It is early summer 2018, organisations have more and more opportunities to adopt increasingly sophisticated ways to understand their customers whether its AI from language processing (such as chatbot feedback and text analytics) to data analytics (such as business intelligence and predictive analytics). Whilst organisations in the era of customer experience are leveraging technology to become more profitable, those wanting to keep the consumer perspective centre stage need to be listening to the Voice of the Customer (VoC). Here we point out the effectiveness of VoC market research programmes.


Making Voice of the Customer (VoC) market research work for you

VoC programmes can be problematic, for customers and organisations alike. Customers giving feedback might, for instance, say one thing but do another, while organisations often do not have any evidence to prove the links between VoC and revenues or retention.

For customers, having a voice really matters: they want to know you’re listening. They may be frustrated by your customer service and sales processes. How easy do they find your online self-service? Their views on these and other questions should stir even the most reluctant organisations to listen to their customers to see what needs improving.

Relatively new measurements such as social media analysis should be integral to any VoC programme. A combination of tools can also be valuable to capture smart data (third-party review sites, sensory insight, etc). But check that the ‘old science’ still applies to these new tools. Are you making incorrect assumptions (are those who post on social media typical of those who do not)? Have the probability ranges been estimated? Are there hidden biases in the samples?

Beware that ‘correlation is not causation’ e.g. an Instagram post may or may have caused purchase. Smart data can be so much more revealing than big data.

Customer experience statistics

Many organisations mistakenly believe that the more customer data and statistics they gather, the less expertise they need to form considered and sound decisions. Moving from data analytics to visualisation requires experienced individuals to make judgements about how best to meet customer needs and maximise business potential. Put simply, it’s not just about getting more and more customers on your database, it’s about how well you know them and how you tailor your products, services and delivery channels to their needs.

What is the purpose of market research?

The main purpose of VoC market research is to turn market data and insights into action. Market research informs both the strategy and operational functions. Frontline customer service employees need to add to the market research process by sharing their front-line observations about customers’ behaviours and context. Also, it is best to share the insights with some of those in your organisation who think differently and may have a unique interpretation of the findings and suggested actions. When selecting Champions of Change choose those who are ready and keen to manage the unknowns of tomorrow. For qualitative market research to be effective be sure to put in place relevant KPIs and incentivise those people who use VoC insights to make a positive difference.

Towards real-time insight

The customer service marketplace is going beyond the convenience of instant solutions through apps and self-service. AI can simplify the path to convenience providing real time personalised assistance when purchasing e.g. using virtual reality as part of the ecommerce customer journey. Innovative brands are finding new ways to engage by blending digital and physical experiences such as digital signage, dynamic videos and interactive experiences.

As an example, Siemens Healthcare uses dashboards to monitor all the devices sold into hospitals so that any failure of service can be detected in real time. Rolls Royce has TotalCare where engine performance data is beamed back to Rolls Royce directly from flights – predicting engineering problems and minimising down time.

From feedback to dialogue

Customer feedback platforms such as Trustpilot can be unfair, pointless or sometimes misguided. The challenge for your VoC programme is to shift from one-way feedback to genuine two-way dialogue. Davies Hickman provides VoC programmes and many organisations are doing just that, finding new ways of co-working with their customers and responding to their feedback. As with many other spheres of life, improving a two-way relationship means both sides being prepared to change.