Our panel of experts discuss the importance of listening to the Voice of the Customer (VoC) and provide insightful suggestions on how contact centres can improve their programme.
1. Combine Solicited and Unsolicited Feedback
Most organizations today see the importance in listening to VoC, but some are still analysing interactions based on solicited feedback such as surveys. Whilst useful, surveys alone tend to only attract the extreme ends of the spectrum.
The typical respondent is either extremely satisfied or extremely dissatisfied, and the vast unresponsive majority in the middle are never heard. As a result, there is a huge disconnect between the real customer experience and what is being reported in most companies.
The key to getting the most out of your VoC programme is combining the solicited feedback from surveys and NPS with unsolicited feedback that can be gleaned from monitoring and analysing omnichannel conversations, such as phone, email or chat.
This provides you with an opportunity to gain a genuine “before, during and after” understanding of the customer experience from all customer interactions – allowing you to paint a clearer picture of how your customers really feel and why.
Thanks to Frank Sherlock at CallMiner
2. Tailor Feedback Communications by Customer Segment
Getting insight from your customers who don’t give you feedback is valuable. You can make huge assumptions about your entire customer base by looking at the data from the people who are either really happy with the services or product you supply or those who are unhappy – they’re often the most vocal about giving you feedback.
But what about the people that you never hear from? Don’t assume your high CSAT ratings and quantitative data is representative of your customer base. Part of getting feedback from your silent customers is understanding more about them, what motivates them, what communication channels they use, and when they are typically free to give you some feedback.
Tailor your communications requesting feedback and collection method by customer segment and you’ll have more success filling in the blanks.
Ensure that whatever feedback you’re getting is centrally stored in a Voice of the Customer repository, tagged with key themes, analysed regularly and shared across the business to ensure insights are listened to and, more importantly, acted upon.
Thanks to Ben Booth at MaxContact
3. Measure Emotional intelligence
Many contact centre customer experience programmes are measured by more traditional metrics and survey feedback loops. These metrics are reactive information or technology-related statistics. This provides a selective impression of friction, effort, and satisfaction results.
Improving a voice of the customer programme requires a deeper layer of insight and understanding to deliver a consistently good experience.
Emotional intelligence is a critical part of improving service standards gleaned through customer asks and/or emotions.
Understanding customer responses and finding a balance between engagement effort and empathetic listening will positively impact net promoter score (NPS) and is the catalyst for improving customer success programmes.
Thanks to Rene van Popering at Contexta360
4. Pinpoint Moments That Matter
Map out specific customer journeys and use VoC research to pinpoint moments that matter.
At these vital touchpoints, get to grips with all the people, processes and technology involved in supporting the customer. Then, design new solutions. These may lower customer effort or deliver a “wow” moment. It depends on the significance of the touchpoint within the journey.
Such interventions will not always involve elaborate development plans and cross-functional initiatives. For particular issues that result in high costs, lobbying for board-level intervention is crucial. Yet contact centres often find tremendous value in marginal gains. Examples could include:
- Proactive alerts and reach-outs
- Self-service and online content enhancements
- Coaching and policy changes
However, when assessing particular journeys, also encourage members of other departments to join in. They may offer alternative solutions which improve customer outcomes and lower contact volumes, producing a win–win situation.
5. Listen to the Frontline Team
Even the most advanced VoC strategies benefit from advisor commentary.
Even the most advanced VoC strategies benefit from advisor commentary. The frontline team add colour to common problems that customer feedback pinpoints (be it prompted or unprompted).
After all, advisors often notice ongoing issues before managers who inspect VoC reports on a weekly or monthly basis. So, give employees a voice too. Create the necessary platform for advisors to share critical, evolving issues in real time.
In many scenarios, advisors will highlight issues that surveys and tagging might miss. They can also discuss the emotional impact that such problems have on customers.
So, when delving into a specific issue, talk to advisors and uncover the effect it can have on customers. Doing this will shed light on its severity and lead to ways to resolve issues and improve customer experience.
Another benefit of listening to advisors and making them feel like part of the solution is that it often enhances employee engagement.
6. Why Do Customers Contact You?
Generating customer experience metric scores and finding trends in verbatim feedback is invaluable. Yet consider the context behind VoC feedback. Dividing it between different contact reasons means that contact centres can highlight crucial improvement opportunities.
Creating such a process does not have to be complicated. Teams of three or four advisors may even keep written notes of popular reasons for contact.
However, the larger or more complex the operation, the more intelligent these processes must become and the greater the need for technology systems for automated assistance. For example, contact centres can implement:
- Basic ticket tagging
- Detailed reason categorization of all contacts
- Speech/text analytics for automated tagging
These systems help contact centres spot emerging trends and quickly resolve issues. Take a speech analytics system, for example.
It can indicate repeated phrases used in customer conversations to highlight new or common failures within particular customer journeys. Such an approach forms the basis of an incredibly astute and effective VoC programme.
7. Gain Insight Across the Entire Journey
To improve service at the most critical moments, VoC teams can aggregate an array of data sources, not just endless surveys. As such, consider indirect feedback sources, including:
- Data and metrics from other departments
- Conversation recordings and transcripts
- Social listening and reviews on third-party sites
- Customer actions at various touchpoints, e.g. website activity.
Creating a cauldron of customer data enables teams to produce a vivid vision of different journeys in a unified view.
In doing so, the company accesses a single source of truth, which every department is able to work with to deliver better experiences for customers and employees.
Thanks to Jade Turley at Calabrio
8. Garbage In, Garbage Out
It is generally accepted that when dealing with data the garbage in, garbage out principle applies. Don’t just run superficial or vanity analytics on entire data sets, make it a deliberate process.
- What do you need to know?
- Why is this important?
- And what are you going to do with this knowledge?
Exploit the rich data you have accumulated both for a general overview, but also to really focus on the specifics. Segment the data to show how opinions might have changed over time, perhaps alongside the introduction of new services.
Furthermore, consider where there could be gaps in your knowledge. Do you need a new set of customer surveys? Have you considered an agent survey?
Agents interact with your customers every day and have an ear to the ground when it comes to emerging motivations. Ultimately, your goal is to find out what your customer wants and if you are succeeding in supplying it.
9. Where Was the Reaction Ambivalent?
The focus of any Voice of Customer programme is for the long term, creating and maintaining customer relationships with improved lifetime value.
Success requires a thorough knowledge of your business’s unique product or service and its placement in the market. It is not just how customers feel about your product, it’s how they connect with your brand and messaging that keeps them coming back.
With this in mind, you need to analyse not only what worked and what didn’t but also where the reaction was ambivalent. Indeed, no news isn’t always good news, as being ignored will get you nowhere. Furthermore, take things in context.
For example, a small number of negative respondents may be incidental and not representative of the overall sentiment. These are just the ones who took the time to give feedback.
10. Extend Voice of the Customer Initiatives Into the Rest of the Business
Customer opinion is fluid and expectations change as your business and that of your competitors develop. Therefore, it is vital to fully embrace Voice of Customer initiatives and extend them into each new development of your business.
Be proactive and maintain visibility across touchpoints in your customers’ journeys. Embracing new channels into these journeys brings value to the services you offer. It also brings more data to improve your organization’s sensitivity to the variety of segments within your target audience.
Effective strategies require sensitivity not only to customer needs but also to brand opinion, competitors and market changes as a whole. At the end of the day, however, it is what you then do with this information that counts. Being digitally agile can give you the competitive advantage needed to be responsive in a way that outperforms the competition.
Thanks to Richard Gregory at Odigo
11. Create a Community Portal
With 66% of customer service teams and 82% of customers using knowledge bases, a community portal should form a key component of your customer success strategy. It can also be an excellent way to determine which product features and changes should be prioritized.
When developing a portal, it’s important to listen to what customers are requesting, adapting it around their needs and requirements.
You might consider giving customers the ability to suggest ideas, raise and vote on product enhancements, as well as allowing them to ask for advice from other customers and solution experts. This can be incredibly powerful, but make sure you complete the 360 loop and let customers know when you have actioned an idea.
Thanks to David Evans at Vonage
12. Be Open to Feedback
People mirror what they see from above, so start at the top. If you are distant and unreachable, then the people who are most important in your operation – the people who deal with your customers every day – may mirror your approach and service standards will fall.
If, however, you are open and approachable to your team (and indeed everyone you work with), your team will work harder and feel more valued in what they provide.
Providing feedback in a way that encourages improvement and growth, and that does not diminish the hard work and pride that has been put in, is key and will stimulate people to grow.
Ask don’t tell, and be open to ideas and feedback. You will find that eventually your customers’ feedback will become more positive and constructive, allowing more positive interactions with everyone.
Thanks to Claire Benbow at Sensée
13. Don’t Just Rely on the Customer to Tell You How They Feel
Depending on the point in the customer journey, customers may feel reluctant to provide feedback or be too busy. My piece of advice would be not to rely wholly on your customers to tell you how they feel.
There are so many tools and features that can help you understand how your customers may feel when they’re contacting you.
A great example is speech analytics, where your teams can look at sentiment analysis, indicate the tone of the conversation, detect emotion, and highlight keywords that may mean someone is satisfied or unsatisfied with their experience with you. Use this to add another dimension to your Voice of the Customer programmes as another layer of insight.
Thanks to Sean McIver at MaxContact
14. Are You Listening to the Customer or Hearing the Customer?
Call monitoring is at the centre of this evaluation; but customer feedback is more valuable than ever because there are more channels and tools available for customers to respond, rate and recommend their experiences.
Multiple opportunities are now available for you to listen, evaluate, and reproduce the voice of the customer. It’s important to design your evaluations not just to capture the immediate impact but to incorporate the value and CX perception over time.
Ultimately, your call monitoring goal is to hear the voice of the customer. But different roles hear different things. Make sure you incorporate multiple perspectives, including supervisor, customer, agent and automated analytics.
Your tools and processes should be designed to provide insight into the complete customer experience and help improve and develop agent quality and performance while hearing and listening to the voice of the customer. Don’t forget to segment your markets.
Different customers have different voices, so, while collecting feedback, data points, and correlating actions, make sure you don’t make the mistake of a one size fits all; segmentation and subsets are designed for precision and granularity.
Using these hyper-segmentation strategies will become invaluable to identifying not only the types of customers you serve, but whether your service strategies align when proactively planning and deploying the right staff, at the right time, for the right customer.
15. Make Feedback as Seamless as the Service
In addition to providing companies with a method to predict, plan, and forecast metrics for the future, low-touch digital outbound has the unique ability to utilize cross-channel self-service, where customers can make requests, fill out forms, or simply trigger actions that give companies a better understanding of customer needs.
Savvy companies can utilize this opportunity to incorporate VoC programme goals and strategies into your technology; creating a feedback system that ratchets up, in order to become more accurate as customer engagement increases.
16. Align Marketing Strategies to the Voice of the Customer
Companies attuned to the VoC often get a head start on market changes, localized economic events, and industry trends before the market is saturated or before it’s too late.
A VoC-centric marketing approach can apply these metrics to predict actions within customer segments as discussed previously.
Companies that want to stay ahead of market trends will demonstrate a commitment to aligning marketing strategies to the voice of the customer, creating a collaborative environment – an environment where a customer knows that their voice is heard and taken seriously, and your agents handle the right problems by answering the right questions while maximizing transparency and trust in the process.
Thanks to Linda Farrell at Alvaria
17. Don’t Overlook Your Customer Effort Score (CES)
There are many techniques to improve your voice of customer (VoC) programmes, such as conducting online customer surveys or tracking your Net Promotor Score (NPS).
There are other crucial metrics that are often overlooked. According to a recent study, only 15% of contact centre professionals said they track Customer Effort Score (CES), although 73% stated CES is important. This metric shows how much effort it takes customers to resolve their issues.
The harder it is for your customers to interact with your brand, the less likely it is they will continue to do business with you, and over time this will hurt your business’s bottom line.
Technology such as intelligent virtual agents (IVAs), can help improve your CES. IVAs can empower customers with self-service options so they can get the support they need in real time and resolve their enquiries with impressive immediacy.
Thanks to Five9
18. Move Beyond NPS and CSAT
Net promoter scores and customer satisfaction surveys are very good at revealing what your customers think of the service you provide.
But if you want to get a real insight into how to improve your service in the future, you can’t afford to build your Voice of the Customer approach around these metrics. Instead, you need to get at the real reasons why they feel like they do.
That’s where the next generation of tools can help by providing an extra level of precision that tells you why the customer was negative or indeed positive about your service delivery. In the former case, it could be that items turned up late or the delivery was missing an element.
Positive feedback could relate to how calm and efficient staff were. Getting access to that level of precision enables the business to address problems or enhance the service by putting more emphasis on those behavioural aspects that resonate well with customers.
19. Use AI to Identify Valuable Intent
In order to find insights that matter in growing data volumes with semantic analysis, use natural language processing (NLP) and emotional intelligence analysis to power your voice of the customer campaigns.
Next-generation VoC tools have language analysis capabilities built in. They understand the concept of a human sentence, the different elements from subject to verb to object that need to come together, and the importance of context.
By analysing language in this way, it is possible to spot attrition risks, for example phrases like “I have had to call or email twice to get this result” or “I’ve had to wait for ages and nobody contacted me”. These customer effort indicators can be analysed by the business to trigger appropriate customer service responses.
20. Share the Results With Other Teams
Doing the Voice of the Customer analysis in itself is of limited value. Organizations also need to share the results with other teams across the company and ensure all departments act in a consistent way to improve upon the feedback.
The insights gained could, for example, be used to drive operational improvements or to help service teams develop data-driven CX strategies. Understanding what customers like about a product or service can guide sales teams and establish smarter strategies.
Beyond that, organizations can start tailoring marketing campaigns according to how people prefer to talk to them and segment their customers based on how they interact and what their pain points are.
Thanks to Gary Bennett at Enghouse Interactive
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