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.


Think BIG: How the Voice of the Customer Helps the Contact Center Drive the End-to-End Customer Experience

Most call center directors view voice of the customer as feedback on how the CSR performed.  This is "little voc" that is internally focused.  "Big VOC" describes how the company delivered on the end-to-end customer experience.   Leveraging the Big VOC provides a bottom-line impact 10-20 times the impact of simply improving contact handling.  It's also an opportunity for the call center director to increase their influence while reducing workload and CSR frustration.  Invest in analysis and you can become the lead consultant to the COO and key functional executives on customer experience.

Big VOC's impact is on the rest of the company.  Most customer problems are never reported to the service function but still do huge damage to loyalty, revenue and word of mouth.  These impacts are important to both marketing and finance.  Further, 30 percent of contact center workload is preventable and another 30 percent can predictable.  The VOC allows identification of those opportunities as well as demonstration of the revenue and word of mouth impact of the contact center.  The contact center director, working with customer insights, can become the lead consultant, showing the rest of the company how to improve satisfaction and loyalty as well as revenue.

There are five keys to successfully leverage the VOC:

  • Understand the full range of causes of customer dissatisfaction.  For instance, customers usually cause 20-30% of all their own problems.  Proactively warning customers prevents unpleasant surprises and reduces service workload.  
  • Create a unified picture of the CE by combining contact data with survey data and operational data.  The unified picture which includes operational data is much more credible to internal skeptics.  It also allows you to estimate the total number of customers actually encountering the problem.  Survey data allows you to estimate the impact of the problems on loyalty.
  • Quantify the revenue and word of mouth damage of customer problems and questions.  The revenue damage is usually ten to twenty times the cost of handling the problem.  This allows you to make a much more compelling case for investment that will be supported by both Marketing and Finance.
  • Package the data in a compelling and action provoking way.  No one wants to read long reports.  The VOC should identify three opportunities, the monthly revenue and word of mouth cost of inaction, a suggested plan of action, and which function should take the lead.
  • Make your internal clients look good. As a consultant, you learn never to embarrass your internal client, e.g. the recipients of the VOC report.  Help them devise solutions and help pilot test them and let your client get the credit.  Soon, most executives will look to you for advice on improving the CE – then you're on your way to becoming the Director of Customer Experience.

With this VOC you can help the company anticipate customer needs and become proactive.  This proactive principle is what I call psychic pizza-- delivering the pizza (or information or service) before the customer asks for it.   Proactive response is one third as expensive when compared to reactive response.  This is because you deliver information on your terms than researching the inquiry and then responding to the customer.

You can be proactive-- publish answers to your top five customer issues on the home page of your website.  Most customers go to the website before calling.  Further, you can warn customers about a problem they will probably encounter before they have it.   For example, based on smart meter-based energy consumption data, SoCal Edison emailed 30,000 customers that their bill would probably be higher than they expected and included tips for handling the problem.  Calls with questions about the bill declined double digits (compared to a control group) and satisfaction rose over 20 percent.   Talk time on the calls that did occur was half as long.

In summary, the VOC when applied across the company can elevate the role of the contact center-- from complaint center to lead consultant on the customer experience.  Join my pre-workshop with Lynn Holmgren of Millicom Cellular at Contact Center Demo and Conference and learn how to build such a strategic VOC process and use it to move from firefighting to anticipatory, preventive service.

More Resources