Loyalty 360 (L360):   How do you define Voice of the Customer (VOC)?  What is Voice of the Customer Intelligence (VOCi) ™?

Cottle :  Allegiance defines VOC as gathering, analyzing and acting on solicited and unsolicited customer feedback from multiple channels.  However, we believe the industry needs to shift the focus from gathering more data to creating actionable insights. VOCi™ combines the best of VOC data from all places in an organization with operational data, such as CRM and financial, to provide a complete view of the customer experience. The ultimate goal of VOCi is to provide actionable business intelligence that tells a powerful story that executives buy into and want to see regularly.

L360:  What type of data is uniquely available and actionable in a successful VOC program?

Cottle :  Actionable data is data that you can use to improve the operations of the company.  It goes beyond answering “what” to understanding “why.” VOC programs fail most often because they provide just scores, changes in scores, or data that is only part of the solution. This only tells business managers that their SAT scores are down this month without telling them the reasons why, and pointing out comments and stats to help them see the impact of fixing the problem. If you present your VOC results as broader business story, rather than just a VOC/SAT report, success will skyrocket. It is hard to do, and requires thinking big, being ready to tackle processes beyond our job scope, and thinking like an executive.

Unfortunately, many VOC practitioners place their efforts on the collection side, improving surveys and feedback mechanisms. They need to think more strategically about VOC data.  More surveys are not the answer, but more strategically designed feedback mechanisms that yield actionable data is what is needed.

L360:  How does data become, “actionable data”?

Cottle :  Actionable data actually points to a specific condition or state within a customer’s experience that the company could have an immediate impact on, such as a specific product problem. Another example is an issue with an operational procedure or policy that causes some frustration in customers, or perhaps a poor interaction with a customer service agent regarding a refund. These are specific types of insights that can point to specific actions a company can take to keep customers from leaving or to directly increase loyalty and satisfaction.

L360:  Jet Blue Airways and EMC Corp. recently selected Allegiance for their, “ability to combine customer data with operational data into a single, integrated platform.”  What makes this capability uniquely valuable?

Cottle :  Many companies are collecting VOC and operational data on a departmental basis and it is never shared with others in the company. In addition, they are using many different tools that are not integrated, which causes them to have an incomplete view of customer experience. However, if you are able to combine VOC and operational data, you have not only what customers feel and say, but you can compare it to what they actually do. This gives you the most complete understanding of customer intelligence.

L360: What are some of the top technologies and tools available for capturing VOCI?

Cottle : The optimal VOC solution is able to incorporate and process both structured and unstructured VOC data. Currently, there is an explosion of freeform text information being generated by consumers. When you combine structured data with unstructured data, such as freeform replies to open-ended survey questions or comments on the Internet, you add another layer of depth that can give you a complete picture. For example, you can see what customers are saying about a poorly performing product, why customers in a specific region for a specific type of product and for a specific time period are unhappy, and what were the key issues that drove low satisfaction. Text analytics is the key to understanding these questions.

Incorporating text analytics into a VOC program helps companies understand the meaning of the comments and suggestions coming from customers so that they can effectively act on them. Systems are available today that provide a dashboard for analysis and reporting of structured data from call centers and customer surveys. The best VOC solution provides this same type of analysis and reports for the narrative replies to open-ended questions. The best approach is to treat text data just like structured data. This allows you to automatically process and analyze it, instantly seeing the top ten issues, suggestions or reasons customers left the company, and more.

Chris Cottle leads the brand and product strategy, public and analyst relations, events, lead generation, marketing communications, and product strategy and management worldwide for Allegiance. Cottle has extensive experience in technology brand building in both B-B and B-C markets.

Recently announced from Allegiance: Allegiance Secures $12 Million in Funding to Fuel Growth in Voice of Customer Intelligence Technology and Services

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