Thought leadership

Voice of the Customer is a term that is being used increasingly by a wide range of organisations – both vendors and client side – to describe a wide array of technological and insight led solutions to help brands deliver a better experience to their customers.

This plethora of meanings for the term ‘Voice of the Customer’ has created a degree of confusion around what is meant by it – yet it has never been more crucial for brands to invest in their Voice of the Customer listening and interpreting capabilities. Eighty per cent of information available exists in text form and traditionally goes unused. The most advanced Voice of the Customer programmes utilise customer experience analytics tools to make sense of this previously untapped information.

For Nunwood, a successful Voice of the Customer programme is characterised by a number of key elements:

·        It utilises technology to disseminate the Voice of the Customer across the business – from front line staff to C-suite execs – in the format required

·        Customer experience analytics are utilised to add value through a combination of structured and unstructured data

·        It provides flexibility to ‘listen more intensely’ to specific areas highlighted

·        It is linked to or drives a comprehensive programme of governance, actions and outcome

·        It provides organisations with best practice examples from across the globe. 


1) Stakeholder needs differ in relation to the Voice of the Customer. Front line staff, or their direct line managers, are mostly interested in the verbatim feedback of customers on specific interactions. Delivered in real time, these can drive direct recovery activities where required or be used in training as a motivational tool. Technology is key in delivering this information in real-time (or near real-time).

Other stakeholders within a business may gain less value from the direct customer verbatim but exponentially more from an aggregated view. The aggregated Voice of the Customer can help inform tactical changes to processes and experiences, based on a priority list driven by the customer voice.

At a strategic level, the Voice of the Customer is a key input into evidence based decision making. Here, bringing the Voice of the Customer to the decision-making table (alongside, for example, financial considerations, internal processes and regulatory elements) provides a more comprehensive body of evidence for any decision making.

2) Customer experience analytics are the key enablers of a strategic use of the Voice of the Customer. This can be through statistical analysis of structured variables (e.g. through primary research), through combining customer research with internal data (e.g. CRM, Segmentations) or through advanced analysis of the customer verbatim alone. Customer experience analytics are as wide ranging an area as Voice of the Customer programmes themselves.

3) Even the most comprehensive Voice of the Customer programme will not be able to cover every process to the level of detail required to derive actionable recommendations. It is therefore key for any Voice of the Customer programme to maintain a flexible approach to analyse identified areas of under-performance. This can be through verbatim deep dives, ad hoc quantitative studies or qualitative analyses of specific experiences. The customer experience analytics can be used to prioritise areas of further investigation, so that everything hangs together.

4) Research without governance leads to interesting findings and – in the best case – new insights about how customers perceive or use services provided. It will not, however, lead to targeted action to improve the situation for customers. It is therefore crucial to embed a VoC programme within a clearly defined organisational governance structure around the customer.

5) The ability to provide clear actions to improve the customer experience is greatly enhanced by adding an outside view to the table. This is where global best practice comes in. Nunwood utilise The Six Pillar System® as a window into the world’s best brands which provides considerably more direction than ‘nearest competitor’ only.

Upon review of this characterisation, you will probably be able to identify programmes of very different nature as a Voice of the Customer programme. And indeed, the main denominator of every Voice of the Customer programme is the fact that the organisation starts bringing the Voice of the Customer to the board room (or any other meeting room) where decisions are made that will impact on customers.

The continued integration of social media in your customers’ lives means that they are listening to their peers’ voice – can you afford not to?

Torsten Fritz is Head of Quantitative Research and Dr David Herron Director of Insight at Nunwood



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