Are You Hearing All Customers' Voices?

The most basic, and often most common, voice of the customer (VOC) programs exist solely to measure customers’ impressions across touchpoints along the purchase process. When accompanied by a closed loop mechanism, these programs also serve as an insurance policy of sorts to keep a pulse on experience and mitigate potential disasters.

Depending on where an organization is on the journey to CX maturity, its VOC program may consist of a single transactional survey, or it may be one of many inputs present within a broader exploration of its  customer landscape. Given the complex nature of human behavior, gold standard VOC programs gather data from a diverse set of sources. Diversification of data is preferred for three reasons:

-- Organizations are empowered with a greater view of their end-to-end customer experience the more windows they open into that experience.
-- Unanticipated insights are more likely to be uncovered related to areas of customer delight, disappointment, or unmet needs.
-- It's easier to gain organizational consensus regarding which CX improvement initiatives to implement when multiple sources point to the same customer issues.



Obtaining Diverse Feedback

Robust CX programs extend beyond the transactional sales experience. These programs gather direct customer input pertaining to relationship strength, reasons for selecting a brand and, contrarily, reasons for leaving a brand. Exceptional programs incorporate the voice of a company's own employees. Synthesizing themes from both groups allows targeted and focused improvement efforts guided by valuable insight into the best ways to correct process, policy or service issues.   

Contrary to popular belief, not all additional sources of customer feedback must come from surveys. A wealth of information about customers and how they interact with a business is available within your organization’s customer relationship management system (CRM). Information such as the number of times customers have made a purchase, how frequently they purchase, average spend, tenure with your company, and demographics.

Unsolicited customer feedback is yet another avenue for exploration. This can come from internal conversations with customer service or through social media posts. Incorporation of open-ended call transcripts along with key metrics such as the reason for the call, number of calls required for resolution and call duration, provide insight into areas of improvement that will positively impact customer experience and reduce cost.

While not all brands show up equally on social media, if your brand has any presence at all in this medium, it's wise to monitor mentions. This practice will help detect emerging issues and allow action to remedy them before they are experienced by a large portion of customers. 

Finally, while survey data remains the clearest way to answer direct questions about CX, third-party data can also be incorporated to provide a greater understanding of customer behavior patterns. Integration of third-party behavioral data with CX and CRM data is most often used to support growth efforts through the creation of targeted audiences.

Advice In Practice

For example, one luxury retailer's transactional VOC programs tracked significant declines in overall CX and sales  at a select number of previously well-performing locations. A thorough review of customer and employee comments revealed a disconnect between staffing and traffic volumes. As a result, the operations team was able to quickly recalibrate staffing volumes in affected stores. Within one month of the adjustment, the stores saw positive change in employee morale, CX ratings and a steady reversal toward positive sales growth.

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