Next-generation Voice-of-Customer

7 min read

Next-generation Voice-of-Customer

Jun 10, 2020 5:55:00 PM

GM1236---Frame---blog-post-images-v5-01Customer experience professionals know the world of VoC is changing. Their roles have become less about mobilizing surveys and more about listening and acting on what customers are saying in their own words. And as these roles evolve, more organizations than ever are competing primarily on CX. 

What does this mean for Voice of Customer programs in 2020? How can we, as a community of CX professionals, work together to elevate our voices and advocate for our customers? As business leaders, how can we take the multitude of data we have available to us and make strategic decisions to grow our businesses? 

The customer’s voice is getting louder. Together, we can redefine what VoC looks like in 2020 and beyond. 

The Challenges VoC Professionals Face

When it’s done well, VoC helps companies provide better customer experiences, generate customer advocacy, and grow their bottom line. McKinsey drives this home in its guide to customer experience: “Armed with advanced analytics, customer-experience leaders … build customer loyalty, make employees happier, achieve revenue gains of 5 to 10 percent, and reduce costs by 15 to 25 percent within two or three years.” 

But VoC programs need to transform to succeed. 

Customers are now reacting to their experience with your business everywhere, and getting meaningful insight out of feedback spread across multiple channels can feel overwhelming. There are three main challenges that VoC teams face today:

  1. More than ever, your customers expect you to listen: Proactively listening to the customers’ voice is more important than ever. Customers know what a good experience is, and they won’t tolerate a bad one: 68% of CX professionals strongly agree that customer expectations are rising. And the stakes are high, with 57% of customers saying they’ve stopped buying from a company because a competitor provided a better experience. 
  2. Your customer voice is distributed across more channels than ever: More companies have embraced omnichannel support - and that means feedback now comes in many different forms. From helpdesks, call centers, shared Slack channels, and third-party review sites to social media, customers are more vocal about their needs in more channels than ever, and the dispersion makes it even harder to listen. If you’re only gathering customer insight through surveys, you’re missing out on 90% of the picture.
  3. There’s more data to analyze, but you need to make decisions faster: Cross-functional teams like Product and Marketing need weekly (not quarterly!) customer insight to make customer-centric decisions. But companies have five times as much data about their customers now as they did three years ago. This can lead to data overload and analysis paralysis for many companies that are trying to listen to all of their customers’ voices at once. How can teams meet this need for speed and get high-quality VoC data incorporated into ongoing operations? 

To overcome these challenges, CX teams need to do two things very well. 

They need to listen, and then they need to act. 

Listen, everywhere. 

Customer surveys have traditionally been a pivotal part of a customer experience strategy. But today, you can’t just rely on solicited customer feedback data. Not only are customers exhausted from constant survey requests, but the results that you do get back are extremely dated. How often do you have to survey your customers for the results to stay relevant? Quarterly? Monthly? Survey data, especially once collated, has a very short half-life. 

Your customers are already telling you what they think outside of surveys - and they don’t want to repeat themselves. You need to listen to what customers are saying to you through the channels they are already using, available to them, whether that’s a support ticket, an email, a phone conversation, or a public comment on a community forum. 

Combine active listening across multiple channels with behavioral observations such as product usage, engagement, and churn rates. The result is a strong combination of quantitative and qualitative data that can drive near and long term strategy. 

High-performing CX organizations are nine times more likely to integrate data from multiple sources and analyze interactions across channels. These sources can be anything from customer support tickets to phone calls, emails, and CRM data to conversations in a Slack community. 

A unified, real-time view of your customers’ voice across all channels is the only way to understand what drives positive and negative outcomes. Without looking across the entire customer journey, companies can never understand their CX. Only by bringing all relevant channels together can you turn VoC into a leading indicator instead of a lagging one. 

Take action, with insight.  

To make your VoC program worthwhile, you need to act on the data it generates. Forrester says that “the ability to transform enterprise data into insights, which in turn trigger actions that affect tangible business outcomes” is increasingly one of the highest priorities for customer-obsessed organizations. There are three important pieces to using VoC data effectively. 

The first is using the right technology to analyze VoC data. Companies have more data than ever before, so implementing artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) can help sort through that data for the gems of insight. Advances in AI are expected to have a positive influence on customer experience operations by 77% of enterprises. According to Econsultancy, 36% of CX leaders are already using AI or ML, and 28% plan to invest in them. 

Secondly, those insights generated by your VoC program need to be easily accessible to teams in different departments who need to take action, and by senior leaders who need to make strategic decisions. If every department isn’t able to take advantage of the data, your VoC program isn’t working effectively. 

Finally, companies need to interpret their VoC data in the context of profile information from their CRM, such as deal size and renewal dates. With this additional information, companies can understand the trade-offs of their prioritization decisions. For example, prioritizing one piece of feedback over another may save one large customer at the expense of a group of smaller long-tail customers. But without the financial context, you’d never know which course of action would yield the highest return on investment. 

The New Definition of VoC: Listening and Acting Everywhere 

The definition of VoC is changing. Reading responses to customer surveys used to be enough, but it falls short of customer expectations today. Today, CX teams have more data and access to better technology. They need to be acting on what customers are saying everywhere, on every channel. 

Using AI and ML, CX professionals are better equipped to find the “why” behind VoC and take appropriate, high-impact action in response to customer feedback. Together, holistic listening, analysis, and action form the basis of a robust VoC program that will deliver a best-in-class customer experience.

Mary Cleary

Written by Mary Cleary