Forrester® Research interviewed Beyond the Arc about best practices for Voice of the Customer (VOC) programs to improve customer experience. The resulting article, “How to Build Your Voice of the Customer Program” featured insights from several companies and highlighted key building blocks and goals for constructing a strong and effective VOC program.

Building your Voice of the Customer program is like constructing a building. It takes careful design and strategic planning, as well as taking stock of your tools and resources. Here are some important things to consider before taking that first step.

Design:  Center on the essential activities

An effective Voice of the Customer program employs an ongoing cycle of strategic activities that, when executed well, can help you gain the maximum value from your efforts. Design your VOC program around the following strategies:

  • Listen:  Develop methods that enable you to capture customer feedback across channels and lines of business through surveys, email, in-person interactions and call centers, as well as social media.
  • Interpret:  Analyze feedback and make it available to business units across your company.
  • Act:  Act on VOC insights by making improvements to resolve pain points and better meet customer needs.
  • Monitor:  Track your progress by measuring the impact of customer experience improvements and how well your efforts are meeting key business objectives.

Blueprint: Plan your Voice of the Customer program around action

Customer listening is great; but if you don’t take action on what you’re learning, you won’t see the ROI. Before you start incorporating more data sources as listening posts, first take the time to analyze and take action with data you’ve already collected, and monitor the results of your efforts.

Your blueprint should take a systematic approach that enables you to create repeatable processes that sustain your VOC program over time. Look at the teams, tools, and technologies you’re using to collect, analyze, and report on customer findings, and track the resources and requirements needed to optimize them. This plan can help prepare you to branch out and establish broader, long term goals for your VOC program.

Construction: Begin with a strong foundation

Building an effective Voice of the Customer program requires constructing a strong foundation that starts small and accommodates growth. Think of your VOC program as a constantly evolving resource: you’ll start with some basics such as using survey data to fix “low-hanging fruit” to improve customer experience, maybe piloting your efforts in one area of the business. As your VOC program matures, you can take on additional data sources including unstructured comments from social media, which can provide a wealth of valuable insights. Eventually you should consider centralizing your efforts for a more holistic view of the customer experience across your organization. And ultimately, you’ll want a program that also captures employee feedback, as building a customer-focused company culture is a key driver in delivering exceptional customer experience.

A structure for success

Building a successful Voice of the Customer program enables you to leverage customer feedback to really understand what’s working for your organization and what isn’t, resolve issues before they escalate, and turn negative feedback into brand loyalty. Remember, doing what’s right for the customer is often doing what’s right for the business. Happier customers and greater efficiencies can lead to reduced costs and more profitable relationships.