Group of people over vintage colors background shouting - Voice of the Customer concept

More than three-quarters of consumers expect companies to understand their needs and expectations. No shock in that finding by Salesforce in a study of more than 6,000 consumers. 

One way companies can better understand those customer needs are through Voice of the Customer (VoC) programs: when companies collect feedback from customers through interviews or surveys on experiences, desires, expectations and needs in relation to a product, service or industry. They can do this through VoC software, defined by Gartner in its November Magic Quadrant for Voice of the Customer as a “software application that integrates feedback collection, analysis, distribution and action into a single, interconnected platform to help you understand and improve the customer experience (CX).”

Where VoC Templates Enter the Mix

Companies use Voice of the Customer templates included in this software to collect this information. Voice of Customer templates are survey templates that help leaders gather feedback from their customers at scale, according to Christine Rimer, VP of Customer Experience & Advocacy at SurveyMonkey.

“These templates help leaders understand their customers’ satisfaction,” Rimer said. “The most common use cases are for customer support leaders to understand the experience their support agents provide to customers after a case is closed or understand a customer’s likeliness to recommend using the Net Promoter Score (NPS).”

The questions below are what SurveyMonkey uses as its customer service template after support agents close a case: 

Overall, how would you rate the quality of your customer service experience?

  • Very positive
  • Somewhat positive
  • Neutral
  • Somewhat negative
  • Very negative

How well did we understand your questions and concerns?

  • Extremely well
  • Very well
  • Somewhat well
  • Not so well
  • Not at all well

How much time did it take us to address your questions and concerns?

  • Much shorter than expected
  • Shorter than expected
  • About what I expected
  • Longer than expected
  • Much longer than expected

“Customer support leaders are often the first to implement gathering customer feedback at scale leveraging a customer satisfaction template,” Rimer said. “A customer success or customer experience leader is likely to leverage a Net Promoter Score template to understand the overall health of a customer as a leading indicator for customer retention and expansion.”

Related Article: How the COVID Crisis Has Businesses Changing up Their VoC Playbook

Net Promoter Score Impact

One of the basic VoC templates comes in the form of the aforementioned Net Promoter Score, which measures how likely it is that a customer will recommend your brand, services or products. SurveyMonkey collects this NPS data with a simple question.

How likely is it that you would recommend this company to a friend or colleague?

  • Scale of 0-10, 0 being not at all likely and 10 being extremely likely.

Many feel the NPS shouldn’t stand on its own as the lone or central VoC collection metric.

Jennifer Oyler, head of customer experience at Principal Financial Group, noted the debate around the appropriate usage of the Net Promoter Score. It was intended to be a measure of understanding that customers have through interactions and experiences end to end with brand.

“And what we're finding today is that in some organizations — and I get it — they're also using NPS for transactions and that was never the purpose of NPS,” Oyler said. “So when I go into organizations and I see that sometimes I try to shift away from that mindset. We need to think about the true intent of NPS and really what are we trying to measure at those key moments of truth.”

OSAT, CES, CSAT and Questions to Ask

Savvy CX professionals are well aware of VoC go-tos like NPS, Overall Satisfaction (OSAT), Customer Effort Score (CES) and Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT). But it’s worth noting here when discussing possible VoC templates.

Overall Satisfaction Score (OSAT)

Gilad Rom, founder and CEO of Huan, said his teams seek regular input from customers and tracks Voice of the Customer metrics. According to Rom, an Overall Satisfaction (OSAT) score can be determined by asking your customers the following question.

What was your overall satisfaction with your experience?

Ask them to give a rating on a scale of 0-10. Note that you may get higher OSAT scores if you pose the question at the beginning of your survey compared with posing it at the end of your survey, Rom added.

Customer Effort Score (CES)

The Customer Effort Score (CES) measures how much effort your customers had to exert to achieve a customer service resolution of a particular issue. This metric is particularly relevant for call centers or customer support environments. In short, a CES is asking your customers about an experience with a product or a service:

It was easy to accomplish this task. Please rank that statement on this scale.  

Customers, for instance, can rank their experience on a seven-point scale ranging from "Very Difficult" to "Very Easy," according to a post from HubSpot's Alex Birkett. 

Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT)

The CSAT is your basic measurement of a customer’s satisfaction with a brand’s product and/or services. CSAT determines a customer’s level of satisfaction at key interaction times, such as the moment of purchase, the onboarding process, a support ticket exchange and a phone or digital conversation with customer service. 

One approach to a CSAT survey, shared earlier with us by Brian Slepko, senior vice president, global service delivery for Rimini Street, is based on the following:

  • Level of knowledge
  • Understanding of the issue
  • Professionalism
  • Responsiveness
  • Effective communication
  • Timely resolution
  • Effectiveness of the resolution

Related Article: Why You Should Care About the Customer Effort Score

Engagement Center Survey Template

How are some CX practitioners deploying VoC templates of their own? Oyler of Principal Financial Group shared a template of the VoC process behind an engagement center survey:

a voice of the customer template provided by Principal Financial Group

Low-score surveys (1-4) and closed-loop feedback reviews are handled by leaders to ensure CX teams capture the root cause of the customers’ concerns, according to Oyler. This enables CX teams, she added, to drive deeper reviews of the “voices”/themes that surface to be the greatest concerns and areas for improvements.

People, Processes and Technology

Thinking beyond the VoC acronyms and specific industry-standard approaches, Oyler said that for Voice of the Customer templates and programs she likes to view things from the lens of people, process and technology. The big goal is to determine where your CX program is and its level of maturity.

Of course, there are many other layers she leverages in her customer experience practitioner role, such as the KPIs that measure financial performance, operational performance and CX behavioral metrics. That’s just a small slice. People, process and technology are always top of mind.

“Especially with a global business," she added, "it's truly doing an assessment of where are we today from a people perspective, a process perspective and what are we using for technology.”