Voice of the Customer

In the connected world of the 21st century, the voice of the customer has never been louder. Every individual has their own platform on which they can broadcast their opinion to the outside world, be it via social media, printed reviews or online blogging. For customer experience management brands, it can be hard to tune into these sounds. Such is the amplitude of differing tones, the voice can become distorted and fail to translate into anything tangible or substantial. And yet, as we move into 2016, understanding the thoughts and emotions of the customer is more important than ever.

So how is a brand expected to disassemble and analyse the cacophony of voices that all shout at the same time, often about different things, in a variety of different languages? How is it supposed to deal with the sheer volume of customer opinions, and identify the most important issues raised?

A strong voice of the customer programme can help companies to make the best out of the data they receive. Typically, these programmes can:

  • Streamline customer feedback using research techniques, analytics, and specialised software
  • Ensure that feedback is delivered in real-time so that brands are best positioned to resolve issues quickly
  • Use clear dashboards to garner data from multiple feeds and sources, whether over the phone, online, or face-to-face
  • Pull sources together into a unified framework, allowing business leaders to focus their investments and resources
  • Provide operational analytics that allow store managers, channel managers and other frontline leaders to prioritise tasks

If a company chooses to operate without such a programme, it runs the risk of ‘groping in the dark’, and of making short-term decisions that might not be the best ones for the brand, or indeed, for the customer.

Torsten Fritz, Head of Quantitative Research at KPMG Nunwood, likens it to a small child overhearing snippets of their parents’ conversation. “Imagine you hear: ‘[…] problem […] boarding school […] sort it out […],'” he says. “Now, as a child, hearing just these three parts of a conversation, you can imagine the reaction it causes. Your behaviour as a child would from now on – at least for some time – be influenced by your understanding that your parents want to send you to boarding school.”

As Torsten goes on to explain, it transpires that the parents were actually talking about something they heard on the news, and don’t actually intend to send their child away. “It means that the two weeks of being on our best behaviour to avoid being sent to boarding school were two weeks of lost fun and excitement,” he states. “Probably an affordable loss for a child. Changing organisational processes and behaviours based on incomplete information is likely to be much more costly.”

This is as good a reason as any to master voice of the customer in 2016. And yet on top of that, there is the stark reality that many other companies have already put these programmes to good use, and therefore have a competitive advantage over the brands that have not. One such example is a major British airline, whose customer experience was heavily influenced by operating factors, such as the availability of aircraft, passenger numbers, and even the weather. In order to cut through this complexity, the company utilised analytical models and text analysis techniques, unifying the data into a single guiding framework and helping the brand to relate to its customers in a meaningful, focussed way. Subsequently, the organisation enjoyed a rapid ascent up the CEE rankings, and saw significant increases in its operating profit and passenger numbers.

The voice of the customer, therefore, has to be a top priority for any company hoping for success in 2016. “Almost 9 in 10 consumers say they would pay more for a superior customer experience,” notes Torsten Fritz. “The best VoC programmes can help brands to achieve this, affording them with a clear understanding of what a superior, omnichannel experience looks like at key stages of the customer journey.”

For more customer experience insight visit the KPMG Nunwood CEM blog.


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