Recording Voice of Customer (V0C) is Important, But Are You Listening?

Nathalie Schooling

CEO at nlighten.
An experienced strategist, trainer and customer experience improvement specialist, Nathalie has more than 25 years of experience in the customer service industry.
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Before you can improve customer experience, it helps to understand what that experience actually is, and what your customer wants it to be. So, how do you find out? You need to be getting real feedback from your customers and translating what they say about you into needs. This is known as Voice of Customer research.

What is Voice of Customer?

Voice of Customer (VoC) means exactly what it says – what your customer says about you. There are many VoC methodologies, and many ways to gather data, but very often these days businesses rely on technology to collect data in a standardised, easily comparable format. So, instead of meaning everything your customer thinks and feels about your brand and their experience of it, these days it often just means how they “rate” you.

After a customer service call, you will find you are often invited to take part in a survey.  “Were you satisfied? Press 1 for yes and 2 for no. How do you rate your call today out of 5?”

After an online purchase or enquiry, you may find you are invited to take part in an online survey so we can improve our service to you. “How many stars do you give your experience?”

Do these standardised, contrived online or telephone surveys really give your business an accurate insight into what your customer thinks or what they have to say about you? Does your 3-star rating really give you any kind of actionable insights into how you could turn that 3 into a 5?

So often, large to medium businesses give themselves a pat on the back and think they’re at the cutting edge of customer service when they have a Voice of Customer programme. But so seldom does this programme achieve anything more than checking a box because they have to “do VoC”. It’s just data for data’s sake. Little to no substantive, valuable information is gleaned from your effort and expense.

Collecting VoC is not enough – you need to listen

The point of VoC is to listen to your customer, translate what they say into wants or needs, and then discover what the requirements are to meet those needs and turn those into business objectives. The aim of the game is to give your customer what they want, often before even they realise they want it.

At nlighten, we believe that to remain relevant you need to actually talk to and engage with your clients, not just record them.

Where to look for VoC data

Online or telephone surveys aren’t enough. Offering your customers a formulaic method to rate your business doesn’t give them a chance to share their voice with you. You need to invite welcome feedback at all stages of your customer journey, but often the richest sources of VoC data can be indirect.

The first source, though secondhand, is your frontline staff. We have said before that businesses so often neglect to gather feedback from the personnel who are customer-facing – remember my frustrating experience at the Lancome counter a few months ago?

The people who are speaking with your customers every day, who receive firsthand soundbites from a spectrum of customers, whether it’s frustration, gratitude, praise, indifference or rage – your staff face the brunt of it all. They should be recording noteworthy interactions.

In the B2C world, an often overlooked source that can be mined for rich VoC data is social media. You learn a huge amount about what your customers really think about you by eavesdropping on what they say about you behind your back. People also turn to social media platforms for sounding boards these days, leveraging the power of the hashtag to promote public outrage or sympathy and get results, often before they have even picked up the phone to the customer service department. Businesses face trial by social media all the time. You can’t hide anywhere.

A truly valuable, actionable Voice of Customer programme involves mining VoC data from a variety of sources, but unless the outcome is a collection of authentic anecdotes that give you insights about where you are going wrong and right, then where’s the point? Remember, you need to be listening, not just recording.

How does your business approach gaining client or customer insights in order to remain relevant to their needs?


View the previous nlighten article by Nathalie Schooling: 5 Ways to Make Sure Consumers Choose You

nlighten. enhancing customer experience: www.nlighten.co.za


Customer Experience Masterclass: Get results by thinking like a customer experience pro – Invest a day in our value-packed interactive CX coaching. The quality of your customers’ experiences defines your success. | CPT – 15 August 2019 | JHB – 9 October 2019 view more