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Let Your Customers Speak

Here are a few simple tips to get the most out of your contact centers voice of the customer (VOC) program.

In the last month or so, I experienced some voice of the customer (VOC) processes in action, one great and one … not so great. I’ll share them here along with a some tips on getting the most out of your center’s VOC program.

I called a credit card company to inquire about a charge I didn’t recognize on my personal account. Actually, I called several times … the phone rang and rang with no answer. I finally called a different department, where (to the company’s credit) a commercial account manager knew exactly where to direct me. The call center agent picked up on the first ring. "Are you guys super busy?" I asked. "No," said the rep, "In fact, it’s been so slow today, they’re thinking of sending us home early." I let the agent know what I’d experienced throughout the morning trying to get through. "I can help with your account," she said, "but would you mind if I put you on hold for one second while I pass along the issue about the phone lines?" And a moment later, she was back with a big thank-you for the information and some excellent service on my primary issue.

That's a great example of fast action on customer feedback!

Now, the other company, a department store, didn’t quite seem to get it. I first went to their website, no luck. Then, I called. Their IVR couldn’t quite understand my request and kept asking me to repeat the entire customer identification process. Finally, I chatted an agent, who answered my question competently, but when I told her about the website and the IVR, all she said was "weird." So, I completed the online satisfaction survey after the transaction. First, in describing the issue, I apparently exceeded the character limit. Well, I edited and edited, but not knowing the character limit, it took a while. I thought I might get a note back that said, at least, that they’d recorded the issue (I filled out the box dedicated to things that didn’t go perfectly). Nothing.

In my opinion, that’s a great example of an organization working on VOC, but not quite "getting it."

So, based on these experiences, here are some tips for all of you out there who want to start or improve a VOC program:

Collect voice of the customer input whenever and wherever you can. Whether it’s an email, web-based or telephone survey after the fact – or even a social media post, your call center can be the eyes and ears for your organization. Customer analytics solutions are another good way to monitor the customer experience.

It’s important to point out here, too, that channel switching is a form of VOC. When a customer switches channels for a single inquiry, they’re likely expressing a problem with one of your channels.

Close the feedback loop. If the customer takes the time to let an organization know about their experience, let them know that they've been heard and that (when appropriate), you’ve acted on their feedback.

This can be as simple as an automated reply that thanks the customer for their positive feedback or acknowledges that they checked a problem box. (Sorry this experience wasn’t perfect. Thanks for alerting us to the issue so we can try to resolve it.)

Share voice of the customer intelligence with the larger organization. Customer feedback sometimes raises awareness of problems or issues that the call center can’t control, such as a product defect or a process issue. The contact center can still take charge of customer satisfaction by passing this information along (in a meaningful and concise manner) to other departments and corporate management. A positive side effect of that type of communication is that it will support the contact center’s role as a strategic partner in the organization.