The 3 Key Steps to Gain Actionable Data From Voice of Customer Programs

voice of customer program

I have sat in on several discussions where CX insight teams ask their database counterparts, “What voice of customer (VoC) information can you provide us?” And the answer promptly comes back, “Well what do you need?”

A natural reaction is to think that, I can’t tell you what I need if I don’t know what you have. However, I do understand it must be challenging for a data team sitting on tens/hundreds of variables to be able to give you a complete roster of their data warehouse. And if they do, the likely next question will give them a ton of additional work to define those variables in a way that business teams can understand and make use of them.

Of course, the aforementioned gap is not about the language spoken by different functions within the business but rather the nature of the beast – the amount of data that’s preventing meaningful and productive conversations from taking place.

The issue of the quantity of customer information is exacerbated by the fact that it is often fragmented due to it being collected from multiple sources and not well defined at the source of data collection.

So what is the solution to this problem? Focus.

Focus on quality data samples that would allow for an almost myopic, but manageable view of the data to be able to refine how it is collected, define it in clear terms and then tie it to customer feedback data to provide a more holistic picture of the business.

This is easier said than done, but the trick is to approach the challenge in a systematic and hierarchical way; potentially as outlined below.

Step 1: Strategically Define and Capture Customer Data

You need to make your big data smaller. Identify the one or two, over-arching objective(s) of your organization. Is it curbing churn, increasing profitability, reducing costs, increase sales, a combination of a couple of these or something else altogether?

Your first step is understanding how the data team calculates and stores this information. You may find that this step is actually harder than it sounds.

While your organization may have well-defined goals, in speaking to your data teams you may find that:

A. The information is not tracked at all.

B. The information is collected and calculated in the same way regardless of the differences across your several customer segments. For example, a tech company’s cost to serve “Cautious Customers” may involve different factors from the cost to serve “Tech Enthusiasts,” and it should be incorporated as such.

C. The key metrics are being captured, but incorrectly defined. For example, movers being calculated in voluntary churn calculations for internet subscribers or grocery store shoppers.

It benefits greatly to go through the exercise of identifying and defining the variables you need to track organizational performance. This would also give your data teams the additional context of what needs to be tracked and why, even if you need to start from scratch.

Step 2: Define KPIs For Each Customer Experience Channel

Define key metrics of success (based on customer behavior) for each of the channels that you will be evaluating as part of your feedback program.

The important part of this step is defining metrics that are possible to calculate at the customer level (or that are already collected reliably), that are simple, measurable and less subject to interpretation.

How do you know you have the right metrics? That can be determined in the next step.

Step 3: Validate Your Data

Once you have a reliable way to define and measure channel metrics as well as over-arching company metrics, it becomes imperative to assess which channel element has the greatest impact on overall organizational performance and, in-turn which customer initiatives are most influential in driving that positive cascading change at the channel level.
To be able to do this, you need to:

  1. Compare how changes in your channel performance (in the form of customer satisfaction) affect changes in your channel key metrics. Of course, these changes can only be brought about by customer initiatives after addressing customer needs and concerns.
  2. Compare how channel KPI improvements relate to changes in overall goals related to churn/profitability/spend, etc.

These steps will help tie your feedback programs to empirical outcomes and help quantify an ROI in terms of a measure that is most important to your organization.

If you haven’t yet reached the validation stage, don’t fret. You are not alone as it’s a work in progress for many organizations. On the road of information overdrive, it may be helpful to stop and ask: what do we have, how is it defined and how am I going to tie it to feedback data which is going to tell me how to elevate my customers’ experiences. And if the answer is insufficient or tenuous, then it may be well worth the extra effort of erasing the board and starting fresh.

What is your experience and which step is more challenging for your organization? Please, let us know.

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