Maturing Your Voice of Customer (VoC) Program

Max Kenkel
Max Kenkel

customer filling out experience survey on iphone

Surveying customers won’t magically transform your brand. Evolution of your brand requires analysis to identify the root of negative interactions, action to change behavior, and focus to bring desired behaviors to life. Use survey intel to gain insight how best to encourage employees and partners to adopt habits that consistently demonstrate the value of your brand.

If your net promotor score (NPS) is stagnant or declining and your customer satisfaction scores seem to be heading in the same direction—we should talk. But only if you’re ready to make a change.

(Put another way: If you continue to see the same problems with no change, then it’s time for a little coaching.)

Unsure about taking the leap? Look at some of the results we’ve been able to deliver for a current client in just six months:

  • 11-point NPS increase overall
  • 29-point NPS increase (138% growth) for customers coming to the brand directly
  • 11% increase in Better Business Bureau rating

Great strategic recommendations die on the vine without action, and all credit to this client. They wanted to do better, and they took action to make that goal a reality.

Data-Driven Action Matters Even More Than Insight

The importance of data in decisions lies in consistency and continual growth. The right data helps companies create new business opportunities, generate more revenue, predict future trends and optimize operational efforts. With actionable insights you stand to grow, evolve your brand over time and become more adaptable as a result.

Even knowing these benefits, many brands un- (or under-) utilize recommendations from data.

In fact, according to a February 2021 study by Forrester, only 12% of CX professionals rated their Voice of Customer (VoC) maturity as high or very high.

Here’s how Forrester identifies the three stages of VoC maturity:

  1. State of the Art: Includes sophisticated analysis and full integration across all data types
  2. Advanced: Includes complex analysis of unstructured data from multiple sources (including employee feedback) and a formal process for taking action
  3. Foundational: Includes basic analysis and reporting based on feedback from multiple channels (mostly surveys)

In short, success comes to those who act on customer feedback with a desire to improve. (If you’re taking action, congrats! You’re probably more mature than most companies.)

Remember that client we mentioned above with some great 6-month results? That client created a consistent, streamlined method of collecting the voice of the customer this year, ranking them as more mature than a lot of companies. Our partnership includes weekly calls where we pull out data insights, including freeform text responses. These responses are where the gold is—when customers specifically call attention to the gaps in product or service. We monitor and dive into open text responses, to ensure that data doesn’t sit unused or underutilized.

When we make a recommendation for improvement, this client acts immediately. This real time action is what’s driving such big, positive swings in their ratings.

Understand Why Improving Your VoC Maturity Scores Is Important

chart showing estimated percentages

Source: Gartner

Overall, companies with mature VoC programs achieve higher scores on critical customer experience metrics, including NPS. In addition, companies with best-in-class VoC programs also saw more positive social media mentions about their brand.

Building a robust VoC program takes time. Here are three tips to maturing your VoC program:

1. A strong NPS means people are likely to recommend your brand—but a survey score is not enough.

Word-of-mouth recommendation still carries a ton of weight. Regardless of how you track it, improving scores is almost certainly causation for increased business from customer advocacy. Fixing perceived issues also shows customers the brand is listening, fostering trust in the brand. And in a world where almost 73% of customers are ready to bail after three (or less) bad interactions, how a brand handles feedback and acts on it is critical to extending the relationship between brand and customer, which leads to a longer customer lifetime value (what I think is the most important metric a brand should be tracking).

But the score is just a score. It’s what you do with it that matters.

2. To start improving these scores, make sure you have an easy way to collect word-of-mouth information from customers and distribute it broadly to internal stakeholders.

From ITA Group’s standpoint, we’re generally agnostic on which tool brands use to collect feedback. We’re not here to replace big feedback systems from companies whose singular focus is the collection of customer feedback in all its forms.

(Although we can help with this, too, by either leveraging our tools or managing your brand’s tools—for the client above we helped them with set-up and operations management.)

VoC surveys help identify focus areas to make sure you deliver on your brand’s promise. NPS is largely gathered via survey sent through email so having a tool that gives you the flexibility to A/B test communications helps ensure higher engagement rates on the survey. Having a tool that allows for easy reporting to internal teams (or consultants) means everyone in a customer-influencing role can start to identify any gaps. Dedicate time to review survey results as a team to ensure everyone is aligned with the singular focus of improving customer experience.

3. A great tool can only get you so far—the brand must take action to make change.

To act, you need someone on staff (or a partner like ITA Group) who understands how to use data to implement a plan to fix what’s broken. Most positive (and negative) interactions customers experience are directly tied to a behavior demonstrated (or not being demonstrated) by an employee or channel partner. Being able to create a singular focus on this improvement process can really help differentiate a brand.

Data Drives Desired Behaviors From All Audiences

If this seems like a lot, try not to worry. Brands have regular opportunities to infuse things like training and development, process improvements, product and service improvements, customer value proposition evaluation and high customer-touch employee and channel role alignments to the value prop, and incentives to drive desired behaviors from all audiences. And in each of these areas, data can point businesses to which things need the most focus, and can even be modeled out to predict outcomes. This is how brands can continue to improve.

Customer Experience Is a Direct Result of Employee Experience

Brands with highly engaged employees and channel partners are enjoying higher NPS scores, customer satisfaction scores and customer advocacy. Brands who haven’t realized this are floundering with higher turnover, disengaged employees and partners, low revenue, and lower customer advocacy.

Related: ITA Group experts discuss customer experience and employee experience, the root causes of poor CX and how the pandemic has changed brand expectations. Learn more.

Good, clean and complete customer data is data you can act on, turning it into a behavior change or an incremental purchase—or (ideally) both. Here are some tips to consider before leveraging customer data for a targeted customer strategy.

Max Kenkel

Max Kenkel

Max’s favorite work pastime is looking at data and figuring out how companies can monetize it. He even does it with his band, by looking at Spotify heat maps and targeting shows in cities with higher volumes of streaming. He firmly believes that you can make a decision based on intuition, but it’s a lot easier to justify it to the shareholders when you can back it up with data. He really does like talking about leveraging data, and quoting Star Wars.