Published: September 05, 2013 | Comments
There are significantly more than five reasons why you do not want to create a voice of the customer program, but we have to start somewhere. My reasons for saying that you do not want a voice of the customer program are based on what I have learned (and continue to learn) over the past few decades in customer service and contact centers.
But before we get to it, let me quickly create a basis for what I will share. I think it’s best that we start by talking about cakes.
That’s right, anniversary cake to be exact. I recently had the honor of being part of my in-laws' 50th wedding anniversary celebration. What a monumental occasion to have a 50th wedding anniversary. It was incredible to see so many of their friends and family members come to celebrate their life together as husband and wife.
My wife accepted the responsibility of getting the cake for the celebration. The cake she ordered came from one of our favorite bakeries (shout out to Delicious Bakery in Greensboro, NC). The folks at Delicious came through yet again. The cake could have easily been described as a work of art. It was a two-tiered cake that was covered with what seemed like several hundred hand-made flowers. The flowers were a creamy yellow color that was soothing to your eyes and pleasant to look at and, as I found out later, tasted just as beautiful.
When we went to pick up the cake to take it to the reception, the manager Ben was concerned about us driving in a warm car for two hours. He did not want the tiers to separate. So to prevent the top-tier of the cake from shifting, Ben placed three half-inch diameter wooden rods in a triangular pattern. Ben wanted to insure that he created a solid foundation for whatever bumps, turns and changes in speed we would experience. Ben took ownership of this cake to ensure a successful journey.
For me, this story reflects what too many voice of the customer programs lack, which is why you do not want a voice of the customer program - you want something better. No, not cake. We will come back to what you do want in a moment, first let’s review the five reasons you do not want a voice of the customer program:
- Lack of a solid foundation: Many voice of the customer programs just focus on information gathering (data). They do not have a solid foundation for converting from analysis to action. The real value from any customer insight gathering effort must be the resulting change. Customers do not want to be analyzed; they are sharing their perceptions and feelings because they expect you to do something about it. Without a solid foundation focused on change, all of your customer-focused promises will fall apart.
- Not very beautiful: Many voice of the customer programs are fragmented, segmented, and sloppy. Much like making a beautiful cake, this is also an art. It takes special and skilled folks to make it look good. Thinking the unskilled and survey monkeys can make something beautiful will create a different type of monumental occasion which you definitely want to avoid.
- Doesn’t taste good: When cake tastes good, what do you want? Of course, more. Many voice of the customer programs are constructed in a manner that leaves people with a bad taste in their mouth especially when the results from the program become part of their performance measurement. Once this happens they avoid or try to give it to someone else. Eventually it goes stale and is thrown away.
- Shifting tiers: Many voice of the customer programs do not provide clear paths of responsibility so people end up avoiding responsibility at various departments and levels of the organization. If the program is not connected from the top to the bottom, the tiers separate and the us-versus-them spoiler prevails.
- Responsibility for the journey: The path to improve is a journey, not a destination. Many voice of the customer programs are short-sighted activities designed to respond to complaints instead of supporting the path of continuous improvement. With a continuous improvement focus, you are better prepared for whatever bumps, turns and changes in speed you are likely to experience.
This is Cause for Celebration
We all want something better. We also know we need to change our habits to get something better. So to avoid the five reasons above (and many others) with voice of the customer programs, you need to change your mindset and instead think External Quality Monitoring. Don’t think about your customers for a moment, but think instead of yourself. Why do you complete surveys?
If you are like all other humans it is because you want something you did not enjoy to change and you want the things you did enjoy to remain. You are evaluating them and you do not want to be a data point, do you?
So with the External Quality Monitoring mindset, you and everybody else can focus more on specifics and responsibility. The design of insight gathering with this mindset is more linked to outcomes and actions. It also separates out company, agent, and customer responsibilities.
An example of a question that you would not find in an External Quality Monitoring program is taken from an actual VoC airline survey where a question was asked, “Were you satisfied with the comfort of the seat?” So let me ask you. If I was not satisfied with the comfort of the seat, does that mean they'll change the seats on their planes? We all know that the seats are going to be the same on the next 100 flights we take, so that VoC measurement tool just leaves a bad taste in my mouth.