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.


How to Get VOC Data without a Survey

Surveys are a popular way to get customer feedback.

It's not hard to understand why. Survey are easy to implement. They yield lots of data. Best of all, they produce a metric that can be managed.

Surveys also have their limitations. They rely on our customers' memories, which can sometimes be faulty. They focus primarily on perception, not facts. Surveys can also annoy customers who feel bombarded with these requests.

There's even a term for that last one: survey fatigue.

The good news is there are alternatives. You can gather useful voice of customer (VOC) data without bothering your customers with a survey. Here are five examples:

Contact Type Reports

Contact centers often keep a record of the reasons customers contact them. This can be captured through your CRM system, your phone software, or even an old-fashioned tick sheet.

Monitoring contact type trends helps you quickly spot problems. For example, let's say you notice a spike in calls related to a specific product. You can investigate the problem and quickly diagnose the root cause.

Social Media Monitoring

There's a good chance that people are talking about your company, product, or service on social media. Why not listen to the conversation? You can easily categorize what people are saying to determine if there are opportunities to improve.

There are lots of tools available to help you do this. Your contact center might have these resources already if you are serving customers via social media. You can also check out this list of 10 free social media monitoring tools compiled by Brandwatch.

Text Analysis

Many customer service channels rely on the written word. These include live chat, social media, text, and email. Big companies often employ sophisticated software to analyze the sentiment in customer writing. You can do this on a smaller scale with little budget.

One option is to use a check sheet. You use a check sheet by reading through text and writing down key words as you go. Place a check mark next to a word each time that key word or a similar one is repeated. It goes pretty quickly once you get started - I can typically analyze 250 records in 15 minutes.

Here's an example of a check sheet I prepared using a restaurant's Yelp Reviews:

VOC Check Sheet

Agent Polling

Your agents talk to customers every day. This means they have a good sense of the typical problems and challenges your customers encounter. They may also know a lot of details that wouldn't be collected in a survey.

Here's an exercise to help you capture and act on this data. Call a team meeting and ask agents to brainstorm a list of the top customer service challenges. Prioritize the issues by which ones happen most often and have the biggest impact. Select a couple and work together as a team to find a solution.

Hunt Icebergs

You can learn a lot from an unusual case. Sometimes, a strange problem is a sign of a bigger issue that affects more customers.

One contact center received a single complaint about a product shipped in a box that was too large. On a hunch, the contact center leader decided to follow-up with other customers who had purchased this product. It turned out they had similar feedback too but didn't feel it was worth complaining about.

The contact center leader brought the feedback to the company's shipping and merchandising departments. They worked together to find a way to ship the product in a smaller box. The company ended up saving money on shipping and prevented customers from experiencing a minor irritation.

Capturing VOC

Improving service is the reason we collect VOC data. Surveys can help you do this, but they also have some limitations. (You can learn more about survey limitations by watching this short video.)

Be careful of relying on just one approach. The best VOC programs use a variety of tools to capture data from multiple perspectives.