Collecting, analyzing, and using voice-of-the-customer (VOC) data isn’t nearly as simple as it sounds. All VOC programs follow the same basic cyclical process of listening, analyzing, and acting, but each part of the process comes with its own challenges. We can help you clear those hurdles.

Cycle graphic of the voice-of-the-customer process: listen,analyze, act, repeat

Listen

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How do you decide what to listen to? There are myriad customer feedback channels, or listening posts, that utilities have access to. So many that it’s impractical to expect utilities to monitor them all. Are you keeping a pulse on your Yelp reviews? Participating in Reddit conversations? Not only is it a struggle to keep pace with the growing number of listening posts, it’s also difficult to know which feedback channels hold the most valuable customer feedback. Does feedback on social media carry as much weight in your organization as survey responses do?

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Balance feedback channels. You can’t realistically listen in on every feedback channel. You can, however, aim to strike a balance between opposing types of listening posts. Solicited feedback, such as that derived from a focus group, can be counterbalanced by unsolicited feedback, such as that provided through social media. Quantitative data that tracks scores over time will be enhanced by qualitative data from surveys’ open-response fields.

Analyze

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How do you bring data together in a usable way? If you’re collecting customer feedback from multiple listening posts, you can often solve one problem and create another. Analyzing one data source is fairly straightforward, but reviewing multiple data sources makes analytics far more complex. One of the biggest challenges in VOC analytics is deciding which insights are valuable.

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Clarify the scope of the problem you’re trying to solve. If you’re attempting to solve a brandwide perception issue, you need to focus the lens on something specific. For instance, identify the key moments of truth that have the most impact on customers’ view of your brand. Alternatively, if you’re seeking to improve a specific transaction, think about where this transaction fits into the larger journey the customer is experiencing. Once you’ve gotten the context of the problem, it becomes more clear how all the data fits together in an actionable way. You’ll know what the end use of that data will be and how it will affect the broader scope.

Act

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How do you leverage customer feedback in business decisions? Doing what’s right for the customer often requires a long-term investment that sacrifices short-term gains. That’s a big part of the reason customer feedback faces so much opposition in some organizations. It can be tough to do what’s right!

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Engage stakeholders early in the decision-making process. Before you start your analysis of VOC data, let your stakeholders know what your hypothesis is and which steps you’re going to take to reach a conclusion. Ask the decision-making stakeholders if there’s anything they’re particularly curious about. Ask them what they’d be surprised to find and how they see this data impacting their decision. An added benefit of this approach is that you’ll be able to fine-tune how you collect VOC to meet organizational needs, thus completing the VOC management cycle.

During “Voice-of-the-Customer Data: A User’s Manual,” a Thursday morning session at the 2016 E Source Forum, we’ll hear from utility industry experts on how they’ve handled the three stages of VOC management. Our speakers have been digging up fascinating insights on customers’ perspectives to change the way their organizations do business. Register for Forum so you can hear directly from the pros and ask them your burning questions. See you in Denver, September 13–16!

Contributing Authors

Analyst, Customer Experience

Keenan Samuelson focuses on strategies to enhance the utility customer experience. He spends the majority of his time researching how to optimize...