Don’t reinvent your VOC programme, use the data!

3rd Aug 2021

As organisations evolve to stay relevant in a changing world, many new initiatives are embarked on. However, as many as 80% of these are abandoned within 18 months, either for a new solution or because the initiative is deemed to have failed. Unfortunately, Voice of the Customer programmes are not immune to this cycle – with many relegated to a check box exercise, reinvented regularly or abandoned altogether. One of the primary reasons for this is that organisations find themselves on a proverbial hamster wheel - recognising the importance of feedback, implementing an initiative, not seeing improvement and going back to the drawing board. The reality is that in an environment where constrained resources need to deliver high levels of performance, any initiative that does not bear tangible results will get culled. Businesses just don't have the resources to pursue projects that are only good in theory.

Why Voice of the Customer programmes struggle to leave a mark

"Often there is this idea amongst C-suite executives that Voice of the customer programmes are nice to haves that bolsters marketing campaigns or drums up some PR, but have no real impact on the business. And frankly, too often, this perception is correct", says Sarah Lubbe, Head of Marketing and Channel at customer feedback specialist, Smoke Customer Intelligence. "When programmes are merely a formal channel through which to gather customer complaints, or a way to measure a CX metric for reporting purposes, the impact of the VOC programme is superficial and thus continuously questioned when budgeting time rolls around. The disconnect lies within the ability to use VOC data to affect operational change, on a day-to-day basis, in a way that really impacts the performance of frontline employees".

Lubbe further explains that the operationalisation of VOC data can have a real and rapid impact on both cost and process efficiency if utilised effectively and supported by the correct technology solution. Real-time reaction, service recovery enablement and managing through feedback metrics are vital to building VOC programmes that deliver actual results. In a recent ebook from Smoke CI, the feedback specialists unpacked the solutions to common challenges faced by organisations when wanting to turn customer feedback into operational impact.

"Here is where organisations struggle – a lot of time and effort is dedicated to inviting customers to give feedback. Endless strategies are deployed to increase response rates and reach customers at every touchpoint. But then, once the feedback is given, it is wrapped up in a neat CX score which is shared widely and then shelved until next month or quarter. There is so much value just left on the table – either because the technology used isn't capable of linking feedback to interactions or because the organisation isn't using the data in a way that shows where improvement should be actioned", says Lubbe. "Unfortunately, there are very few organisations who can afford to invest resources in metrics for metric's sake, but there is a straightforward solution to the challenge of the usefulness of VOC data - it just needs to be used!"

The operationalisation of VOC data is key to organisational impact.

Customer feedback is just data, and while it is immensely informative to monitor customer experience metrics, organisational impact is determined by matching feedback data to interactions, processes and people. This data triangulation means that VOC data becomes a lead indicator for bottlenecks, inefficiencies and other failures. When operational metrics are viewed in isolation, organisations risk becoming internally focused and solving operational problems without an eye on the impact on the customer (nor indeed revenue).

Voice of the Customer data is the other piece of the puzzle and the key to balancing operational improvement with customer experience. "An oversimplified example can be seen within contact centres," explains Lubbe. "In this type of environment, the number of agents employed, combined with call duration, are two main drivers of cost, and so are often closely managed to drive these costs down. When balanced with VOC data, however, it becomes clear that there is a sweet spot where cost saving and customer satisfaction meet – and this is the optimal goal – often a very different picture than that created by operational data alone." 

Customer feedback should act as the catalyst for organisational improvement, but this can only be achieved through the active use of data within the operational context. Ensuring that the technology used to gather feedback enables such data usage is key to the long-term success of any Voice of the Customer programme

For more information – download Smoke Customer Intelligence's latest ebook.

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