Why Does Voice of the Customer Matter?

Voice of the Customer programs are proven to help organizations retain customers, build better products, deliver better services, and systematically understand customer experience in order to drive change. Organizations that understand their customer journey are much more likely to improve their products to fit their customers’ evolving requirements and therefore to foster their loyalty.

Bring the customer’s voice into your organization and you can expect the following results, providing you take action on the insights you receive:

  • Increase revenue: Through reduced churn, improved cross-sell opportunities and the ability to attract new customers
  • Reduce costs: By improving processes, ensuring compliance and creating greater process consistency
  • Promote culture change: By driving customer-centricity and cross-functional change.

Why Implement a Voice of the Customer Program?

Customers expect a seamless customer experience. They don’t know or care about different touchpoints or internal processes. A Voice of the Customer program helps businesses not only understand customers’ expectations, but also identify and manage shortcomings in order to make the right decisions.

Through Voice of the Customer programs organizations learn how to execute valuable CX practices such as asking for customer feedback at the right time, in the right way, and acting quickly to resolve immediate issues. Or closing the loop with individual customers and use aggregated insights to make strategic changes in the longer-term. Practices proven to help retain customers, build better products and services, and develop a systematic understanding of the entire customer experience.

Besides organizational performance improvement, businesses who adopt their own Voice of the Customer programs, and act on gathered insight, can expect other benefits such as: 

  • Increased revenue through reduce churn, improved cross-sell opportunities and the attraction of new customers earned via positive word of mouth
  • Reduced costs as a result of improved processes, ensured regulation compliance, and creating process consistency that supports front-line teams.
  • Positive culture changes by creating an environment where Voice of the Employee and employee feedback is used to help improve customer-centricity and promote collaborative change.

How To Build a Voice of the Customer Program?

There are 5 stages every successful voice of the customer program should follow to ensure it delivers the insight needed to foster good customer experiences, provide a strong competitive advantage and generate ROI:

  1. Define: Make sure the VoC program is aligned with overall business issues, to create clear, phased objectives and success criteria and to map customer journey and key Moments of Truth
  2. Design: Design a program that delivers both tactical and strategic benefits and is mapped to key business objectives. Select a robust, powerful and scalable program architecture which includes key components such as sampling, feedback channel requirements based on the customer journey map, survey design and reporting, and closed-loop alerting
  3. Listen: Put in place multi-channel data collection to ensure customers can provide feedback in ways that suits them. Select a secure and scalable platform to gather customer feedback, automate alerts and escalate issues that require attention
  4. Analyze: Perform advanced analysis of the feedback, including structured and unstructured data, to create a clear view of issues that need to be address. Design tailored reporting to provide actionable insight at every level of the business, from customer service managers to the CEO
  5. Act: With the actionable insight collected, work quickly to resolve individual customer issues through an automated closed-loop system. At a strategic level, identify the processes that cause repeated problems and take action to resolve them and improve the customer experience

What Are the Characteristics of Best-in-Class Voice of the Customer Programs?

It’s not always easy to come up with the magic formula when it comes to successful Voice of the Customer programs. There are variations for B2B and B2C organizations, between specific industries, and even between regions. But best-in-class VoC programs do have a few elements in common:

  • Customer insights are not only collected - they are shared in the right way with the right stakeholders at the right time in order to drive change
  • They are generally multichannel programs that offer customers the right channel for them to share their feedback
  • They combine structured feedback (through surveys for example) and unstructured feedback (social media, email complaints, etc.) in order to give a holistic view of the customer experience
  • They have a customer-centric culture that leverages insights to drive change at all levels of the organization, in order to drive business outcomes

Which Channel Should Be Used to Collect the Voice of the Customer?

To collect the right feedback at the right time, businesses need to identify and use the channels customers want to engage in. This will not only boost response rates, but show customers their preferences are highly valued.

A combination of the main channels below is ideal (all integrated within one solution):

  • Web
  • Email
  • Mobile (SMS, App)
  • Telephone
  • Social Media
  • Paper (still… in some cases)

No channel is better than another – it’s all about selecting the right way to engage with customers so that they want to share their feedback and know it will be actioned.

When to Collect the Voice of the Customer?

A good starting point to answering this question is a Customer Journey Map. This exercise enables organizations to identify key touchpoints in the customer journey where they need to gather and understand feedback in order to improve their internal process, and customer experience as a whole.

Throughout the buying cycle (before, during and after purchase), customers interact with different people at different times, so understanding their level of satisfaction in detail at various key interaction – or touchpoint - helps CX experts understand what should be fixed and what the impact of that action will mean for the customer and for the business.

In addition to understanding these touchpoints, analyzing the state of the overall relationship with respondents can also be immensely effective. This is usually done at precise intervals (e.g. 3 months after purchase or before renewal). What is sought after here is a continuous stream of feedback that will help businesses trend the health of their customer relationships over time, which will help fuel future business decisions.

How Do You Know the Voice of the Customer Works?

Analysts like Forrester and Gartner have published a variety of reports linking VoC and CX to financial benefits. However, the best way to see the effectiveness of Voice of the Customer is through the real businesses outcomes of companies and organizations who have implemented their own VOC programs. This includes companies like Virgin Money, which saw a 33% YoY growth in revenue largely thanks to the effectiveness of their Voice of the Customer program.

In addition to external resources, internal performance changes following the implementation of voice of the customer can provide invaluable insight into whether or not VoC actually works. Are we facilitating the reception of quality customer feedback? Is feedback data getting to the right channels? Are we executing changes in a timely manner? Is our process streamlined enough to reduce cost? These are all questions that, if asked, should clarify how effective Voice of the Customer is