Voice of Customer 2.0 = Acting on Feedback, Creating Business Value


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I know, that “2.0” thing has been overdone. It’s been used to signify the next generation of the Internet (Web 2.0), collaboration (Enterprise 2.0) and much more.

When it comes to Voice of Customer (VoC), however, I’d like to take a different tack this time. It’s true that VoC efforts have changed in recent years from being mainly about surveys to incorporating more types of feedback (behavioral, social, etc.). See the 6 feedback dimensions in this diagram I created a couple of years ago.

But that’s not really what “next-generation” VoC is about. No, VoC 2.0 is about actually getting business value from customer feedback.

In our most recent CX Forum webinar, this issue was brought to light early on by Claire Sporton of Confirmit in this slide. Forrester Research found that only 48% of respondents “systematically drive action based on VoC program insights.”

In fact, another study by Maritz Research found more than two-thirds of blue-chip companies can’t effectively convert customer feedback into actions to fix problems, create new solutions and improve the customer experience. Wow.

I can confidently predict that no action leads to no business results. A poll with our webinar audience confirmed these troubling statistics: 48% said their organization was “struggling to translate VoC feedback into business value.”

What business value, you ask? Well, our audience poll revealed the top 5 potential VoC benefits were:

  1. improve processes (65%)
  2. reduce customer churn (59%)
  3. improve products and services (48%)
  4. increase employee engagement (45%)
  5. support brand promise (41%)

Now, this is not a scientific study and YMMV. Still, these are high-impact potential benefits that VoC programs could drive, but don’t about half the time. What a huge wasted opportunity.

What is the answer? Is supporting new channels, upgrading to latest EFM technology or finding that perfect loyalty metric the key to success?

No. Our audience found the three biggest VoC obstacles were:

  1. Top management support (61%)
  2. VoC program leadership (39%)
  3. ROI / benefits (32%)

CEM expert Maz Iqbal of Bold Intent spoke about top three causes of VoC failure based on his real-world experience. Essentially: 1) businesses are doing well enough so leadership is not motivated to change; 2) lack of emotional impact, and 3) a clash between company and customer priorities.

If top management doesn’t “get” why listening to the voice of customer is good for business, and the company is doing ok anyway, it may be difficult to move forward. With any change you need a “burning platform” to get things moving. Building small pilot projects and proving the ROI could help light a fire, according to Claire.

But part of the secret to getting support is to get senior leaders (the “Tops” as Maz likes to call them) more emotionally connected with customers. Face it, many business decisions are made because a leader believes it’s the right thing to do, and spreadsheets are used to build a rational argument after the direction is set.

Instead of presenting more numbers and elaborate charts, have top execs listen to call recordings, read social media comments or (gasp) actually spend time on the front line with customers. You know, actually listen to real customers!

Both Claire and Maz shared stories of companies where senior leaders were engaged and committed to listening to, and acting upon, customer feedback. That’s the only way you’ll get real business value and achieve Voice of Customer 2.0.

If you’re struggling with your VoC program, invest an hour to listen to the sage advice from our CX Forum speakers. Audio and slides are available for download here (free registration required).


  1. Hi Bob. Good assessment of VOC 2.0. As you know I spent a few frustrating years promoting the idea of “clienteering” as a catch all term for the new skills and processes associated with listening to and responding to customer feedback. Listening to customers is a key skill for businesses trying to cope with the customer who is now more knowledgable, fickle, vocal and connected than ever before. The problem is that we’ve been doing things “to” customers (marketing and selling) for so long that we’ve forgotten how to do things “with” customers. In days gone by we used to trade with customers based on our reputation, our service and our transparency. That was largely lost (as a focus) in a period of market segmentation, interruption marketing and principally outbound activity.
    Now the good companies are becoming better customer listeners. The poor companies still do not know how to listen. They listen for answers – wrong, the customer often doesn’t know what he/she wants. The key is to listen for actionable insights that can be combined with your products, knowledge and skill to create mutually beneficial and valuable outcomes.
    I could go on about the things that stop good business listening, like silos, internally focussed leadership and a constant “growth” imperative but I’ll get off my soapbox at this point.

  2. Thanks for the article, great read. The ability for us businesses to listen and respond to our customers is key for success and the VOC is crucial building blocks towards companies achieving their goal. The new trend these days to further enhance that, is getting rid of the old surveys and forms where response time takes forever and data is usually inaccurate.

    Lets deal with the real ‘VOICE’ of the customers literally and enable customers to provide real time feedback straight to management and for us to react to them individually. Similar to what the Eco Feedback Tool ( http://www.geteco.com ) provides in which feedback can be left through mobile phones. Companies looking to achieve more out of customer feedback and hear the voice of their customers can start emphasizing on such gadgets for their operations… Cheers…

  3. Hi all…love the article. Love the comments made as well and i just wanted to say that i agree with your sentiments miss Sanjana and you make some valid points. The voice of our customers are the essential key to building a successful company and we need to start listening and responding to them and their feedback more often and quicker.

    Thanks for the quick tip on the Eco feedback tool. Just happened to visit their website and it has opened my eyes to the emergence of such real time feedback systems which I was not too aware of before…

  4. Hi Bob

    An interesting article full of little facts. But do the facts warrant the conclusions?

    The widely used Delta Model shows us that not all companies should follow a customer-oriented strategy. Some should follow a low-cost strategy, like European airline Ryanair does. It isn’t pretty but it is highly profitable. Some should follow a superior product strategy. The choice of which strategy to follow depends upon the companies market, competitors and capabilities.

    There’s more to business than just being customer-oriented. Something your article failed to point out.

    Graham Hill


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