Best Practices of Voice of the Customer (VoC) Programs

Most large organizations have some sort of voice of the customer (VoC) program in place; however, the vast majority of these programs fall short in driving customer-centric behaviors.

In fact, recent Customer Experience surveys conducted by Forrester Research, on 133 companies with annual revenues over $500 million, show only 10% had “excellent” ratings. Thirty-four percent had “poor” or “very poor” ratings.
Why do large and small companies continue to struggle with this basic activity? The simple answer is they fail to fully execute a program. Four common key problem areas are highlighted in the following table.

Table 1- Current Voice of the Customer Program Problem Areas
Key Problem
Description
All listening and no action
Companies spend a lot of time figuring out which questions to ask customers but do little with the feedback
Siloed and uninsightful
Departments ask customers questions, but valuable insights never get passed along to other areas in the company.
Ad hoc and unresponsive
The periodic nature of gathering feedback lacks insight for time-sensitive issues like customers’ reactions to new products, the rise of quality issues, and increased competition.
Costly and time-consuming
Market research processes require a lot of budget and months of planning driving people to make decisions without the benefit of good customer insights.
Thrive Analytics believes companies can dramatically improve their VoC programs by following some simple best practices.

  • Improve Your Data- VoC programs are only as good as the data that drives them. Don’t just rely on Net Promoter or Satisfaction survey results. This represents a small portion of data. Incorporate unsolicited data, from blogs, call centers, letters, employees, etc. Most programs don’t use this Social Insight, however it is becoming critically important as more consumers are using social applications. 
Voice of the Customer Program- Data Structure

  • Create Insights- In order for a program to work properly, you need to drive change by providing actionable insights. Collect the data, connect the dots and provide specific actionable recommendations. Make these recommendations available to everyone in the organization. This can be easily accomplished using intranets, special sites and links. Proactive pushes of data allow everyone in the organization to understand where they stand.
  • Acting on Insights- Provide business value by changing insights into actions. Incorporate insights into employee training sessions, strategic planning sessions, and implement real time responses to customer issues. Doing these things will ensure customer concerns are addressed and processes get fixed or modified in the organization.
  • Measuring Results- Keep the program on course by tracking results over time. Monitor results of every business unit over time, however don’t alienate stakeholders by policing. Frame results in an objective manner and change will come.  
  • Executive Alignment- The entire organization needs to embrace customer feedback. Use executive sponsorship to help facilitate change. With this level of support setting the tone, stakeholders will become actively engaged in the process. Make customer insight everyone’s responsibility. Tie objectives to performance, reinforce customer-focused behaviors through recognition programs and focus on opportunities and not problems. Identify the root cause and find a solution rather than assign blame.

    

Jason Peaslee

Jason Peaslee is the Managing Partner of Thrive Analytics, a marketing research and analytics consulting firm. His career spans more than 20 years in marketing, advertising, product development, research, and business management. Before founding Thrive Analytics in 2010, he held several senior leadership roles at AT&T, Reynolds & Reynolds, Berry Network, & The Berry Company.

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