The Voice of the Customer is Clear: It's Our Way or the Highway

“The ear of the leader must ring with the voices of the people.”
—Woodrow Wilson, speech at the University of Tennessee (June 17, 1890)

Corporations are learning and practicing this truth today in larger numbers.  The concept of the “Voice of the Customer” (VoC) is the 5th largest trend in Customer Experience, according to Kate Leggett with Forrester.  Companies such as Adobe Systems, Fidelity Investments, JetBlue Airways, Amazon, Best Buy, and Ultradent have been recognized for having outstanding VoC initiatives.  Just what is “VoC” all about, though?  Gartner says:

“Voice of the customer (VoC) solutions combine multiple, traditionally siloed technologies associated with the capture, storage and analysis of direct, indirect and inferred customer feedback. Technologies such as social media monitoring, enterprise feedback management, speech analytics, text mining and Web analytics are integrated to provide a holistic view of the customer’s voice. The resultant customer insights are acted on by disseminating relevant information to the right person at the right time on the right channel.”

Harley Manning of Forrester reported on his blog that:

  • As a result of insights gathered through its voice of the customer program, Cisco consolidated ordering platforms and rules. Those changes resulted in savings of $20 million per month.
  • Armed with information from its voice of the customer program, a Vanguard client manager created an action plan for rebuilding a client’s trust in the firm. The plan worked, and he secured a $100 million account.
  • On a slightly smaller but still-significant scale, Barclaycard US employees are now formally responsible for reducing complaints year over year by 50%, a goal that’s tied directly to compensation. These efforts contributed to a 28% reduction in customer attrition, for an estimated annual savings of $10 million.

So VoC is apparently no waste of time and resources. Another aspect of VoC initiatives that’s catching on more and more is the “co-creation workshop.”  Companies like Nokia, MasterCard, McDonalds, L’Oreal, and American Apparel have all engaged in this practice with great success.  Again, Gartner provides a definition for us:

“Co-creation is a collaborative initiative between companies and their customers enabling the joint design of products and services. These initiatives include the creation of goods, services and experiences, amplifying the process via the inclusion of client intellectual capital.”

Kerry Bodine and Amelia Sizemore with Forrester delivered a Webinar on co-creation workshops that was hugely popular, based on the fact that they ran out of time to handle the questions and Kerry posted additional “overflow” questions on her blog and answered them.

So VoC is definitely a significant trend, and it’s making a positive impact.  But what is a company supposed to do with the results of a VoC or co-creation initiative?  Back to Kate Leggett:

“In 2012, Forrester saw more companies adopt voice of the customer (VoC) programs (68% versus just 55% last year). However, companies struggled to distribute the analyzed data and act on pertinent feedback to deliver quantifiable business value.”

Acting on change is hard, especially with entrenched business processes.  Change is not something that comes easily to companies large enough to have significant investments in CRM, ERP, or other Enterprise-class platforms that are intended to enable superior customer experience.

Turning on a dime is also not something larger companies are known for; it could take months or longer to roll out significant change in a sizeable organization. There are technologies like the Lean Portal that allow companies to start rolling out new processes to customers quickly—Backbase is an example—but that doesn’t solve the problem of a true multichannel contact center, with IVR, ACD, social media, chat, email, etc.

USAN’s Customer Engagement platform uniquely enables this kind of rapid change in a significantly complex enterprise environment. I’d like to examine how this applies to the examples above.

With our CE platform, the user builds a workflow in a graphical tool similar to that used to build IVR call flows. Icons that provide different functions like prompting the user for information, relaying information to users, pulling information from various data sources, comparing values and making decisions can be dragged around and dropped where needed. The user connects them together in meaningful ways and deploys the workflow. Systems as varied as Web, IVR, ACD, Agent Desktop, Mobile, and just about anything you can dream up are then controlled from that workflow. For example, it generates HTML for the Web channel, VXML to drive an IVR, and so on. We have a live demo that shows an Aspect ACD integrated with USAN’s own IVR, an SMS gateway, email, and Twitter, for example, all driven completely by our CE platform.

What this means is that from a central location the business decision makers can define their processes with a focus on the customer experience.  Most business process modeling systems do a great job of handling workflow, but you’re left largely on your own to integrate them into your corporate website, let alone integrate with your ACD or IVR platforms. Not so with USAN; our CE platform is designed from the ground up to drive interaction channels while maintaining the integrity of your data.

Even custom integrations are simplified with USAN.  By having either USAN or your own IT organization “extend” the existing set of icons to provide additional functions like “load CRM record” or “update campaign,” the users can simply drag that new icon into their workflows and put it to work. You can even call an existing workflow from another, enabling the enterprise to centralize and reuse processes like authentication, self-service payments, document processing, or virtually anything else.

USAN has been providing hosted contact center solutions since 1989, so we have years of providing rock solid solutions to challenges that most other “cloud” companies are still tackling for the first time.  Our extensive experience with integration allows us to easily and reliably connect to, and retrieve data from just about anywhere.  From databases and web-service-enabled applications to old, 3270-style “green screen” systems, we’ve seen it all. That goes both ways; if we can get information from anywhere, we can put it anywhere, too.

We have the technology that can finally enable you to leverage all the data in your Customer Experience-focused enterprise systems.  Systems that you poured resources into creating and maintaining that you just can’t seem to get to talk to another system will coexist under the watchful eye of the USAN CE platform.

So go ahead and listen to your customers carefully, and when it comes time to implement change, allow USAN to partner with you to create a flexible solution that can change again as soon as your customers do.