Back to overview

It’s time to listen to the voice of the customer

Almost every major brand now has a Voice of the Customer (VoC) programme. And in recent years talk of CEM or VoC has increasingly been replaced with “customer-centricity”.

However, the reality is that many VoC programmes actually seek to serve a business objective of monitoring a KPI such as NPS, and to justify decisions already taken. Rather than listening to the voice of the customer, instead we still all too often ask our customers to spend their precious time answering multiple rating scales that the customer doesn’t even care about. Is this really customer-centric?

Many VoC programmes are not customer-centric

A recent visit to my car dealership for a service implored me to score a 9 or 10 on a survey I had been given, as I was clearly told anything other than this score would result in negative consequences for the salesman in question. How, I wondered, did my experience become all about them? And how does this help improve the experience in the future?

Let’s take another example. After a recent flight I was asked to give my feedback, only to be asked to rate multiple aspects of the experience. 15 minutes of questions about every conceivable aspect of the flight. What I really wanted to say was that the cabin service was really good, but after 10 minutes of answering about anything and everything other than this, I’d frankly lost the will to continue further and just wanted the whole experience to end. Again, the feeling persists that I was filling in a series of scorecards that suited the airline rather than feeling they genuinely wanted my feedback. Not exactly “customer-centric”.

This old way of working is neither customer-centric nor sustainable into the future. We must change now or have change forced upon us.

To be sustainable and relevant in the future, this must change

Why? Firstly, in a world of big data and multiple screens, consumers have ever increasing demands upon their time, and a decreasing attention span. For researchers, this translates as lower response rates and a marked reduction in willingness to conduct longer surveys.

To continue receiving meaningful feedback, brands need to demonstrate the relevance of doing so to the customers and engage with them. Working with your own clients can also provide a platform to take this further and start co-creating with them.

You can start by stripping back questionnaires, relinquishing control and letting the customer control the agenda far more than they do currently. However, this doesn’t mean that VoC programmes should be about producing less useful information for the business, in fact the end outcome will be more beneficial to the business; more focused, more relevant insight, and at a lower cost.

New technologies now enable a more customer-centric approach

Using text and voice analytics, we are now able to really uncover what matters to the consumer, instead of inferring this from analysis of multiple questions. From these responses, we can recreate categorizations for analysis, add sentiment to our understanding, and understand customers at a really granular level. And we know everything said is relevant and important, because it has been volunteered and not forced, from the customer.

Not only that, but as consumer expectations change in the face of an ever-evolving environment, this will appear in the unstructured data analysis. New themes can be tracked and measured, and retrospective trend analysis applied. Companies can see these changes and be more proactive in addressing them.

A truly customer-centric approach is also more cost effective

Finally, such an approach has substantial cost savings. Asking fewer questions reduces costs, and being able to analyze unstructured data also helps eliminate the need for ad-hoc research to dig deeper into changes in KPIs.

With social media providing consumers with a platform to amplify good and bad experiences, listening to the voice of the customer has never been more important.

It’s time we started to really listen.

Take concept validation to the next level. Find out more about voice analytics with this interactive content.

Download our concept validation guide

Back to overview

Write a comment

*required field

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Your comment*


A 15-minute survey for a single flight? For that length of survey I’d want to have had a chance to fly the plane, not just be a passenger!

Daniel, I could not agree more. Not only are surveys too long, they are usually (entirely?) from the prospective of the service/product provider and their perspective rather than the customer’s perspective. Give me a chance to tell you what is important to me and why rather than making me tick boxes for 15 minutes about something I do not care about or worse yet, know little to nothing about. I recently did a survey on SUVs. The survey rightly asked me if I had heard of certain makes and models but then went on to ask me detailed question of my impression of each one even if I said I knew little or nothing about them — so my answers were neutral or negative because I really had little or no opinion.

We must stop the madness. Customer focus is vital but further than that, we also need to ensure that every question has a purpose and stop asking just because it seems interesting. If it won’t drive a client’s strategy, or helps build the narrative of the survey, then don’t ask the question!