Capturing the Voice of the Customer: Part 2 — How to do it

Last week I blogged about the need for businesses to capture the voice of the customer. See: I’ll assume that you all left that riveting post, fully convinced. This "part 2" piece looks at the best way(s) of actually accomplishing the task of getting your customers to rate your products or services.

I think you’ve got five main options for capturing the information: mail, phone interviews, email, automated web survey and automated post-call survey. The chart below looks at three dynamics of each option: the response rate, the cost, and the timeliness. Each has its upside and downside, but mail, phone, and email all have reasons to be ruled out as choices. Unfortunately for most companies,  use of one of these three methods is the norm…IF (a big IF) they are actually doing any surveying at all.

So what is the ideal method? Supported by the above chart, it is automated post-call surveys or web surveys. And I’d make the case that if the interaction is a phone interaction, that a post-call survey at the conclusion of the call is by far the best method. If your service was provided via the web, that a web survey is the best method. Back to the basic rule of communicating with the customer the way THEY CHOOSE to communicate with you.

For both automated web surveys and post-call surveys, the technology is available and it works very well. Just a side note here to explain an "automated post-call survey"….following the call into your service center, the caller is automatically transferred to an automated system where he/she is prompted with a few pre-recorded questions. The caller responds with DTMF input and recorded responses. The data is aggregated and scored. Dissatisfied customers or prospects are immediately escalated. Pretty straightforward, but I wanted to be sure you understood the process.

Here are some guidelines to consider regarding implementation of technology to capture the voice of the customer:

  1. Have the customer opt-in to the survey up front, before the service is delivered. Otherwise, you’ll only tend to capture those polar experiences of either great or terrible service.
  2. The call center agent can’t have any influence regarding who gets surveyed. They can’t be required to transfer the caller into the survey application. Otherwise, you won’t get any of the dissatisfied customers in your survey mix (hey, it’s the reality).
  3. For post-call survey technology, the application is most useful if it is provided by the same vendor that provides the ACD and call recording system. This let’s you correlate the call, the recording, and the survey.
  4. Don’t make your survey too long. Three or four questions is best.
  5. Ask questions on different subject areas — i.e. courtesy of the agent; did the customer get the answer he/she needed; timeliness of the response; etc. 
  6. Implement a system for immediate response for any survey where the customer gives you a poor grade. As the chart above indicates, web and post-call survey technology gives you realtime response capabilities. Imagine the reaction of a customer who gives you poor marks and within minutes receives a live phone call from a supervisor wanting to get information and working to resolve the dissatisfaction. You just got a huge benefit over the companies who can’t react quickly and simply just pay the price of customers deserting them and making their next purchase from a competitor.

So that is about it. Not too complex and pretty darn cost effective ways to capture the voice of the customer and use it as a competitive advantage.

What has your experience been? Anything you’d add to the my list of six implementation tips? Please comment for others to learn from you.

Joe Staples — customer voice evangelist and drive time blogger