Customer Loyalty is Almost Dead: Can VoC Programs Save It?


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Just because your cus­tomers are using your phone ser­vice now, or com­ing to your restau­rant for Sun­day brunches these last few months, or have been the first peo­ple in line to buy your lat­est gad­get model, doesn’t mean they will keep doing so. It’s sim­ply fool­ish to expect it from this gen­er­a­tion of con­sumers. Cus­tomer loy­alty may not be dead, but it cer­tainly is not as strong as it had been in the past. Cus­tomers are more empow­ered, and your com­peti­tors con­tribute to that empow­er­ment.

Con­sider T-Mobile’s entice­ment to “break up with your car­rier” cam­paign. The pro­mo­tion invites poten­tial cus­tomers to switch to T-Mobile by offer­ing to pay for the early ter­mi­na­tion fees imposed by the prospect’s cur­rent provider. Ter­mi­na­tion fees are not cheap and deter most con­sumers from switch­ing even if they’re unhappy with fre­quent dropped calls or weak sig­nals. Intro­duced in early 2014, T-Mobile’s rev­o­lu­tion­ary promo just “un-leashed you and yours from the old rules of wire­less for­ever,” and fur­ther eroded the already very frag­ile state of cus­tomer loy­alty to net­work providers.

Demys­ti­fy­ing the Customer

With so many options avail­able for the cus­tomer, the bal­ance of power has shifted from the seller to the cus­tomer. How­ever, despite the many tempt­ing offers out there vying for the customer’s atten­tion, the con­tem­po­rary cus­tomer is not as fickle as one might think. There is one thing that remains con­stant in cus­tomers’ set of pref­er­ences: the need to feel val­ued as a per­son and not treated as just another account num­ber. To meet this expec­ta­tion, orga­ni­za­tions need to get into the customer’s head.

The cus­tomer is a com­plex crea­ture with var­ied demands, pref­er­ences, and expec­ta­tions. It’s no won­der there are as many meth­ods avail­able to extract this infor­ma­tion from them. Tra­di­tion­ally, there are mailed-in, online and phone sur­veys, and focus groups to get their pulse. Now, thanks to the mete­oric rise of social media over the last decade, we can add social lis­ten­ing to that list. It is unso­licited feed­back freely expressed through the social media space, and quite use­ful in get­ting can­did and uncen­sored opinions.

Addi­tion­ally, there’s a con­cept that’s gained a foothold in recent years: Voice of the Cus­tomer (VoC), a mar­ket research tech­nique, which accord­ing to Ernan Roman, author of the Voice of Cus­tomer Rela­tion­ship Research, uses an “in-depth process of cap­tur­ing a customer’s expec­ta­tions, pref­er­ences and aversions.”

The Long and Short of VoC Programs

VoC pro­grams take the tra­di­tional sur­vey method to the next level by tak­ing into account the whole cus­tomer expe­ri­ence, and not just poll the customer’s feed­back at the end of a spe­cific transaction.

A good VoC strat­egy puts a for­mal sys­tem in place to cap­ture, man­age, and act on cus­tomer feed­back to con­struct an organization’s con­cept of what the cus­tomer needs, wants and expects. It then takes this cus­tomer intel to guide man­age­ment into mak­ing intel­li­gent deci­sions that shape strate­gic plans and prod­uct devel­op­ment ini­tia­tives, which will ulti­mately impact the customer.

Your call may be recorded for qual­ity assur­ance and train­ing purposes.

When you call in to cus­tomer ser­vice you’ll often hear an auto­matic announce­ment inform­ing you that the call will be recorded. This is per­haps the most lit­eral exam­ple of Voice of the Cus­tomer because it is the customer’s actual voice that’s being studied.

Many call cen­ters inte­grate recorded calls to their quality-assurance process. Actual cus­tomer voices, includ­ing voice inflec­tions, pro­vide a more com­plete pic­ture of the expe­ri­ence. Trends can like­wise be estab­lished from these calls, espe­cially when the types of calls, the key­words used and the issues raised spike in a given period. In prod­uct launches, for exam­ple, orga­ni­za­tions get imme­di­ate feed­back about how cus­tomers feel about a cer­tain prod­uct fea­ture once the sup­port phones start ring­ing. But, it’s not enough that the orga­ni­za­tion becomes aware of what the calls are about. For the insights to be mean­ing­ful, they need to be deliv­ered to key peo­ple in the orga­ni­za­tion to sig­nif­i­cantly improve prod­uct research and devel­op­ment, design rel­e­vant cus­tomer sup­port train­ing mod­ules, and coach reps on the floor.


There are quite a num­ber of good VoC pro­grams in the mar­ket and one may be more suit­able to your needs than the other. If and when your orga­ni­za­tion decides to embark on a VoC pro­gram, your goal is to have a com­plete pic­ture of what great cus­tomer ser­vice looks like from the per­spec­tive of your cus­tomer. Then take that insight to con­struct a map for how your orga­ni­za­tion can pro­vide the exact brand of ser­vice your cus­tomers demand.

Ulti­mately, the end result is to build your capa­bil­ity to hang on to the last shreds of loy­alty you can rea­son­ably expect from the empow­ered customer.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Jodi Beuder
We help organizations create a positive connection between customers and brands. We promote synergy through integration as it builds on the decades of collective history of renowned expertise. MHI Global is your comprehensive source for customer-management excellence solutions to compete in today's ever-changing, customer-centric environment.


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