There is a lot of talk today in customer service circles about the “voice of the customer” (VOC). For some people it means speech analytics (literally the voice of the customer), some others use it as an equivalent to the “360-degree view” of the customer, and for others it is about customer feedback. At Ventana Research we take a broader view and define VOC as reports and analysis that include as much customer information as possible. It should draw data from all available customer sources and use various forms of analytics to extract, report and analyze it as fully as possible. I am also an avid supporter of customer experience management (CEM) and urge companies to focus on the experiences customers receive at every touch point. This is where I see VOC and customer feedback come together.
I often write that companies can’t ignore the desires of customers to communicate through many channels. I don’t see this as just a nice option: Companies that don’t support all the “modern” channels of communication will surely lose customers. As well, those that do support them have to provide consistent information and responses across all channels or also risk driving people away. The most direct way to find out if you are getting it right is to ask your customers. But even this is fraught with difficulties: Ask the wrong questions and you get the wrong answers; take too long to ask and customer will have lost interest (and will probably be annoyed you ask); use the wrong channels to ask and many customers will ignore you; and the list goes on. What companies need is a customer feedback system that helps them design and develop questionnaires, delivers them through the channel of each customer’s choice, if possible delivers them as soon as the interaction completes, and collects and analyzes the results.
Sadly my research into the use of technology in contact centers shows that only about one-quarter (23%) of companies have realized the benefits of customer feedback and only the most innovative have implemented a system to collect feedback through the channel of the customer’s choice. Research participants gave many reasons for not seizing this opportunity, among them a lack of tools available to collect feedback from all channels, to analyze feedback across channels or to identify root causes of customer issues. To help fill this knowledge gap I undertook research to create the Ventana Research Value Index for CEM – Customer Feedback Management. The methodology used to produce this Value Index evaluates in detail aspects of product functionality and suitability-to-task as well as the effectiveness of vendor support. The Index reflects the value offered by a vendor and its products, presented in clear and accessible graphic representations.
At a time when it is more important than ever – and more difficult – to retain customers and maximize the business value obtained from every interaction, it is vital for companies to know how their customers feel after those interactions. To understand in more detail how organizations are collecting and analyzing customer feedback, I have started a new benchmark research project on the topic. Please help us by completing our survey and collaborate with me.
Richard Snow – VP & Research Director