This blog was written by Lara Ponomareff of the Customer Contact Council, a sister program of the Board serving customer contact professionals. Some of links below will only be accessible to those at companies that maintain membership with the Council.
Customer voice (VOC) is an extremely powerful tool. It’s not just the raw customer voice, but the trends and data it can contain. Anything from a break in a process flow to an emerging customer need for a new product could be just at your fingertips.
And, as customer service moves away from purely an order-taking, transaction-completing, productivity-based role and grows into a function that adds value to customer experiences, the potential of VOC has only grown. Because, what better way to add value than to supplement market research or R&D and bring customers the next, big thing?
But in reality, all of this can/could/potential business is just that – sure it could happen, but it rarely does.
In fact, while over 96% of customer service’s internal partners say that customer service VOC is important, over 76% of them are not satisfied with the current quality of that VOC. In fact, one of our members likened his efforts to ‘throwing our VOC into a big black hole – no one is listening to us.’
Service organizations that are successful in their VOC efforts – whose internal partners are not only satisfied with the VOC provided but use it when making business decisions, do two things (and don’t do one thing):
- They do point to the root causes of a problem, not merely the symptoms: Internal partners don’t pay attention to VOC analysis when it lists a bunch of customer complaints or issues, but not the reason behind those issues. That customers are calling to cancel their warranty on a product is not helpful – but find out why they are cancelling and you’ll have data that your business partners would probably pay you to have.
- They do focus on problems that are important to their internal business partners: Spending your time and resources convincing your business partners that something is a problem is an uphill battle. Focus on what is within your control and the areas your internal partners care about the most first to get some momentum going. (MREB members, our work on identifying business drivers will help you focus on what’s most important.)
- They don’t allow their VOC scope to creep outside their ‘sweet spot’: In order to have the time to dig into root causes, leading service organizations deliberately narrow the focus of their VOC efforts. They use VOC for what it is best positioned for – fixing customer-stated problems (since customers are calling to talk about their problems on a daily basis), rather than chasing new product development. (MREB members, this same issue creeps into Research’s use of social media. Check out our new whitepaper, Unlocking Insight from Social Media, to see the importance of a focused hypothesis)
On that last point – seems to me like we may be seeing a bit of scope creep as customer service’s role has inevitably changed (and grown) over the years. We were asked to do more, so we did. But, what actually should customer service to be responsible for – and what should be out of scope? VOC is one potential example – and it’ll be interesting to see how it plays out.
But, I’m wondering – do you think the roles and responsibilities of the service organization have changed? And are these new responsibilities reasonable or not? Do we need to re-define the scope of what service can/cannot do?