Companies are increasingly relying on feedback from Voice of the Customer (VoC) programs to deliver better service, improve marketing efforts, improve customer loyalty and provide faster customer resolution.

But to be the most effective, the VoC program needs to have enough data to drive good decisions. If a company has responses on only 5 of 1,000 surveys, for example, those responses can all be from customers who have the same opinion of the company’s service. Whether they all be delighted or all upset, it doesn’t matter. It’s not a statistically significant representation. Additionally, with too few responses, companies can miss important insights such as free form responses that may not be evident when the feedback is minimal. Below are four ways to drive more responses and more quality responses for a VoC program.

1. Use Artificial Intelligence

“Communicating client feedback can often be biased when a company only hears it through the voices of the coverage team,” said Daniel Bartucci, executive director of strategic alliances for Agio. “For many years we leveraged NPS based survey collection which allowed both scoring and free form text feedback. The response rate for such surveys was consistently a meager 11%. Many of those responses were positive.  While we were always happy to celebrate exceptionally high NPS scores, endless studies show that clients and consumers do not respond to surveys when they have had a negative experience.”

So in 2021, Agio’s marketing team integrated an AI-based tool, Gong, Bartucci said. “With 100% of our client meetings moved to Teams and Zoom, we had an opportunity to capture and analyze these conversations. The insight we received from listening to clients in this method was impactful. Not only did we capture negative sentiment we could also clearly measure when a client began to disengage. We were able to measure their active participation in meetings by looking at the amount of relational ‘small-talk,’ the number of questions they asked, as well as the length of time they spoke uninterrupted.”

Leveraging this type of technology enabled the company to make adjustments based upon what it learned from the true “voice of our clients,” Bartucci said. “We can now adjust or train our teams focused on continuous improvements as we review statistics from this system. Learning that a specific team spoke 80% of the time on client meetings allowed us to retrain and drive more interaction with clients of that service.”

Related Article: What Is Voice of the Customer and What Does it Mean for Customer Experience?

2. Use Qualitative Surveys

In the healthcare sector, patient-centricity is at the core of study design, implementation, and execution in the clinical trial industry, said Alexis Lynch, senior marketing manager for Clincierge. “For our pharmaceutical sponsor and clinical research organization (CRO) clients, it is imperative to provide products and services aligning with their goals of increasing patient enrollment and improving retention in clinical trials. To produce the desired results for our clients, it is critical to understand the experiences and preferences of study participants. One effective method to gain in-depth insight is conducting qualitative experience surveys throughout the clinical trial process.”

The data obtained from the surveys reaffirm the necessity of personalized one-on-one patient-centric support services, Lynch added. The results also show the intense emotions associated with clinical trial participation, providing first-hand suggestions to alleviate emotional burdens, which we can use to improve our current products and service offerings.

“By providing these insights to our clients, we can amplify the voice of the patient and provide direction for patient-centric clinical trial design,” Lynch said. “The valuable input we receive from patients and caregivers will continue to guide us as we improve our patient-centric approach to clinical trial support services. By understanding the experiences and emotions of those participating in clinical trials, we can revolutionize patient-focused care within the clinical trial industry.”

Related Article: 7 Voice of the Customer Metrics You Shouldn't Ignore

Learning Opportunities

3. Consider What You Already Know

To get insightful, relevant and actionable customer input, start with a single question: "Do we know what we don't know?" If the answer is Yes, you are confident that you know what your blind spots are and what you need to learn to see (and act) clearly, then surveys are a great way to get a high volume of feedback, said Robyn Bolton, founder and chief navigator of MileZero.

If, on the other hand, the answer is “no,” both Bolton and Lynch, recommend qualitative research, specifically one-on-one in-depth interviews and ethnography, to identify blind spots and build confidence that you're asking the right questions. He offers this example, "I worked with a healthcare innovation lab to help physicians, patients, and their families have more timely and meaningful conversations about end-of-life planning,” Bolton said. “The team had developed a conversation script and training but found that even though it helped doctors start conversations, it didn't result in more or better guidance or recommendations to the patient and their families. Through a series of one-on-one conversations with about a dozen physicians, we discovered that the barrier wasn't that the physicians didn't know what to say. They were afraid of saying it in a way that didn't reflect their personality and relationship with the client.”

Based on this feedback, MileZero developed a "recommendation guide that went beyond the rigidity of a script to suggest multiple options for phrasing key sentences, Bolton said. “Usage of the recommendation guide doubled once we added options, and we realized that, without these conversations, we would have continued to revise the script, surveying physicians about which phrases they liked better and publishing a guide with the one with the most votes.”

Related Article: What Lies Ahead for Voice of the Customer Initiatives

4. Use a Balanced Approach

While surveys have been the bread and butter of getting feedback from VoC programs, to get more input today, companies need a balanced approach, gathering customer input made up of direct, indirect and inferred data sources, said Eric Head, vice president, go-to-market strategy, experience management for Verint. “This holistic combination of sources and inputs can help organizations keep up with the rapidly evolving customer landscape.”

Head added that organizations can evolve and modernize their VoC programs in a number of ways:

  • Using alternative ways to deploy survey questionnaires such as engagement surveys and feedback badges.
  • Tapping into text analytics solutions to uncover themes, recurring topics and emotion and sentiment from open-ended written customer input.
  • Using speech analytics to organize and uncover key insights through call recordings from contact center interactions. 
  • Implementing a session replay tool for web visitors. This capability adds visual insights along with much deeper fidelity of what the customer is going through online.
  • Using APIs and integrations to incorporate other data sources into the CX environment such as CRM, transactional and financial data.