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Frequently Asked Questions

Voice of the Customer




Basic Definitions

What is Voice of the Customer?

Voice of the Customer (or “VOC”) is an umbrella term used to describe the process businesses use to capture feedback from customers on their experiences, expectations, and preferences. Our Voice of the Customer solution is a combination of our current-state assessment (or "Wows and Woes Study") and our CustomerMetrics solution (for ongoing customer feedback management).

For a primer on Voice of the Customer, you can also watch our video here.


What is closed-loop feedback?

A closed-loop feedback program gives companies the tools and guidance they need to follow up on each piece of customer feedback.

There are little and big feedback loops.


A little loop involves following up with an individual customer based upon his or her feedback and taking a specific action in response to that feedback.

A big loop involves looking across customer feedback in aggregate and identifying a common issue or opportunity to improve the customer experience. The closed loop, in this instance, is the identification of the issue, followed by a change or initiative to address that issue and improve the experience.

Generally speaking, quality CEM (Customer Experience Management) is an ongoing exercise in managing feedback as it comes in, addressing it, and closing loops.

What is a customer touchpoint?

A touchpoint is any point of contact between a customer and a company during which an exchange of information, service, or transaction occurs.

What is a moment of truth?

Some touchpoints are more crucial than others. A moment of truth is a touchpoint that could make or break the relationship between a customer and a business. It’s a touchpoint that leaves a lasting impression (positive or negative) on the customer’s opinion of the company.

What is NPS, or Net Promoter Score?

Net Promoter Score is a popular measure of customer advocacy. Many organizations are adopting this overall metric to assess the health of their customer experience and relationships. The metric or score relies on customers' responses to a single survey item: “How likely is it that you would recommend [Company Name] to a friend or colleague?” The response scale is from “0,” not at all likely, to “10,” extremely likely. Customers are grouped into three different segments based upon their answers:

  • Promoters: Give 9’s and 10’s on the 11-point scale;
  • Passives: Give 7’s and 8’s; and
  • Detractors: Give ratings of 0-6.

To get to the Net Promoter Score, one takes the % of Promoters and subtracts the % of Detractors.

What is customer satisfaction?

Customer Satisfaction (or “CSAT”) is one of the earlier constructs used in customer opinion surveying. It usually relies on a single question such as, “Overall, how satisfied are you with the company’s products and services?”

Unfortunately, this metric is harder to tie to business results than some of the other metrics available. A customer may be satisfied but that does not mean that they will consider your business over the alternatives, spend more with you, or tell their friends and family about the experience.

What is customer engagement?

Customer engagement is a measure of how much a customer is engaged with a company. PeopleMetrics independent research has demonstrated that organizations with higher levels of customer engagement have superior business performance, making it a much stronger metric than customer satisfaction.

Our Customer Engagement Index measures a customer’s behaviors and attitudes toward an organization using four key dimensions: Retention, Effort, Advocacy, and Passion.

What is the customer effort score (CES)?

In 2010, a new metric emerged from the desire for businesses to reduce complexity and difficulty in their customer relationships. The focus for many companies was making it easy for customers to do business with them. The customer effort question is: "How much effort did you personally have to put forth to handle your request?" The 5-point response scale goes from 1 (much less effort than expected) to 5 (much more effort than expected).

How is transactional Voice of the Customer different from market research?

Voice of the Customer differs from market research in several important ways:

  1. Feedback is not anonymous, but tied to individual customers, so employees and teams can follow up.
  2. Feedback is collected and shared in real-time.
  3. Data is available online in real-time, meaning no wait time for analysis and reporting. Companies can track key metrics, themes, sentiment, and trends at any time.
  4. Surveys are short, targeted at the most recent interaction, and designed to be an enjoyable experience for customers.
  5. Surveys are mobile-friendly. Short feedback forms lend themselves to being easily presented and completed on any mobile device. Longer market research surveys do not work as well on mobile devices.
What is text analytics? How does it work?

Text analytics is a technology that enables analysis of, and discovery of trends within, large volumes of qualitative or open-ended feedback. Text analytics software is good at reviewing text in large quantities (i.e., text mining) and assigning basic meaning or a positive/negative emotional tone (i.e., sentiment analysis).




Voice of the Customer Implementation

What benefits does a professional Voice of the Customer program provide?

Voice of the Customer (VOC) is a common element of any customer experience improvement program. Here are some benefits associated with VOC:

  1. Getting closer to your customers—gaining a deeper understanding of who they are, what they need, and how well your business is delivering to their needs and expectations.
  2. Improving customer retention, customer loyalty, and customer engagement.
  3. Spreading positive sentiment and word-of-mouth.
  4. Improving Net Promoter Score (or NPS).
  5. Identifying priorities for customer experience improvement to drive resource and budget allocation decisions.
  6. Differentiating against the competition.
  7. Repairing or resolving customer issues and customer problems in real-time.
  8. Driving operational efficiencies and cost savings.
  9. Identifying opportunities to grow revenue and expand customer lifetime value.
  10. Building and sustaining a customer-centric culture.
What are the risks in not having a Voice of the Customer program?

Not having a VOC program in place can leave you blind to the needs of your customers and any issues they’re having while interacting with your company. One of our clients, Karl Baker, SVP of Sales & Marketing at American Hotel Register said it best:

"As I look forward, it's increasingly important for any organization to seek a Voice of the Customer solution. The reality is, in the world we live in, information is power. And without adequate information about what is working, and potentially what isn't working, within each organization, it's putting the organization at risk. It's putting the organization at a real disadvantage."
What risks should we be aware of when starting a customer experience program centered on Voice of the Customer?

The biggest risk is not getting started. Failure to listen to your customers, understand their needs, and drive relevant actions are huge risks to any organization. But once you decide to implement a program to improve customer experience, other risks include:

  • Failure to secure and maintain leadership support. Without a solid, unwavering focus on the customer from the top of the organization, the program—and your goals for customer centricity—will likely fall short.
  • Failure to take action on customer feedback.
  • Failure to analyze customer feedback surveys in aggregate, or getting lost in the data. (It’s imperative to identify the one thing you need to do next to make the biggest difference in the customer experience.)
  • Failure to share feedback with the organization. Sharing feedback habitually is one of the quickest ways to gain traction toward your goals of customer centricity.
  • Failure building ROI metrics into the program.
Why shouldn’t we just build our own Voice of the Customer program?

Simply put, it’s difficult to design a program that performs better than those offered by Voice of the Customer providers. Partnering with a customer experience consultant means:

  1. Lower cost of ownership and less capital outlay;
  2. Faster implementation, so you can get started addressing customer issues right away;
  3. A more secure and powerful IT infrastructure; and
  4. Customer engagement experts to help you ask the right questions, share best practices, and direct you toward the most effective actions.
Can’t we just use Survey Monkey?

Survey Monkey and similar surveying platforms work great if you know the questions to ask and want to gather data across customers or within a segment of customers. You can learn about who your customers are and what their preferences are, in aggregate, through such platforms.

The challenge is getting the information on individual customers to the right people to take action at the right time. Surveying platforms like Survey Monkey provide the ability to survey audiences, but they lack the customer experience management capabilities of formal Voice of the Customer software. They don't easily support closing the loop on customer feedback, and they rely on internal expertise in crafting the right questions and analyzing the responses.

If we have a variety of customer channels, how do we choose which touchpoints to ask for feedback on?

It is wise to begin with a current-state assessment (like our Wows and Woes study) to determine the most impactful moments in your customers' journey or lifecycle with you./p>

If a primary study is not feasible, you can learn a lot from talking to frontline employees and managers about where they see the greatest pain points, based upon what they hear from customers. You can also search for insights in industry publications and other publicly available sources to help you prioritize. And finally, you can also consider Customer Journey Mapping as an initial step.

To determine where to focus your customer experience strategy, you should consider the following questions:

  • Where in the customer lifecycle do our customers feel the most pain?
  • What are our most common customer complaints?
  • When in their journey do we typically get questions or confusion?
  • When do we get the most kudos or positive feedback? What is working particularly well?
  • What issues are we unable to resolve in the first contact?
  • When do customers most typically choose to leave us?
  • Why do they churn?
What internal resources do we need to support a Voice of the Customer program?

The answer depends upon the size of your company and the volume of customer feedback you expect. At the very least, you need the following:

  • An organizational champion, preferably a member of the C-suite who is supportive of gathering and acting on feedback.
  • A program owner, with a passion for the customer experience, exceptional project management skills, and the ability to influence others in the organization.
  • An analyst, with some analytical prowess, as well as the ability to access CRM and business information systems to link survey feedback to your other customer data. (This person might also access and organize the customer information file that you will use to send survey invitations. If not, you may need another resource in IT to help with that.)
  • Close the Loopers, who are responsible for acting on the feedback. Large, B2C organizations tend to have a team of people who are responsible for closing loops with customers. They are often a subset of the customer-care organization and take action on the survey feedback that is collected—by reaching out to offer support or gratitude to customers who have shared their perceptions.
What sorts of survey metrics do you recommend we include in our customer experience management?

The short answer is that the metric you choose should reflect the goals you have set for your business. Are you trying to improve customer satisfaction? Shooting for customer retention? Looking to deliver an effortless experience? Or are you residing firmly in the customer loyalty camp? Your chosen metric should be an indicator of your success toward stated goals.

What methods do you recommend for collecting customer feedback?

The methods you use to capture customer feedback depend upon the type of business you are in and the quality and depth of customer contact information available.

  • If you have a database of customer email addresses, use them. It is cost-effective and will generate data for you relatively quickly.
  • If this information is not available, as is the case for restaurants or brick-and-mortar retail establishments, Point of Sale (POS) surveys, in-store tablets, tent cards, and tear sheets are all methods you can use.
  • SMS surveys work well if you have permission to send text messages to your customers.
  • Monitoring and analyzing feedback on social channels can also be an important source of insights.
Who takes customer feedback surveys anyway?

We get this question from many of our clients. Perhaps a more relevant question is: “Are the customers who complete surveys representative of the customers we are trying to attract and retain?”

What we do know is that across clients, when one compares demographic characteristics, such as age, gender, geographic location (or in the B2B world, sector, company size, services used, etc.), the survey sample invariably looks like the actual population. Typically, the percentage of people who respond to the customer experience survey in a given category is within a margin of error of the proportion of this same category in the total customer population.

What we do not know is whether survey takers have different perceptions or experiences, as we cannot compare their responses to those who do not participate.

Over time, however, we have been able to examine spend and buying behavior among survey takers and non-survey takers across clients. In general, we have found that prospects and customers who take the time to give feedback tend to be more positive, more engaged, and more likely to be loyal over time than those who do not. Thus, there is much to be learned from non-responders and actions that can be taken to try to engage them.

How often should we ask for feedback from our customers?

For transactional surveys, we recommend inviting feedback from customers as close to the event as possible. Some of our clients send survey invitations "in moment" or minutes after a visit to a retail establishment. Others send daily. Others, for whom an experience extends into days or weeks, collect feedback at the point when the experience should have been complete.

For Wows and Woes or other deep-dive, current-state studies, we recommend an annual assessment from a random sample of customers or clients.

What kind of response rate should we expect?

The response rate you should anticipate depends on your industry, the chosen methodology, and the quality of your customer information. In specialized, high-value transactions such as business-to-business or luxury experiences, you can expect response rates in the 30-60% range. In high-volume, low-value, more-commoditized businesses you may be looking at anywhere from 1% to 10%.

What should we do with non-responders?

As noted previously, non-response can be indicative of a customer feeling less engaged or invested in your company and its services.

Initially, many of our clients use reminder emails to re-invite non-responders to participate. If they still do not reply, the customer or prospect is typically flagged as such. Sometimes special actions are taken, including personal outreach from an executive at the company—assuming the customer is of high enough value—or a special offer or other mechanism to try to re-engage the customer.

Analyzing non-responders in aggregate and over time is a key piece of information that can deliver extra insights and even predictive power.

What types of customer feedback should we follow up on?

At the very least, organizations should follow up on problems that remain unresolved. Any customer who notes an issue in a customer feedback survey that is not getting sufficient attention deserves a call or email from a company representative.

However, our recommendation is that every piece of feedback should drive a specific action related to its type. For example, a customer expressing a need for additional services should be contacted to discuss additional opportunities to support and help them. A customer expressing an exceptional experience and outstanding support from a company representative should be thanked for their feedback, and the individual receiving the kudos should be told. A customer with a suggestion for improvement should be acknowledged, and then that suggestion should be considered with others when priorities for improving customer experience or channel design are considered.




About PeopleMetrics Voice of the Customer

How many questions do your typical surveys include?

A transactional survey typically includes 6-12 questions.

Our in-depth, current-state assessment, called the "Wows and Woes study," typically includes 40-60 survey questions.

What information do you need from us in order to capture and analyze feedback?

At the very minimum, we need the customer name and email address (or other contact information). However, common additional information includes demographic and spend/purchase behavior.

Are your surveys based on quantitative, ratings questions, or do you also include comments?

Both. We are believers in the power of qualitative, text-based feedback to help our clients uncover trends, understand what their customers really mean, and take targeted and specific action. Most of our surveys include at least one open-ended, comment-based question, although many have up to four different questions presented to customers depending upon their prior survey responses.

The exception to this is among our pharmaceutical clients, who for legal and compliance reasons, tend to prefer not to include open-ended, text-based questions.

How do you avoid survey fatigue, as in over-surveying customers?

Our system has a built in feature to automatically check the last date that a given customer received a survey invitation. We establish, with our clients, agreed rules for frequency of surveying. Best practice guidelines are to survey any given customer no more than once every three months.

Do your customer feedback surveys ever expire?

They can, but they do not have to.

We can expire any customer feedback or customer engagement survey based on a specified time period since initiation was issued (as in number weeks or months). Or they can remain active for the term of our contract. We have clients using both methods.

Since an old experience can be stale and feedback less relevant, our preference is to expire survey invitations after a defined period of time. That said, many of clients do not take this approach, believing that any response they receive is valid, and a customer deserves to be heard no matter the timing.

Are your customer feedback surveys anonymous?

Our surveys are not anonymous. That allows the right representative in the organization the opportunity to take action on the feedback at the individual customer or account level. Sometimes, we offer customers a choice, and they can select to have their feedback be shared anonymously.

What are some examples of actions your clients have taken as a result of customer feedback strategies?

Here are some high-level examples of client actions based on customer feedback:

  1. Website re-designs based upon customer feedback and needs;
  2. Updating client-accessible technology across the worldwide system of airport bases at Signature Flight Support, based upon customer-derived improvement suggestions;
  3. Launching an internal Brand Ambassador program to tap into the expertise of top performing employees, in the eyes of their customers;
  4. Rigorous customer experience training programs developed around the core drivers (or Guiding Principles) of the desired customer experience; and
  5. Improved communication standards related to service outages for a B2B Telco.

You can also learn more about actions our clients have taken by watching these videos:

What are some results your clients have seen through customer experience improvement?

Our clients are benefiting from:

  1. Increased Net Promoter Scores (NPS) and Client Engagement ratings;
  2. Lower customer churn;
  3. Increased spend at the account level; and
  4. Growth among target client segments.
Does your system also incorporate social feedback?

Yes. We are able to incorporate social customer feedback shared on channels such as Twitter, Facebook, Yelp, Open Table, Trip Advisor, and others.

Is your Voice of the Customer feedback system secure?

Yes. We can talk specifics if you want them. just contact us.

Do your surveys work on mobile devices?

Yes. And we're continously working on improving our mobile design.

What other services and support do you provide?

Our goal is to guide our clients on their journey to customer centricity. We see our CustomerMetrics customer experience improvement program (our Voice of the Customer platform) as an essential part of that journey. The other services that we offer to help build customer-centric cultures can be found on Our Solutions page.

While we have proprietary technology to help our clients capture and act on feedback, we also have a team of data scientists who are able to take data you may already have from your key constituents and derive insights and direction from it. Their goal is to provide you with the One Thing you need to focus on next for the greatest return on your customer centricity goals.

Why should we consider partnering with PeopleMetrics?

Our purpose is to help companies on their journey to customer centricity. Companies that put customers at the heart of their business are more successful, and their employees and customers also win. We care deeply about the relationships between employees, organizations, customers, and business results—and we’ve focused on these relationships since our inception in 2001.

You can learn more about us by jumping to our Why We’re Different page.

How much will this cost my organization?

Programs range from a minimum of $30,000 per annum up to $1,000,000+ for our largest, most-customized partnerships.

The typical ongoing Voice of the Customer program for a mid-sized business is $90,000 per annum. This includes the design and administration of ongoing transactional surveys, real-time alerts, access to your online PeopleMetrics dashboards and data analysis tools. It also includes regular push reports of key metrics and insights, text analytics on all open-ended data (assuming sufficient volume), a dedicated CX Manager, and the support of an analyst who will help you identify hidden insights in your customer feedback.




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