvement projects than ever before which leads to more educated initiatives.
- Developing cross-functional, democratizing teams to support VoC programs
- Creating and promoting multi-layered VoC programs organization-wide
- Sharing feedback beyond leadership with customer-facing employees
A VoC program is no longer simply a vendor survey tool or vendor selection. Today VoC programs serve as the means to aggregate and make sense of the customer information available, as well as leverage it for change. An investment in a VoC program can enhance not only understanding of your customers, but the way in which your organization conducts its business. No matter the stage your organization’s current VoC program, adjustments can be made to enrich the understanding of your diverse customer base and their many interactions to initiate the required change within your organization.
For more information on how you can utilize a VoC program to drive impact within your organization, please contact Dave Nash, Director – Customer Experience at firstname.lastname@example.org or Paul Hagen, Senior Principal – Customer Experience at email@example.com.