Companies failing to hear customers' voices, survey finds

8th Sep 2011

Voice of the customer programmes are a critical element of a customer experience effort and yet only a tiny proportion of large companies have mastered them, new research reveals.

A new research report published by Temkin Group, The State of Voice of the Customer Programs, 2011, analysed data from 192 companies with $500 million or more in annual revenues.
Voice of the customer (VoC) programmes are a way to identify and prioritise customers' needs and wants to improve product development and service quality. Using a combination of qualitative and quantitative research techniques, companies can identify unmet needs, both articulated and unarticulated. Study methods may include focus groups, individual interviews, ethnography, or other techniques.
Nearly two-thirds of the companies examined in the research, all of which have formalised VoC programs, believe that their VoC programme has been successful. Only a small proportion – 7% - believes that these efforts have not succeeded.
And yet the study also found that only 2% of large firms had Mastered Voice of the Customer programmes, despite their importance as a tool for managing customer experience.
“Voice of the customer programs are critical components of many customer experience efforts. These programs help companies operate with a customer-centric view of their business,” said Bruce Temkin, author of the report and managing partner of Temkin Group.
The analysis uses Temkin Group’s VoC maturity model to assess the effectiveness of companies across six components of a VoC program: Detect, Disseminate, Discuss, Diagnose, Design, and Deploy. On average, the companies received an “okay” or “poor” rating in each of the six areas. Companies scored the most poorly in two capabilities: 1) detecting insights about customers and 2) designing solutions based on the insight. About one-quarter of companies, however, were rated as “good” or better in each of the areas.
The VoC program assessment identifies five levels of maturity for VoC programs: Novices, Collectors, Analysers, Collaborators, and Transformers. Only 2% of the companies ended up with the highest maturity rating, Transformers, while 46 per cent were in one of the two lowest levels of maturity.
“VoC programs are evolving rapidly. It’s no longer good enough to simply send out a survey to customers. Companies need to tap into a wide number of insights and continuously take action on what they find,”
Temkin added.

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