5 Essentials for Voice of the Customer Success

Voice of the Customer
Customer Experience
Learn how your Voice of the Customer program can uncover valuable insights about your customers by following five essential steps.

The noise around voice of the customer is growing. In fact, the balance of 2012 will see an increase in the impact of VoC strategies on customer engagement and loyalty. Not surprisingly, technology, marketing, and customer care service providers are all fighting for their piece of the VoC revenue pie. But what will it take for everyone--consumers, companies, and service providers--to benefit from VoC programs? Here are the top five steps companies must take for VoC to truly resonate:

1.) Listening versus hearing - Much of the conversation about VoC centers on listening to customers. Yet, many companies erroneously define listening as the act of capturing what customers say, when they say it. That is not listening. That is hearing. Listening involves concentration, purpose, and intent so you can take what you hear and turn into something with meaning. The art of listening is what leads to learning and doing.

As a company, you need to evaluate your customer listening skills and ask: "Am I simply hearing what my customers are saying or am I listening to my customers and acting on what they are telling me?" If you are listening and acting, you are on the right path to a successful VoC strategy.

2.) Indirect feedback makes text analytics a must-have - "Unstructured" or "indirect" data is everywhere now. There's information spread across emails, texts, social media sites, blogs, Twitter feeds, videos, photos and online forums. Such sources account for 80 percent of collected business data.

This data provides new views into customer attitudes, sentiments and behaviors--if only we can make sense of it. However, businesses often fail to analyze this information successfully because of the ineffective, manual processes required to do so. Text analytics is a must-have in 2012 if your company wants to find the customer voice needle in the unstructured data haystack.

Text analytics transforms this "noise" into real business insights on which you can base business decisions. Incorporating this information into a customer experience program that integrates with all customer engagement channels is a critical step in turning active listening into active doing.

3.) Comprehensive feedback channels - Organizations are replacing point solutions for integrated end-to-end solutions that enable the capture of a single view of the customer across multiple channels: Web, email, IVR, mobile, and even paper. Point solutions are simply not up to the job; you need to seamlessly integrate everything as you go.

4.) The mobile voice - The reach of mobile devices will continue to rise in 2012. According to a 2011 Nielsen study, 62 percent of mobile users aged 25-34 own smartphones, making it even easier for them to access, and contribute to, online and social media conversations anytime, anywhere.

Your VoC strategy in 2012 must include a mobile engagement and listening channel if you desire an accurate and robust picture of the customer's true voice. Mobile also provides an opportunity to engage customers using in-the-moment yet unobtrusive methods that put the power in the customer's hands and delivers insight back to the company.

5.) Integration with business systems - Voice of the customer cannot be a standalone project. It must become an integral part of your business. It is vital that your VoC program not only integrates multiple channels, but also "talks" to your existing business systems in order to combine feedback and loyalty data with financial and operational data. This enables you to make sound business decisions, backed up by answers to questions such as "what is the value to my business of increasing satisfaction by 5 percent?"

Your VOC program must have the ability to push the insights and knowledge back into the hands of the key action owners across the business. For example, your account managers need to have their customers' feedback at their fingertips all day, every day. If they're using your CRM system all day, every day, you must present the insights there. To ensure that this data drives action, you need cater to your employees' requirements; so make it easy for them to view, interpret, and act on the voice of the customer.

2012 is going to be an exciting year for voice of the customer leaders. Great organizations have the opportunity to truly differentiate themselves through quality customer experiences, and the voice of the customer is the place to start.

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About the Author:
Karine del Moro is marketing director at Confirmit.