Almost every major brand now has a Voice of the Customer (VoC) programme. And in recent years talk of CEM or VoC has increasingly been replaced with “customer-centricity”.
However, the reality is that many VoC programmes actually seek to serve a business objective of monitoring a KPI such as NPS, and to justify the decisions already taken. Rather than listening to the voice of the customer, instead we still all too often ask our customers to spend their precious time answering multiple rating scales on a measure that the customer doesn't even care about. Is this really customer-centric?
A recent visit to my car dealership for a service saw me begged and implored to score a 9 or 10, as I was clearly told anything other than this score would result in negative consequences for the salesman in question. How, I wondered, did my experience become all about them? And how does this help improve the experience in future?
Let's take another example. After a recent flight, I was asked to give my feedback, only to be asked to rate multiple different aspects of the experience. 15 minutes of questions about every conceivable aspect of the flight. What I really wanted to say was that the cabin service was really good, but after 10 minutes of answering about anything and everything other than this, I’d frankly lost the will to continue further and just wanted the whole experience to end. Again, the feeling persists that I was filling in a series of scorecards that suited the airline rather than feeling they genuinely wanted my feedback. Not exactly “customer-centric”.
This old way of working is neither customer centric nor sustainable into the future. We must change now or have change forced upon us.
Why? Firstly, in a world of big data and multiple screens, consumers have ever-increasing demands about their time and a decreasing attention span. For researchers, this translates into lower response rates and a marked reduction in willingness to conduct longer surveys.
To continue receiving meaningful feedback, brands need to demonstrate the relevance of doing so to the customers and engage with them. Working with your own clients can also provide a platform to take this further and start co-creating with them.
You can start by stripping back questionnaires, relinquishing control and letting the customer control the agenda far more than they do currently. However, this doesn’t mean that VoC programmes should be about producing less useful information for the business, in fact, the end outcome will be more beneficial to the business; more focused, more relevant insight, and at a lower cost.
Using text and voice analytics, we are now able to really uncover what matters to the consumer, instead of inferring this from analysis of multiple questions. From these responses, we can recreate categorisations for analysis, add the sentiment to our understanding, and understand customers at a really granular level. And we know everything said is relevant and important, because it has been volunteered and not forced, from the customer.
Not only that but as consumer expectations change in the face of an ever-evolving environment, this will appear in the unstructured data analysis. New measures can be tracked and measured, and retrospective trend analysis applied. Companies can see these changes and be more proactive in addressing them.
Finally, such an approach has substantial cost savings. Asking fewer questions reduces costs, and being able to analyze unstructured data also helps eliminate the need for ad-hoc research to dig deeper into changes in KPIs.
With social media providing consumers with a platform to amplify good and bad experiences, listening to the voice of the customer has never been more important.
It's time we started to really listen.