Most companies now have a Voice of the Customer (VoC) programme in place. Often these are underpinned by technology platforms collecting customer data via feedback forms deployed following customer interactions with the business. These are served on the end of customer service calls, or emails triggered by customer purchase behaviour or links on the end of online chats, to name just a few methods.
It’s become big business for the research-technology companies managing these systems collecting and analysing this data. At Lexden, we have been helping clients navigate their way through scoping, searching, selecting and set-up of new VoC partners. So, we know first-hand how impactful this insight is on the business and how quickly the business becomes dependent on effective VoC.
Get it right and the insight will inform the direction of business travel. But if the quality of insight is impaired the whole Customer Experience (CX) Strategy can be in jeopardy.
We invited some Voice of the Customer practising expertsto tell us what 2017 holds for them.
In summary, our participants highlighted that VoC is going from strength to strength, with growth planned in 2017. However, we heard for it to remain integral to the business, more must be in terms of data collection techniques and analytics capability as well as improved application of VoC insights in the business.
Below are the highlights:
- VoC budgets to grow in 2017
- Role still limited to tactically being a part of the ‘fix the experience’ team
- Integrating customer feedback with existing customer transactional data
- With innovation in demonstrating customer value and improved data collection techniques
Below is the feedback highlightingareas which will receive more attention and where investment and improvement in VoC is anticipated to be focussed in 2017.
Most respondents stated budget would rise in 2017. Speaking to one Head of Insight they said that previously they’d missed including VoC as a specific line on the budget submissions so had pulled in spare budget from ad hoc research to cover it, whereas now it has its own budget line.
At Lexden, we very much see Customer Experience as a business model. One which if embraced by the board and will be aligned to objectives to drive greater profitability from more content and committed customers. So, whilst it’s still disappointing, it’s not altogether unsurprising that from a broader list of options three of the top five answers for what value VoC provides are principally tactical.
In fact, only 1 in 10 CX programmes achieve their ROI* which is line with these findings where 11% use VoC to results to lead investment decisions. Some commented that VoC is a support indicator in their business, but as leaders become more comfortable with customer experiences importance and impact on customers they expect this to change.
We run ‘Client Only VoC groups’(free to join – new entrants always welcome) where practitioners meet to share customer feedback challenges and solve each other’s problems. So, these results very much reflect the discussions in the groups.
Answers 1-4 can be grouped as demonstrating strategic value of VoC. Which we highlighted was a shortfall on how VoC value is currently assessed. The primary focus will be on connecting VoC feedback to BI to express value in ways in which the business is more familiar such as sales and profit.
We are aware that CFO’s are now challenging Customer Experience investment which is proving to be difficult to specifically account for. But like sponsorship or brand investment, CX must be accounted for. The newer CX measures can identify much better where ROI is achieved against CX investment.
Conventional customer experience performance measures arenot designed to provide such an answer, but are being used in this way. And whilst Net Promoter Score, Customer Satisfaction and Customer Effort have their role in focussing colleagues on customers, we’ve seen numerous client examples showing they have a low correlation to customer share of category accountability.
Along with this, the focus will be on getting the right customer insights to the right stakeholders internally in a format which is more accessible to them, such as business ready solutions. VoC often resides with Customer Insight which in turn is within the Customer Research function. For many it will also be about repositioning the function as a proactive intelligence centre in the business.
Answer 5 – ‘sentiment quality’, is worth dwelling on. The quality of sentiment analysis as well as coding and categorising of verbatim is a hotly debated topic. During some of the pitch meetings we ran with vendors in 2016 it was an area we found some vendors falling short on. Many systems are not able to interpret expressions such as “it’s sic, hah!” as positive or negative leading to mis-categorisation or exclusion of some insights.
There are now data collection tools which dynamically update questionnaires based on the customer’s feedback.But it’s still up there as an industry thorn to be removed.
So, what next? Which areas do our participants see VoC innovations coming through? Well I was interested to see data collection or ‘feedback fatigue’ as it was put to me has surfaced as a priority
area where innovation will be driven from. Customers are bombarded with so many requests and it is impacting 1) who bothers to respond and 2) the quality of their response.
From personal experience, I receive between 4-5 feedback surveys from various companies I’ve interacted with on flights, in restaurants, at hotels etc. per trip. In addition,respondents to our survey expect new data sources to come through. With the arrival of data capture such as heart monitoring activity, companies such as Fit Bit, PlayStation and Apple will be able to read exactly how you felt when you fed back. This will provide great context.
Presentation of content features which is understandable when dealing with large amounts of complex data. A decent VoC reporting tool can take weak data and cut through with a less familiar audience. More customer video footage, live customer interactions and ‘issue demos’ are ways we anticipate this will grow.
We are currently trialling a simultaneous customer and employee feedback platform which enables the business to react quicker toa live data feed. It also has a compelling impact on audience confidence and trust in the data when it’s built by them.
So, there we have it. The future for VoC is bright, for 2017 at least. With much opportunity to make the feedback programme a part of the extended customer experience.
Hopefully, this will prove useful insight and the supporting narrative gives you some areas for further consideration.
Posted by Christopher Brooks, Customer Experience Specialist, Lexden
Source: Invitees to Lexden’s ‘VoC Priorities for 2017’ Survey. Posted on Lexdengroup.WordPress.com and shared with VoC LinkedIn groups in Dec 2016.
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