Customer Service Must Adapt to Expanded Touchpoints for Voice of the Customer Insight

Customer experience (CX) and customer service leaders continue to be under pressure to demonstrate the value of their voice of the customer (VoC) programs through improved business outcomes. Additionally, rapidly changing world events, such as geopolitical shifts, environmental and societal disruptions, and COVID-19, are driving significant changes in both consumer and customer needs and behaviors.

Failing to understand changing customer needs can lead to a poor CX, or even loss of the customer. Gartner research shows 94 percent of customer service organizations use traditional surveys, the most common way to capture customer needs and feedback, but they are perceived to bring less value than other methods of VoC collection. To drive CX excellence, organizations must reexamine and accelerate how they listen, adapt, and respond to these changing needs. This is why Gartner predicts that by 2025, 60 percent of organizations with VoC programs will supplement traditional surveys by analyzing voice and text interactions with customers.

With surveys, organizations are only capturing direct feedback to specific questions, with input usually limited to a single channel interaction. Low survey response rates diminish the amount of information collected. The quality of the questions also impacts whether the results are insightful and actionable.

VoC and analytics technology, on the other hand, can capture indirect or inferred customer data on all interactions along the customer journey, providing more strategic and actionable insight than surveys alone. Gartner research shows that VoC and analytics technology are anticipated to have the greatest future growth in development and value. Spending on VoC application software grew by 20 percent in 2020. Not only is this category growing more than other service technologies, it is also expected to become one of the most valuable technology categories in the next two years.

Speech and text analytics is the most popular of the analytics technologies, with 36 percent of service organizations already deploying it as a part of their VoC programs. Not only can speech and text analytics tools provide insight with post-transaction analysis, but it can also provide real-time insight that can be used in the moment to impact CX. In addition, those responsible for VoC programs must consider the implications of disseminating this new insight to different business partners in different ways that are relevant to their jobs.

Turning voice and text into data is just part of the challenge. Converting that into relevant and actionable knowledge demands careful considerations of the reports, dashboards, alerts, and other communication methods.

CX and customer service leaders should keep the following in mind when exploring or expanding their VoC programs to capture customer feedback using analytics:

Use existing foundations: Implement speech and text analytics by using the capabilities in VoC or interaction recording tools, buying new analytics tools or hiring staff to tune and analyze existing tools to improve understanding of the CX.

Prioritize active channels: Inventory all of the sources of potential customer listening posts along the customer journey (e.g., customer service interactions, social media posts, customer community engagement). Prioritize these sources based on the completeness of the narratives, the ability to confirm authentic customers, and the value the sources can bring to CX strategy.

Explore distribution options: Develop strategies for how this burgeoning source of customer insight will be distributed to employees and internal stakeholders so that it is relevant, intuitive, actionable, applicable, and embedded into their daily jobs. Keeping this additional insight locked in databases and hubs won't improve the value of VoC to the organization.

As organizations continue to seek ways to diminish their reliance on traditional surveys, customer service and CX leaders must first consider how further investments in VoC programs will improve their capabilities of deriving customer context, emotion, and experiences and leverage that insight to deliver greater value on business outcomes.

Deborah Alvord is a senior director analyst at Gartner.