The Case for VoC Strategy: Building a strong foundation

Author: Paige Burdick Blazei and Antje Helfrich, CCXP
11 / 14 / 2017

Most companies don’t have a robust voice of the customer (VoC) program. Only 42% use technology to support a VoC program, which means they either don’t have a program at all, or the program is ad-hoc and limited in its reach. When companies do adopt a technology platform (commonly referred to as a customer feedback management (CFM) platform), they often underutilize it and don’t reap maximum value from it. We have examined the reasons companies aren’t satisfied with the return on their VoC technology investment and found that in many cases, the reason is a lack of strategy.

A lack of VoC strategy represents the difference between collecting data and using data to drive CX improvements that positively affect customer engagement and retention. A CFM platform helps scale the customer data collection, analysis and reporting; it does not, however, offer a shortcut to a VoC strategy that outlines how to effectively integrate customer feedback into the business and drive action and results.

In this blog series, we lay out a plan for getting more out of your VoC program through developing a strategy, efficiently utilizing technology, and driving outcomes. First, we will address the need for a strong foundation and strategy before implementing technology.

As you think about starting (or evolving) a voice of the customer (VoC) program within your organization, it’s tempting to begin by finding a technology partner and implementing a customer feedback management (CFM) platform. Instead, we recommend embarking with these four steps:

  1. Get executive support

For a VoC program to be successful, the entire organization must be bought in, and customer-centric organizations are led by customer-centric leaders. If your executives aren’t already focused on the customer, present them with data and insights, and depict pieces of the customer journey to help them understand how customers are experiencing your products, services, and brand touchpoints. You’ll likely be able to demonstrate that many customer needs and expectations are not met. Win the executive team over by communicating the business impact you will drive with a VoC program, including increased revenue, decreased cost, and stronger customer retention.

In our experience working with clients across industries, having clearly articulated executive support for a VoC program dramatically accelerates program implementation and adoption across the company. CX leaders in industries ranging from retail and telecommunications to healthcare and airlines consistently tell us that securing C-level support increases the success rate of their VoC efforts dramatically.

  1. Develop a blueprint for taking action based on customer data

Customer feedback is only useful if you act on it, and you need a strategy and processes in place for organizing employees around that goal. Plan how you will respond to customer feedback in the short-term by closing the loop with individuals and problem solving one-on-one. Furthermore, plan for how to act on customer feedback by driving systematic improvements in your business mid-term and long-term. Loop in key stakeholders to make sure they understand why and how their teams should use VoC data and how it will help them optimize the experiences they create for customers and the ecosystem of internal processes behind those experiences.

  1. Tie VoC program measures to business results

The primary reason companies implement VoC programs is to drive business results. When setting up your program, make sure you gather feedback that will propel you towards your business goals and allow you to measure if you are successful. Define the metrics you will report out to your organization, and create a dashboard and reporting framework. Most importantly, when defining this measurement framework, involve key stakeholders including frontline employees, as they are the individuals who need to use this data to make business decisions.

  1. Prepare to integrate (all) your customer data

The more data points you connect, the better you understand how customers interact with your organization. Work with stakeholders who own data sources and design a strategy and process for collecting and integrating data across channels and departments. Ideally you will integrate CRM data from multiple sources including:

  • Call, email, and chat
  • Structured and unstructured feedback
  • Loyalty programs
  • Social network platforms

It is especially powerful to integrate transactional data from in-store, online, and app interactions and purchases. Nike’s retail employees save customer data and preferences to a centralized customer profile. When a customer contacts the Customer Service Center or visits a store, relevant data is surfaced, and the frontline employee can serve the customer more efficiently and in a more personalized manner.

Once these steps are accomplished you will have built a strong foundation for establishing your VoC program. Read the second in our series for our tips on selecting a CFM platform for your VoC Program.

About the Author

Paige Burdick Blazei is a Consultant at Lenati with background in building customer-centric experiences in B2B and B2C enterprises, start-ups, and non-profits. She is passionate about working with companies to better understand their customers and determine how to use customer feedback to positively impact business results.

Antje Helfrich is a Senior Manager at Lenati and brings over 20 years of experience developing B2B and B2C customer-centric marketing strategies. She has led successful initiatives with well-known brands including Starbucks, Microsoft, T-Mobile, SAP, AT&T and more. Antje is passionate about the intersection across business, customer, and marketing technologies. As a leader in Lenati’s Customer Experience Practice, she helps clients create meaningful customer experience programs that drive loyalty and generate business growth.

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