Plasticine speaker standing on podium talking to his crowd through red megaphone - voice of the customer concept
PHOTO: Shutterstock

The golden rule for delivering an excellent customer experience (CX) is to listen to your customer. If you know what your customers want, all you need to do is deliver it. It’s simple — except, it isn’t.

Voice of the Customer (VoC) programs have become vital drivers for brands looking to be competitive in customer experience. A Gartner study shows that 89 percent of companies are currently focused on CX as a competitive differentiator. However, according to a recent report by Forrester, only 33 percent of CX professionals say their VoC program is effective at “driving action” to improve customer experiences.  

Industry experts and practitioners outlined some steps brands can take to make VoC data go further and drive better CX improvements.

Utilize Every Possible Channel for VoC Data Collection

We are expecting to see new IoT devices enter the market this year that will give brands further access to in-depth information about their consumers. Brands “must consider the impact” that these new IoT devices will have on the overall customer experience as consumers will continue to adopt them as part of their daily life.

Rebecca Martin, CMO at Calabrio, commented that as consumers continue to expect a “quality product for a reasonable price,” they also want to have an “emotional tie” to a brand.

Martin predicts brands will start to optimize their VoC data collection across every channel. “2019 will see companies finally learn the art of listening by developing a strategy that engages customers in the right way, at the right time and on the right channel. Leveraging analytics, smart companies will monitor the entire customer journey across channels to ensure a consistent experience that drives loyalty.”

Besides IoT devices, Ben Rund, vice president and general manager at Riversand, advised brands to have a “360 view” of all customer interaction when leveraging the VoC. “The most underestimated potential is the relationships customers have, [this includes] relationships to family, friends and colleagues. If brands make it easy to share a good experience after a purchase, or even reward customers financially, this can make a difference.”

Rund added that the “tell a friend” method is no longer enough. Instead, brands must encourage their customers to produce user-generated content about the product or service and share it on social media.

Related Article: 8 Enterprise Voice of the Customer (VoC) Tools You Should Know About

Cultivate a Customer-Centric Culture

Becoming good at tuning into the VoC is more than just being able to gather customer feedback across various channels. Brands must foster and cultivate a customer-first culture in order to maximize their VoC data collection.

Jeremy Korst, president of GBH Insights, said a strong customer-centric culture will greatly impact your VoC strategy. “Great marketing and customer experience starts with obsessing over the voice of the customer. Ultimately the culture you define transcends everything you do from planning and strategy to prioritization and rewards,” Korst said. 

Related Article:  8 Ways to Support a Customer-Obsessed Culture

Constantly Review VoC Data Capture Procedures

The present-day customer journey is “constantly changing” and customers are able to provide their “voice” more easily thanks to the growing number of channels becoming available. “To be successful, brands need to capture VoC data in real-time, while using predictive analytics to drive, nurture and expand their customer relationships. Success on this front requires constant learning and experimentation,” said Korst.

Increasingly, more customers are providing their voice in the form of free-text. Lisa Abbott, CMO at Wootric advised brands that being able to process these free-text comments at scale with the help of Natural Language Progression (NLP) and machine learning is a big win. “Categorizing all of that open-ended data used to be tedious and nearly impossible, but cost-effective CX platforms have evolved to make this turnkey with the help of machine learning. Solid text and sentiment analysis can help settle internal debates about the "why" behind CX scores,” Abbott said.

Turn VoC Feedback and Insights into Action Items

Korst highlighted that many brands tend to start off with a decent VoC data collection strategy, but then get caught in the “analysis paralysis” of failing to turn their VoC data and insights into action items.

To rectify this, Korst shared the following questions brands must ask themselves to improve in this area:

  • How does your organization measure and reward the feedback loop?
  • Do you have a structured approach to aggregating, summarizing and prioritizing VoC feedback?
  • What’s the specific process for the teams to apply customer feedback?
  • How do you measure success?

In answering the above questions, brands will be able to regain their focus on their VoC strategy.