By Omer Minkara – Vice President and Principal Analyst, Aberdeen
Do you need to keep track of evolving buyer needs, improve customer loyalty, grow client wallet share, design better products, improve efficiency, and grow revenue? By using a voice of the customer (VoC) program to combine the power of customer sentiment, feedback, and behavioral data, your organization can accomplish these goals. VoC is undoubtedly the best way to gauge customer experience (CX) program success, and it’s more important to implement than ever.
Findings from Aberdeen’s June 2019 Voice of the Customer study show that 83% of companies currently have a VoC program to support CX initiatives across all channels and business departments. However, 70% of them are not satisfied with their ability to use VoC data to achieve organizational goals. CX leaders report the top reason for their dissatisfaction is that they find the existing VoC data they have access to insufficient to gain substantial business insights.
Some aspects of this criticism are correct; not every employee in the business has the VoC insights they need to better do their jobs. However, those insights already exist in the organization, and often within the contact center. Hence, enabling employees with access to these insight by unifying VoC data is crucial.
Almost all departments in an organization can benefit from access to VoC data. Marketing can use these insights to uncover buyer expectations and design marketing campaigns that address these needs. Sales can use this information to tailor their conversations, while customer service can use them to gauge how their activities influence customer sentiment and feedback. In the back office, product management and design can use VoC data to unearth the most common customer complaints and design more customer-friendly products; operations can uncover hidden process or service issues, such as service outages, reflected through VoC data.
Unfortunately, almost all these departments rely on disparate systems that collect siloed VoC insights. This means that while marketing may observe Facebook and LinkedIn posts or tweets about the company brand, products, or services, it doesn’t have access to customer feedback provided through an IVR system or live chat on the company website. Similarly, a client may be the perfect candidate to buy an extended warranty contract, but a sales rep has no way to know this without visibility into contact center data showing that this customer has called the contact center twice in the last month frustrated and seeking support for a product with a warranty on the verge of expiration.
Aberdeen’s research shows that Best-in-Class CX leaders minimize these challenges and get the most out of their VoC data by unifying the data captured across all channels and business departments. In fact, top performers are 31% more likely to have a unified VoC program than their under-performing counterparts.
Figure 1 shows the benefits observed by those firms with a unified VoC program.
The contact center is traditionally the nerve center of CX programs; after all, when customers have an issue, they typically interact with the contact center across various channels, including web, phone, email, or chat. In turn, contact center leaders have a rich toolbox they can use to analyze customer conversations, revealing direct and indirect VoC insights. They can use speech analytics to analyze phone calls, determining the most common issues customers call about. They can predict sentiment by analyzing individual calls and observing the tone of the customer during conversations. They can also use text analytics to analyze live chat sessions and messaging interactions to detect customer sentiment and analyze feedback provided through these channels. But Best-in-Class CX leaders don’t leave VoC insights in the contact center. They integrate VoC data captured throughout the business, ensuring all stakeholders in the company have the information they need to meet and exceed customer needs.
If you don’t currently have such a unified VoC program, the good news is that you can utilize technology tools to do that. These tools integrate data captured across all channels and departments within a single platform to make it easier for your employees to have a holistic and accurate view of the customer. Observe the findings depicted in Figure 1 indicating that firms with a unified VoC program achieve 3.0-times greater annual improvement in employee engagement rates. This isn’t a surprise; employees in firms with a unified VoC program are empowered with more accurate and comprehensive insights, and thus better equipped to do their jobs — resulting in higher levels of engagement and productivity.
As you build a unified VoC program, it’s also important to remember that integrating VoC data is just the beginning of the journey in using these insights. Once you’ve unified VoC data across your business using a single platform, we recommend adopting analytics to analyze this data to reveal hidden trends and driving factors needed to achieve more reliable insights. This is important, as poor data quality is the third highest reason why CX leaders struggle when using VoC insights.
The next stage in your journey to VoC success will be to apply the insights captured through analysis of unified data. This is a vital step, as these insights are useful only when acted upon. We recommend that you make it easier for employees to access the customer feedback, sentiment, and behavioral data they need to do their jobs. One way is to integrate the VoC platform with your CRM. This allows employees to view customer feedback and sentiment data within the CRM system — without the need to use multiple systems — making it easier to leverage VoC insights.
Ongoing training programs across the company are also helpful for CX leaders, allowing them to educate employees in every department about accessing and applying VoC insights. These programs provide opportunities for employees to learn about VoC data collected by their peers throughout the business. In turn, employees can learn where and how they can find additional insights they can use to better address customer needs.
Do you currently manage your VoC program in a fragmented fashion? If so, it’s time to join the ranks of Best-in-Class firms unifying VoC data throughout their businesses. This will help your organization generate more reliable data about customer expectations while also empowering employees across your company with much needed insights they need to achieve your CX objectives.
Omer Minkara, VP & Principal Analyst, Contact Center & Customer Experience Management, Aberdeen