How Agents Can Use Voice of the Customer Programs to Refine Customer Experience

Gathering actionable information about the customer experience can be tricky. If you wait for feedback, you miss out on the hundreds or thousands of customers who never send in a comment card or phone the manager. At the same time, asking for responses from customers can produce limited information. Instead, many companies implement voice of the customer (VoC) programs.

These programs help you gather detailed information about customer experience, as well as your customers' unique wants and needs. Implement the right VoC program and you'll gain actionable feedback and increase your brand's loyalty. However, there's more to VoC than reactive data.

VoC Assessment

VoC programs often combine qualitative and quantitative means of assessment. Customers can provide feedback in an open format, such as a comment box while answering weighted questions. In turn, their responses can be objectively analyzed.

The VoC is a type of process system that collects information from a company's customers and organizes it into a hierarchical structure. Entries are prioritized based on how the needs are currently filled and how satisfied your customers are with current performance.

VoC Programs and the Information Gathered

According to MIT researchers, VoC studies are normally at the start of a new initiative to identify customer needs and help developers create products that satisfy those needs. Customer responses inform both design and marketing decisions, but they can also provide information on how customers want to be treated and what type of customer support they prefer. For example, when Intel wanted to develop microprocessors that were specialized to particular business needs, the company created a series of VoC processes. Intel's popular vPro technology came from the wanted features identified by those efforts.

Using VoC to Refine Strategies

Agents can also use VoC processes to refine existing strategies. While VoC is often used at the start of an initiative, you can also use it with existing methods to identify what is going right, or to uncover the need for a change in the product or system. Industrial coatings company PPG did this. It set up several VoC groups to study different coatings as well as eco-friendly uses for the waste product from fiberglass. PPG was able to use the information collected to create new materials, like a fiberglass product made for wind power generation, but the company also saw ways to change existing products, like its military coatings.

Using VoC to Improve Services

Services can also benefit from VoC, be it for a service company or the services a product-based company provides. On the one hand, VoC processes can help identify the customer service your clientele really wants. On the other hand, there is the issue of feedback. If it is very difficult for your customers to provide feedback, many won't; but if you make it easy for your customers to contact you, you may not need to incentivize responses. VoC helps clarify these aspects of the customer experience so your agents can develop new strategies to delight customers.

Putting It All to Work

Does your VoC process help your agents provide better customer service or improve the customer experience? If you're not collecting actionable insights, it may be time to tweak your VoC. An effective VoC process can help your company reach customers like never before, delivering on their needs and improving customer retention.

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Michael Buenaventura

February 10, 2016