ICMI is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.


Getting Real Value from Your Voice of the Customer Program

What if I told you that you could answer the following questions, with certainty, within your organization?

  • What do my customers want?
  • Why do I lose customers?
  • What improvements should I prioritize?
  • What processes could be improved?

Assuming your organization is anything like every other one in the world, you are eager to know these things -- and that’s where a Voice of the Customer (VoC) program comes in. Creating an effective VoC program isn’t easy, but if you have the desire and energy to make it happen, it is an invaluable tool for helping you get closer to your customers.

So how do you go about it?


First and foremost, you need to know what your customers are saying. You need to tap directly into their words and identify the core issues behind such organizational concerns as:

  • Why are they cancelling?
  • What are they calling back about?
  • What are they unhappy with?
  • How else can we help them?

This can be achieved through surveys and other media, but the most effective and comprehensive method is to simply listen to what your customers say when they reach out to you. For best results, capture enough calls to validate a sample size, ensuring at least a 95% certainty +/- 5%. Capturing and analyzing the right sample enables you to isolate issues with certainty and take the guesswork out of the entire process.


Now that you know what you need to fix, it’s time to fix it. While traditional surveys tend to be big-picture and/or agent-oriented, you may find the root cause of customer dissatisfaction is a mix of product, process and people. For example, you might find issues with marketing, such as confusing promotions. There is a plethora of possible issues that, if discovered, can lead to improvement opportunities. So you must be ready to take action on the intelligence you gather.

The proven way to achieve such improvements is through a high level VOC team that creates a plan of attack, measures the results and coordinates the projects.

Since improvements must often be made within specific areas of your operations, you need a process to drive results and accountability around changes. For many companies, this is the most challenging part of their VOC program.

Operational Buy-In and Accountability

When improvement opportunities are identified, there must be a clear process on how they will be accomplished. It needs to be mapped out, agreed upon and implemented by the VOC team.

The key ingredients are:

  1. Operational Champion: ideally, this is the overall leader at the Director or VP level
  2. Action Plan: a clear process of the actions to be taken, across all departmental levels
  3. Accountability: a clear process of accountability around the process to ensure that it is being followed, and consequences for when it is not.  It is important to keep an ongoing status of overall progress.

Measure and Control

Organizations will often launch a new initiative or process, and then fail to follow up with measuring and tweaking as necessary. All new processes require consistent follow-up to ensure that they ultimately achieve their original objectives.

It is critical that key performance indicators be agreed upon in the beginning and reported upon regularly. For example, if the goal of a project is to improve customer satisfaction, the measures that identify success must represent that goal (i.e. survey results).

Implementing a valuable VOC program is not an easy task. However, companies that succeed can see major business transformation. The best way to get closer to your customers is to listen. Listen intelligently, take action, get buy-in and then measure your success.