Voice of the Customer (VoC) is a holistic approach to gathering quantitative and qualitative customer data, complemented by service delivery experiences and putting those insights into action for the good of the firm, customers and supporting employees.
Regardless of the size or maturity of your business, if you can’t hear your customers’ voice, how will you ever know their wants, needs, expectations, likes and dislikes? However, keeping a pulse on your customers sentiment and actually acting on these learnings are two different things.
It’s fairly simplistic for an organization to start and end their journey towards the Voice of the Customer by looking for customer feedback, but it’s another thing entirely to gather in-depth data from across the customer journey, analyze it and use its findings to implement systems and processes that are aligned with driving outcomes and behaviors that are reflected by delighted customers.
An impactful VoC program is a major step towards becoming truly customer-centric and for most organizations taking a step to embrace digital transformation is the launch of harnessing, analyzing and trending data.
And that is why at this year’s Frost & Sullivan Customer Contact West, I will host an interactive session on the subject, highlighting the best approaches to adopt and the pitfalls to avoid.
Put simply, a Voice of the CUstomer program means removing internal barriers that are stopping data from flowing through the organization and preventing employees from sharing and acting upon insights. Transformation has an IT aspect – often systems are disparate and siloed, so information collected in one area of the organization is invisible to systems in other areas of the company. Equally important is the cultural element. Hierarchical structures need to be simplified, employees need to be trained to use new digital tools and a culture of empowerment and innovation needs to be sponsored at executive level and supported throughout the organization.
At a time in our history where disruption has never been so fast or all-encompassing across all business sectors, the benefits of undergoing such a transformation cannot be overemphasized. With your focus firmly on delivering customer satisfaction, every business decision will be influenced by customer wants and needs and this can only increase your bottom line. Companies that genuinely invest in and act in line with customer experience increase customer lifetime value, reduce churn rates, have higher levels of brand loyalty and advocacy and boast a lower cost to serve.
What’s more, implementing a truly robust VoC program provides a clear indication of the steps your organization needs to take in terms of transformation. It will highlight data impasses and disconnects, as well as friction and pain points on the customer journey.
To start really hearing the Voice of the Customer, begin by collecting and collating as much customer feedback as possible from a multitude of sources. For example, in a contact center this would entail key measures such as first contact resolution, average handle times, transfer rates, contact quality and of course CSAT, NPS and Customer Effort Scores.
Businesses with an outsourcing partnership tend to have a distinct advantage in this regard. Not only do key success criteria govern the overall agreement, but also a true partnership will provide you with industry-level benchmarking, best practices and access to VoC expertise and supporting technologies. An outsourcer who is genuinely committed to delivering best-in-class customer experience management will be proactively measuring all of these metrics and constantly adjusting service to improve them, while also providing recommendations that are grounded in delivering to your strategic company objectives.
However, structured, quantitative data is just one aspect. To be truly effective the data collection should include unstructured sources, including associate disposition details, speech analytics from call recordings, social media posts and online reviews. Again, this may be out of reach of organizations that don’t have direct access to customer insights and analytics capabilities, but should be part of a leading BPO provider’s arsenal of solutions and services.
Whether these insights are obtained in-house, in partnership with your outsourcer or via a third-party provider, these need to be further augmented with qualitative insights drawn from customer interviews and focus groups.
With all data collected it’s time to unlock its meaning. At this point it’s crucial to remember that the best way to process all of this information and to convert it into actionable insights is to look at it from the customer’s perspective. Your data should highlight the processes and approaches within the organization that are performing well and are aligning with customer expectations and corporate objectives – congratulations! In the transformation it’s important to continue to monitor consistency of performance as you make adjustments elsewhere in the system.
Conversely, in areas where opportunity has been exposed, an analytical discipline can be applied as the initial step in creating a strategic Voice of the Customer roadmap. With the right analysis, the answer in many instances presents itself. For example, if high transfer rate analytics identify that associates are transferring calls by process that can be easily remedied through up-skilling, knowledge base improvements, etc., a business case can be created to fund the actions to remedy the gap driving a poor CX.
This is the hardest element of a VoC program. We are quick to highlight the challenges of big data – of being able to break down silos and combine different data sources to create a unified customer view. While many companies are struggling with this data overload, even those enterprises that have a firm handle on their data are only as good as their ability to act on its insights.
Navigating through barriers such as ‘paralysis by analysis,’ limited resources (dollars and people), conflicting priorities, among others requires sound tactics. At the 2019 Frost & Sullivan Customer Contact West, which this year runs from October 27-30, I will conduct workshops for business leaders that demonstrate the best ways to capture and implement Voice of the Customer findings into the service delivery framework. Significant results can be realized, regardless of where your firm currently sits within the data analytics life-cycle.
Your customers are your most crucial source of information about every aspect of your organization and to genuinely profit from this most precious information source, your organization needs to know how to channel it into the business with a built-in culture of continuous improvement.