Voice of the Customer

Build Your VoC Program From Where You Are: Part 1 - Building Phase

COVID-19 has no doubt changed something about your CX. Use this Building Phase checklist to reassess your current VoC program and create a fresh start.

Building Phase
Sean McDade, PhD

Sean McDade, PhD

Founder & CEO, PeopleMetrics

Every organization has a different level of VoC maturity. Some companies have had VoC in place for many years, while others are just getting started.
Companies typically begin in one of three phrases: building, growth, or optimization. Where you start with VoC depends on your level of maturity.
This framework is important for every company to review in light of COVID-19, which has likely impacted how you interact with your customers.
Even if you have a mature VoC program, it’s important to re-assess it with a “beginner’s mind” in light of shifts in customer behavior.
Today, we're going to talk about the Building Phase.

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PeopleMetrics Building Phase Checklist

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A Fresh Look

In the Building Phase, companies either do not have VoC or need to reassess their current VoC program and create a fresh start.

The latter situation is applicable to almost all companies, as COVID-19 has no doubt changed something about the customer experience. In many cases, the customer experience has completely shifted to digital modes.

This phase normally lasts a year but can be reduced to 3 months with supreme focus, and because of its foundational nature, it’s an important step.

Get a Baseline

No matter your reason for looking to build your VoC, a good place to start in the Building Phase is with a relationship survey that asks customers how the overall relationship is going and how their overall experience has been.

NPS is often used in this survey, which helps pinpoint the strength of the customer–company relationship.

This is a great way to assess how customer needs and expectations have changed based on COVID-19. Do they expect new ways to interact with you? Are they happy with how and the speed in which they can get in touch with you? Have their needs and expectations changed? Has their ability to pay for your product or service changed? How does the experience they are having with your company NOW differ from competitors? These questions and more are answered with a well-crafted relationship survey.

The Moment of Truth

After you know where you stand based on the results of the relationship survey, you can then start to put together the building blocks of the core of your VoC program by selecting one touchpoint to focus on with a transactional survey.

This first touchpoint is usually easy to determine—it’s where you are likely to lose customers and experience churn if you don’t get it right. Has this changed based on recent events? Is this now a digital touchpoint? Are you measuring these digital experiences and improving them?

We call this a moment of truth, and it is a great place to begin. Moments of truth may involve the aforementioned digital experience (website visit, chat with customer service, app experience), calling into a contact center, and of course, traditional in-person experiences.

Connect The Dots

The next step is to figure out how to obtain the customer information needed from that moment of truth, so you can collect customer feedback on that experience.

For instance, who in your organization has the information about online chats via your web site? We are talking about specific information here—customer name, email address, time/date, name of customer service representative. Perhaps this lies with your IT department.

After that, it is key to determine how to get that customer information into your VoC software platform so surveys can automatically go out after an online chat in this example.

Set Goals

From here, you can progress to goal setting.

Goals usually include either overall customer satisfaction or NPS.

Another common goal is a certain percentage of surveys that contain a problem identified by a customer (in that case, the goal would be to have a score that is as low as possible).

Identify a Sponsor

The final step in the Building Phase is identifying a sponsor.

This is someone at the company who is passionate about CX, fully supports VoC, and will commit to seeing the process through.

Think company president or CEO for this role—you need their momentum before you can move into the next phase.


A key part of the Building Phase is to remember that if this is the first time your company has implemented VoC, you need to rely on experts to guide you.

Find an individual or organization, in-house or an outside partner, who knows the right questions to ask to the right customers at the right time.

An expert can help you identify that moment of truth touchpoint, communicate what’s going on to employees and key stakeholders, help you understand the initial results, and identify which findings should be shared with whom and when.

Don’t do all of this yourself—a good partner will save you time and money.

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About the Author

Sean McDade, PhD is the author of Listen or Die: 40 Lessons That Turn Customer Feedback Into Gold. He founded PeopleMetrics in 2001 and is the architect of the company’s customer experience management (CEM) software platform. As CEO, he guides the company’s vision and strategy. Sean has over 20 years of experience helping companies measure and improve the customer experience. Earlier in his career, he spent five years at the Gallup Organization, where he was the practice leader of their consulting division. His company offers CEM software with advanced machine learning solutions and hands-on analytical support to help companies make sense of their CX data. Sean holds a Ph.D. in Business Administration with a specialization in marketing science from Temple University in Philadelphia. He has published eight articles in peer-reviewed scholarly journals and has taught over 25 marketing classes. Sean was named a 40 under 40 award recipient of the Philadelphia region. He is an active Angel Investor, including investments in Tender Greens, CloudMine and Sidecar.

Topic: Customer Experience

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