The State Of VoC Programs, 2014

Voice of the customer (VoC) programs play a critical role in improving customer experience. They gather data for customer experience (CX) measurement efforts and uncover insights that help improve customer understanding.

To assess the state of VoC programs, we asked companies how long their VoC program has been in place, how valuable the program is to drive CX improvements and deliver financial results, how the program governance works, and if it is supported by VoC consulting and technology vendors. And we asked participants to rate their program’s capabilities on the four key tasks of VoC programs — listen, interpret, react, and monitor.

Here are some highlights of what we found:

  • Most VoC programs have been around for three or more years, are run or coordinated by a central team, and consist of fewer than five full-time employees. Many also turn to outside vendors for help.
  • But VoC programs are still not taken as seriously as other programs in an organization: They improve customer experience but struggle to deliver financial results. And they aren’t embedded enough in the organization. The good news is that many have some executive support, but they lack the resources they need and aren’t fully embraced by employees.
  • For VoC capabilities, we found that VoC programs are still better at listening than at acting on the insights they find.
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Make the Business Case: Better Customer Experience Can Deliver More Than $1 Billion In Revenue Growth

In the age of the customer, you need to be obsessed with your customers. And that obsession can pay off big time — as we have shown over and over again: Years of Forrester data confirm the strong relationship between the quality of a firm's customer experience (CX) and customer loyalty.

And this means revenue growth! Find out how exactly we calculate the revenue upside in the report "The Business Impact Of Customer Experience, 2014." But here are the cliff notes: We built a model that shows how improving customer experience scores from below to above average affects loyalty, which in turn affects revenue in three categories:

  • Repurchase: incremental purchases from existing customers in the same year.
  • Switching: revenue saved by lower churn.
  • Recommendation: new sales driven by word of mouth.

When we looked at the data, this year, we found new and important developments that affect the revenue upside:

  1. “Ok” is the new “poor.” Converging Customer Experience Index (CXi) scores mean that companies cannot rely on average customer experience to prevent churn and get people to buy more.
  2. People talk. Consumers recommend companies more if they had a good experience, and they talk to more people about it — a multiplier in the effect of CX on word of mouth.
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A Mistake To Avoid When Using CX Metrics For Employee Incentives

Do you use your customer experience (CX) metrics to incentivize frontline employees in your company? Here is a cautionary tale I came across in my wireless provider’s store.

While I was chatting with the representative who took care of my problem, I overheard another representative ask a customer for a 9 or 10 on the satisfaction survey. Don’t stop reading — we all know this happens; this is not what this is about. Given that I am a CX analyst with a passion for CX measurement, I asked my service rep what this was all about. What he said about the employee perspective on this blew me away: He said that the company basically said, “Southwest [Airlines] gets nearly only 9’s and 10’s on the survey (meaning the NPS question) so we should be able to do that, too.”

Setting targets for CX metrics requires more than that — benchmarking is a part of it, but it also requires a solid baseline and a realistic stretch target, with realistic being the operative word here. It is probably no surprise to you that the experience those two companies provide is hardly comparable. If you look at Forrester’s 2014 Customer Experience Index (CXi), Southwest Airlines is the industry leader among airlines with a CXi score of 81. And its score is way ahead of the average score for wireless providers of 71 (and also way ahead of my wireless provider’s CXi score).

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Benchmark Your Voice Of The Customer Program: Participate In Forrester’s Upcoming Research On The State Of VoC Programs, 2014

How mature is your company's voice of the customer (VoC) program? Compare yourself against the state of the art and find out: 

  • How VoC programs affect customer experience and business results.
  • How companies integrate and analyze data from different sources.
  • How VoC program owners share customer insight.
  • How they drive action based on their insights.
  • Which vendors they use to support their VoC program.

We'd like to hear from practitioners that can speak about their company's VoC program. As a thank you for completing our 10-minute survey, you will receive the report resulting from this research, "State Of Voice Of Customer Programs, 2014." As additional thanks, you will receive the high-level results after the survey data has been processed.

Sign up for the survey here.

Finding The Right Vendor(s) For Your Voice Of Customer Program: Vendor Landscape, Capabilities, And Go-To-Market Strategies

Are you looking for a vendor or vendors to support your voice of the customer (VoC) program? Or are you reviewing your current VoC vendor(s)?

Selecting the right vendor or vendors can be hard! Why? The VoC vendor landscape is hard to decipher. There are many but relatively small vendors, and they rely on an interconnected network of partners, acquire each other at an impressive rate, and regularly expand into new spaces. And companies often already have a number of vendors they work with. In my recent webinar about VoC, most of the attendees had from three to five vendors that supported their VoC program in some shape or form.

But there are a few beacons to help orient you in your quest:

  • The VoC vendor market is an ecosystem. What vendors are the right “lid” for your “VoC program pot” depends entirely on your internal capabilities and the characteristics of your VoC program. We identified customer feedback management (CFM) platforms and VoC specialist vendors. CFM platforms support VoC programs with a robust set of capabilities that include feedback collection, integration of feedback with other data in a centralized data hub, analysis, reporting, and closed-loop action management. VoC specialists offer a subset of VoC platform vendor capabilities. Their areas of expertise range from surveying customers in order to generate measurement data to mining your unstructured feedback with text analytics, monitoring social media data, and consulting to help establish or evolve a VoC program.
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Peace And Quiet In The Air? Only For A Charge!

I am writing this down now, so in one year or so I can say, "I told you so!"

Here is how you'll experience and pay for flying in the future. It has to do with the use of cell phones. In the US, the Federal Communications Commission is considering allowing cell phone use on flights. And when I traveled to Forrester's Customer Experience Forum in London just this week, my Virgin Atlantic flight already allowed us to use our mobile phones to roam the cell phone skies.

It won't be long, and we'll all be able to use our mobile devices to talk to our friends and colleagues on airplanes — much like we already do on trains. 

In the wake of this, I predict that airlines will introduce quiet zones for passengers who are not interested in hearing their neighors talk on the phone about their latest breakup or job experiences. Just take a look at Singapore Airline's budget brand Scoot. Scoot just introduced quiet zones for kids (or for the passengers without them). 

And  in style   airlines will charge for the advantage: by requiring a separate charge, by charging a fee for seat selection generally like Scoot, or by making the quiet zone part of a higher class, like Economy Plus.

Long live customer experience — just not in the air?

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Workshop — Customer Experience Measurement Essentials — Back By Popular Demand On October 24th

Do you know what the right metrics are to measure your customers' experience? Do you know how to make the best use of the metrics to improve the customer experience?

If you cannot measure the customer experience, you cannot manage it. And that means that you will never move beyond the find-and-fix approach that characterizes the "repair" stage on the path to customer experience maturity.

So join me and your peers in the Forrester Workshop, Customer Experience Measurement Essentials, in Cambridge, Mass., on October 24th.

This workshop is a great opportunity for all CX professionals to:

  • Learn Forrester's framework for measuring the customer experience: how to identify the right metrics to measure CX and how to make the best use of CX metrics.
  • Network with peers.

Find the complete description and agenda here.

If you have any questions, please contact Jon Ellis (jellis@forrester.com), me (mschmidt@forrester.com), or your Forrester account representative.

Looking forward to seeing you there,

Maxie

New Research: VoC Vendor Landscape 2013 — We'd Love To Hear From You

We are working on a new report on the voice-of-the-customer (VoC) vendor landscape 2013.

The report will provide a guide to the current landscape of the VoC vendor market as well as the features and services currently delivered by a variety of vendors and will show where we see the growth potential in the future. 

To all CX and CI professionals who use VoC vendors: We would love to hear about your experience with your current and past vendors. If you would like to take part in this research, please reach out to Corey Stearns (cstearns@forrester.com).

To all VoC vendors: We just launched a vendor landscape overview survey. If you help companies listen to, interpret, share, and act on customer feedback and haven't received the survey, please reach out to Corey Stearns (cstearns@forrester.com).

The Perils Of Free

With fall coming up, I was reminiscing about my summer. And funnily enough, one of the lower moments had to do with free ice cream. Whole Foods had advertised an “Ice Cream Social” on a Saturday in July — free ice cream from 2 to 5pm. By the time my husband and I managed to squeeze my 8-week-old daughter and one set of grandparents into our car and drive there, it was 4:30pm. But that was still before 5pm, right? Yeah. Unfortunately, when we entered the store, there were no signs of an ice cream social anywhere. Turns out, the store had run out of ice cream earlier. What a bummer! Now all of us had to trudge back into the car without having eaten the ice cream we were all much looking forward to.

Now you might say “stop whining” since the ice cream was free. But here is the thing: Even though we certainly had no right to expect anything in the first place, Whole Foods changed the game by promising something. We were upset because Whole Foods didn’t deliver on its promise. And you know what? Only a few weeks later, it happened all over again! Whole Foods hosted an event in which people could bring back their used toothbrushes and get new ones. Guess what? When we got there, they only had toothbrushes for left-handed people left. Given that left-handed people only represent about 10% of the world’s population that was very disappointing and started to feel like a marketing gimmick.

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Pricing Can Make Or Break The Customer Experience: Find The Issues That Drive Away Your Customers!

Pricing matters when it comes to your customers' experiences and loyalty! You are not quite sure? Let's do a short quiz:

Have you ever:

  • Left a rental car counter flabbergasted by the final price?
  • Given up on finding a new mobile phone plan when the sheer number of options obscured the best choice?
  • Checked your latest bank statement only to find an unexpected new fee?
  • Squeezed into a middle airplane seat because the alternative meant shelling out $20 for a preferred seat assignment?
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