what is voice of the customer (VOC)

What Is Voice of the Customer (VoC) and How to Capture It

Voice of the Customer (VOC) is the entirety of a customer’s expectations, experiences, and feedback from on-boarding through to successful implementation and beyond. The problem—this encompasses such an expansive amount of interactions and touch points between you and your customer that it can be difficult trying to understand (and tie together) tools to successfully capture VOC.

There are several existing platforms and those that are emerging that exist to give Voice of the Customer (VoC) a way to reach others. Some companies recognize these platforms as a collection of feedback from their customer base. But one fundamental error with almost all of these platforms is that customers have to seek them out which results in the sample of feedback being very small and often focusing on the bookends of satisfaction; really good and really bad experiences. The solution all of these needs is business initiated customer feedback tools.

I have no doubt that every person that reads this blog can recall a time when they received outstanding customer service from a person or company. Similarly everyone has experienced poor service, possibly so bad that it stayed with you beyond the encounter. I was a child of the 80s and whenever you were upset with a business, your primary voice was your wallet and feet. You could walk away from that company and refuse to do business with them or if they were good you could increase the frequency of your patronage. If you’re really passionate you might tell a few friends and get them to follow your lead. Fast-forwarding to today, voice of the customer, whether positive or negative, has many places to be heard – meaning that you have more influence than we did 30 years ago.

Customer Surveys

Traditionally, customer surveys are often viewed as the primary component of collecting feedback from customers. They can provide valuable insight into the satisfaction and sentiment of customers, aggregate the results, and allow the business to act on the feedback. These surveys can be administered in a variety of ways and I will focus on a few of the most common:

  • Interaction wrap up surveys

    • At the end of a call, the agent immediately seeks feedback on the experience they just provided. GEICO famously does this at the end of every interaction, which enables them to accurately state “99% customer satisfaction” in their marketing initiatives. This method generally gets a very high participation rate but is costly due to the nature of having a live agent administer the questions.

  • IVR surveys

    • After an interaction, the customer is directed to or called back by an automated system that will ask a few questions and collect the feedback. These are becoming increasing common but the participation rates are typically in the low, single digit range.

  • Non-voice surveys

    • After an interaction the customer receives an email, chat, or SMS/text message asking a few questions about the quality of service. Email tends to have a slightly higher participation rate compared to IVR surveys but it’s still low and focused on “bookend” experiences. SMS/text surveys appear to have the highest participation rates but adoption has been slow.

Customer Analytics

Collecting customer feedback is only one piece of the puzzle in trying to understand and properly act on feedback from customers. Analytics should be in place to aid in aggregating customer feedback – providing easy to view dashboards highlighting key aspects of the information while having the ability to connect the feedback to the individual agent that delivered the service. Customer analytics paired with Customer Surveys delivers a closed loop feedback program; delivering actionable insight to leaders and agents with minimal effort and providing maximum impact.

Quality Management

Nearly every company has some sort of Quality Management program to monitor, understand, and improve upon the level of service and/or products they provide. 20 years ago the common approach was to select a small sample of interactions and evaluate them compared to some sort of benchmark expectations. With many advancements over time, it’s now possible to collect data and gain an understanding of all interactions, literally up to 100%. With Speech and Text Analytics capabilities allowing every word of every interaction to be collected, quantified, and summarized; we no longer lack the ability to gain a level of understanding of quality from every single interaction, regardless of communication channel.

Voice of the Customer

All of these components together can help a business gain a deep understanding of what the Voice of the Customer is saying and enable them to continuously improve their customer experience. You could define the VoC as the satisfaction of experiences received by a customer from a business. From a technology perspective, you could view the above mentioned tools as the VoC with respect to the fact they these tools are how the business can hear their customers. Regardless of which definition you’re interested, in its important to recognize that the world has evolved greatly - consumers are becoming ever more vocal about their experiences and businesses have access to tools to hear and act on the information coming directly from these consumers. It’s a simple choice for businesses -  understand and act on the VoC or start the countdown to end of their success.