Voice of the Customer

Healthy Voice of the Customer Practices 

Much like starting healthy lifestyle efforts, Voice of the Customer (VoC) programs have basic elements that everyone should follow.  To start running sprints without warming up or building physical capabilities first can lead to injury, and VoC is no different.

Here are some guidelines on how to get started on a healthy VoC program:

1. Establish Your Baseline

Much like physical health goals, you need to know where you are starting from in order to determine what your company is ready to implement, and at what level of intensity you can begin. Finding out what customer experience measures currently exist, where customer information lives, centricity of company culture around the customer, and more will help you know what the starting point on your VoC fitness journey is, and with what exercises you should start. Just like fitness programs for individuals, finding out where the organization is will let you know what the workout program should be for getting VoC fit!  

2. Set Goals

Just like healthy living programs, you need to establish goals.  And not just big goals like losing 50 pounds, but interim goals that give you a sense of wins along the way.  Align with individuals across the organization on what you want to achieve. These goals can be a combination of strategy and quick wins that will engender buy-in from executives who may need convincing in order to back the VoC program. 

3. Get the Right Equipment

With established goals and plans, you need equipment to get those fitness goals accomplished (i.e. running shoes or weights).  For VoC programs, your systems are your equipment that will connect you to your customer’s voice, their feedback on your products and services. These include contact management tools, survey systems, monitoring tools, etc.

Like in fitness, many people can end up buying equipment they don’t need or overpaying tremendously for tools they barely use. Understanding what your real needs are for a survey system or other platform before purchase can save untold amounts of financial outlay and frustration. Referring back to the real baseline of your organization and the goals being set can help keep in check the risk of overspending on tech and underperforming on programs.

4. Listen to Your Body

When starting a fitness program, trainers make sure to tell people is to listen to their bodies. This helps them know when to adapt an exercise to prevent injury and attain better results.  The same is true for companies working on their VoC program fitness. Once you understand your baseline and map customer journeys incorporating not just the perspective of customers but also employees as well you can establish the right listening touchpoints throughout your organization.

Listening at the right moments allows you to know what matters most to the customers and allows employees to share the feedback they are getting from customers.  There are many mechanisms to enable listening– interviews, focus groups, call recording/analysis systems, data mining, and surveys (of course) but don’t forget your customer-facing employees who can be a wealth of information and are absolutely crucial to the outcomes of VoC programs overall.

5. Mind Your Metrics

Everyone loves to “get their steps in” and track progress on their FitBits or smartwatches. It gives a sense of achievement and provides real feedback on our efforts and intensity of our workouts. Analytics for VoC programs offer the same buzz, but just like in fitness, you need to make sure the metrics you’re using are the ones that equate with successful outcomes.  People can get their 10,000 steps in and never lose weight because they weren’t tracking their nutrition inputs. It’s the same with VoC – metrics like Net Promoter Score can be helpful, but ultimately, may not be the metric needed at different listening touchpoints to ensure a successful customer experience. Making sure the metrics are married with qualitative feedback for a fuller picture of what the customer really wants and needs is crucial.

6. Staying Active

The key to any fitness program is to stay active– you’ve got to keep moving!  If you don’t, lost weight creeps back on and strength is lost– it’s the same with VoC program fitness. The best ways to drive action is through engaging with customer feedback across the company. Workshops, communication plans and closing the loops back to your clients and customers are ways of staying active. If you listen and analyze but don’t drive actions that change behaviors to help your customers more successfully engage with your company, then the VoC program isn’t fulfilling its ultimate purpose. 

Keeping your VoC program healthy is just like keeping your body healthy!  Consistent effort with the right actions makes the difference. And those who work with personal trainers outperform those that don’t!

Interested in more? Add your name and email below and we’ll notify you when the next article is published.

Katrina Starnes

Katrina Starnes

Cofounder 4Xperience, Operational Research

With nearly two decades of experience in market research (both quantitative and qualitative) Katrina is adept at finding creative research solutions that balance client needs and budgets. Katrina’s project work spans numerous industries: transportation, pharma, government, education, retail, advertising, museums, utilities, credit unions, analytics firms and non-profits; as well as typography: customer feedback, B2B, competitive intelligence, advertising effectiveness, employee engagement, grant-funded program evaluation, branding, product development, and more.