Published on July 15, 2021 by Avinash Saxena
Unlocking organisational success with the Voice of the Customer programme (an 8-part series)
This is part 2 of 8 our comprehensive series of blogs on the Voice of Customer.
Stay tuned for more blogs.
We learnt quite a bit about Voice of the Customer (VOC) programmes in our previous blog. In this one, we highlight what differentiates VOC from other data-sourcing mechanisms and why implementing a VOC programme should be a high priority for marketing/customer service executives.
The pace of change embodied by heightened customer expectations, technological advancements, network enhancements, and large-scale innovations has accelerated recently, shaping business decisions and strategy. Data is crucial to any decision making, and its importance cannot be overemphasised. What we need to remember, however, is that not all data is equally important or useful.
Having upgraded their data-collection processes, organisations are tapping large amounts of first-party, second-party, and third-party data 1from different sources and feeding it into data management platforms (such as customer data platforms and digital management platforms) or data lakes. They then apply different methodologies of cleansing and analysing to obtain meaningful insights — often in real time. Data engineering and AI/ML applications have made it possible to draw conclusions or trends from these massive datasets, something that is nearly impossible or impractical for humans to undertake. We endorse these approaches, but with a strong bias towards first-party data over other types of data.
Why is first-party/primary data the most important data source?
First-party data is collected by the channels and resources an organisation uses. It is largely generated through marketing campaigns, website-monitoring tools, surveys and other means. The major advantages are reliability, accuracy and confidentiality.
Customer surveys, an important medium of collecting first-party data, facilitate direct input and feedback from customers. Given the opportunity to respond on products, pricing, servicing, and many other factors, customers are likely to provide genuine feedback to organisations. Methods of conducting these surveys vary across industries and firms. Generally, a B2C firm would rely on online methods to collect feedback on products, services and customer service. Depending on the size of customer base, the amount of data collected could be large and organisations may have to apply automated ways of deriving results and insights. For B2B firms, the number of customers would likely be smaller, and they would also usually have a list of priority/major customers. Hence, it may be possible for them to talk directly to these clients and address their concerns.
The type of data collected through these surveys also matters. While quantitative data based on simple ratings could let an organisation know “how” it is performing, open and qualitative feedback shows it “why’” customers feel that way. A number of customer experience management platforms provide text analytics capabilities that can be applied to identify key strengths and weaknesses from this feedback. However, the efficacy is yet to surpass the ability of human analysts who are much better at understanding the context, tone, underlying issues, and even sarcastic feedback — at least for now. Depending on the required effort, complexity of data and available resources, a mixed approach may yield the best results.
Irrespective of the type of data, organisations should find the insights very useful, as the underlying data comes directly from customers. It would then be up to the particular organisation how to effectively tap this data and utilise it. How organisations can put this data to effective use will be covered in a subsequent blog in this series.
Different survey feeds for different functions
A VoC programme usually encompasses a number of surveys aimed at collecting different types of data pertaining to different stages of the customer lifecycle. These may include the following:
- Website content feedback: Useful for marketing and design teams
- Sales demo feedback/win-loss surveys: These are conducted to understand what an organisation did well and what it did wrong to generate a particular outcome (win/loss). These surveys provide useful information on aspects, such as the performance of sales teams and pre-sales teams, products/solutions, pricing and competition
- Onboarding feedback: Useful for an organisation to understand its performance during customer onboarding in terms of factors, such as time taken, communication provided, skill, and issues encountered by clients
- Product feedback: Direct questions to the end users of a product on, for example, the product’s usefulness, features and performance. However, it’s important to keep in mind that customers themselves may not always fully understand the market, e.g., Nokia customers would not have asked for a touchscreen smartphone in 2005–07 (and they didn’t!), but Apple launched the iPhone and won the market
- Relationship/net promoter score (NPS) survey: This survey solicits feedback from customers on their overall experience with the brand. The NPS score is often considered to be the most important parameter that indicates the strength of customer relationships. It also serves as an early warning system that can help an organisation take steps in a timely manner to win over its ‘at-risk’ customer base
- Transactional survey/customer effort score: Obtained after each customer interaction (e.g., support, issue resolution or query), to help determine how satisfactory the customer service function is
- Attrition survey: In case a customer does leave, it would still be valuable for an organisation to know why the relationship was terminated
All these types of feedback enable an organisation to identify the areas that need corrective action. It could move a customer up the NPS ladder by addressing their pain points, which would result in increased loyalty, or by enhancing a product to better align with customer and market needs. These are just a few examples of how such data can help an organisation.
An organisation could fall prey to its own success if it becomes complacent. Past success is no guarantee of success in the future — this is even more relevant now, when the competitive landscape is changing ever so rapidly. A number of examples illustrate this — from Kodak to MySpace, Pan-Am and Sears — and it happens to many more organisations than we think. A Bain & Co. study shows that while 80% of organisations believe they offer superior propositions, customers of only 8% of them agree 2. Hence, it is imperative that organisations deploy VOC programmes to obtain first-hand client input and incorporate it in their decision making and strategies.
How Acuity Knowledge Partners can help
Acuity Knowledge Partners has been providing research and insights support to diverse stakeholders in the technology sector — tech corporates, tech advisory firms, and tech-focused investors — for over two decades. Equipped with a 360° view, we understand how customer data can be captured and analysed, and how the story emanating thereof can be leveraged to achieve better business outcomes. We help Fortune 500 technology corporations, mid-tier firms, and start-ups leverage customer feedback on people, products, and processes to remain flexible and better serve their customers.
About the Author
Avinash Saxena, Delivery Manager, Consulting Practice, has over nine years of work experience in consulting, market research, and project management. Before Acuity Knowledge Partners, he has worked with Capgemini, Infosys, and Persistent Systems. His expertise areas include business strategy, emerging technologies, innovation for the financial services sector — particularly banking, payments, and FinTechs. Currently, he is a strategic consultant for one of the leading global financial solutions provider firms. Avinash has done MBA from NMIMS Mumbai and B.Tech. from VNIT Nagpur.