How To Launch and Run A Voice of the Customer Program

How To Launch and Run A Voice of the Customer Program

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Adam Ramshaw
Adam Ramshaw has been helping companies to improve their Net Promoter® and Customer Feedback systems for more than 15 years. He is on a mission to stamp out ineffective processes and bad surveys.
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What is a Voice of The Customer Program

A Voice of the Customer (VoC) Program is the process by which a company listens to, understands and acts on feedback from its customers regarding the company, its products and services.

A great VoC program is not just about sending out a survey and creating some charts. It’s about aligning the company with it’s customers’ needs in order to grow company value.

Benefits of a VoC Program

There are three main benefits of a VoC program:

  • Increased customer loyalty;
  • Lower costs;
  • Increased sales

Each of these benefits is achieved by using customer feedback to deliver products and services that more closely match customer needs and thereby increase customer customer loyalty and customer satisfaction.

How to Launch Your VoC Program

Most organisations start their VoC program by sending a customer feedback survey to their customers. This works in the short term but long term it fails to set the organisation up for success.

Long term success is built on creating a VoC process that collects VoC information and then puts it to use changing and improving the business. 

Here are the five steps to launch a great Voice of the Customer program:

net promoter score implementation plan
The 5 Steps of the VoC Program Launch

Step 1: Initiate – Executive Commitment, Design Governance and Change Management

First you should ensure that senior management are engaged in the process. They control the budgets (time and money) that you need to be successful so they need to believe and understand the goals of the VoC program.

Investing in a Governance process that is appropriate and as simple as possible will ensure ongoing support and clarity for the program.

Lastly, consider how you will introduce the change to the rest of the organisation. Running a simple change management workshop will help leverage supporters and convert those not convinced.

Step 2: Develop a Simple Customer Journey Map

Before launching a survey it is important to identify the important customer touchpoints and segments in your business so you can focus the VoC data collection on the right parts parts of your business.

Create a customer feedback based customer journey map to help guide you in the rollout.

Step 3: Create Survey and Close the Loop

Now you have everyone’s attention, know the key touchpoints and customers you can design your targeted VoC survey to capture the right information from the right customers at the right touchpoints.

This is also the right time to design how you will respond to clients when they complete the survey. Research shows that reacting quickly and directly to negative feedback can dramatically lift your customer rating.

Step 4: VoC Quick Wins

Having received a good number of survey responses you should start making changes to your business as soon as possible.

It is very common to find some quick and easy wins from the initial set of customer feedback. Improving customer perception can sometimes be as simple as changing an onboarding email or updating a few pages on your website.

These small changes can often have a disproportionate impact on improving customer loyalty. Do them quickly and prove the value of the program.

Step 5: Big Bets

With some solid quick wins behind you it’s time to start looking at bigger changes that require higher levels of investment and, typically, businesses cases.

Having proved your process using Quick Wins will help your credibility when getting the business case approved.

The Best Voice of the Customer Program Metrics

Most VoC programs will settle on having one or two key metrics to track progress. While there are any number of metrics you could use, here are the three most common Voice of Customer program metric.

Net Promoter Score

Net Promoter Score, or NPS® is well known and has been proven to be a valid predictor of customer loyalty and so makes a good candidate as a high level VoC tracking measure.

To determine NPS® the following question is added to an organisation’s customer feedback survey.

The Net Promoter Score Question

Once the data is collected, Net Promoter Score is calculated by subtracting the percentage of 0-6 responses (Detractors), from the percentage of 9 and 10 responses (Promoters). 7 and 8 responses (Neutrals) are ignored.

Here is the NPS calculation in a formula:

The Net Promoter Score formula

Customer Satisfaction Score or CSAT

Customer Satisfaction Scores attempt to measure how satisfied customers are with the performance of the company. The assumption being that the more satisfied a customer is the more likely that are to stay as a customer.

CSAT was the first metric to be commonly used in VoC programs but it can be a little unreliable as a customer loyalty indicator so is not used as often in modern programs.

Customer Satisfaction Question

Customer Effort Score 

Launched in the 2010 Harvard Business Review article “Stop trying to delight your customers”, Customer Effort Score (CES) is less popular than NPS as a metric but is occasionally used. 

To what extent to you agree or disagree with the following statement: The company made it easy to handle my issue.
Customer Effort Score Question

It has been shown to be a good predictor of customer loyalty but is generally only applicable to front line (contact centres, retail locations, etc) settings and so needs to be carefully considered if being considered as a VoC metric.

VoC Program Best Practices

There are lots of detailed best practices you can apply to your voice of the customer program but the most important are:

Launch Quickly and Iterate

It can be easy to get lost in the process of setting up your VoC program and spend far too long designing the perfect program. In practice you learn far more in the two days after putting out your first survey than you will by trying to perfect every last detail.

Launch as quickly as you can then iterate the program to improve.

Read Every Comment

Maybe it sounds simple and straightforward but it doesn’t always occur. One of the most important things you can do is to read every comment that customers provide.

Apart from the obvious, because the customer wrote them, they provide the detailed insights you can use to innovate and improve.

Act on What you Hear with Root Cause Analysis

It is not enough to listen to the Voice of the customer, you have to act on it as well.

This is the key. Your VoC program is just a way of identifying what you need to change. To improve you then have to use the information to identify and make changes to better align the business to customer needs.

Close the Loop

By being quick to respond and, where possible, resolving customer issues you will often turn people around from singing your shortfalls to singing your praises.

Here’s the proof: CustomerGauge compared the scores of NPS survey respondents year on year and found organisations that close the loop convert 3x more Detractors to Promoters than those that don’t. Plus you halve the number of Detractors.

Proof that Closing the Loop Lifts your NPS
I've created a Business Leaders’ Practical Guide to Implementing Net Promoter.  Download it Here