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Image courtesy of brittreints

What is your VOC approach? Are you listening to customers, or still/only asking?

As part of the CX Day celebration earlier this week, I moderated two Google Hangouts, one for Australia and one for the Pacific Time Zone. In the former, we discussed the state of customer experience in Australia, while in the latter, our topic was the shift in VOC efforts, from asking to listening.

What do I mean by that? Traditionally, VOC (voice of the customer) has been captured by surveys or some other form of structured feedback, initiated by the company, i.e., the ask. As the approach to VOC (and tools and technology for both companies and customers) has evolved, listening has become a large part of the program; it means that the customer provides feedback on his terms, in his preferred mode, typically initiated by him in response to some stimulus or interaction. Listening includes social media (Twitter, Facebook, Yelp, TripAdvisor, etc.), customer immersion, customer advisory councils (could also be a type of ask), voice of the customer through the employee (sales, customer service, etc.), CRM data, and more.

Prior to CX Day, John Cass interviewed Hangout participants to get some insights into our topics of conversation. When he asked my panel, including Yvonne Nomizu and Lynn Hunsaker, about our topic, I was also given the opportunity to weigh in. I told John:

When companies listen instead of ask, the customer is in the VOC driver seat. Customers provide feedback on their terms, when, where, and how they prefer, e.g., social media, review sites, discussions with employees. This adds a social element – it’s no longer just between the customer and the keyboard or the customer and the interviewer – and doesn’t allow companies to shove feedback in a binder somewhere, never to be seen again. On the contrary, it forces companies to pay attention, though I realize many still don’t. Asking for feedback is like lobbing a question over the net, while listening is more like volleying. Asking puts the onus on the customer; listening puts the onus on the company.

Here’s the video of the Google Hangout on this topic; watch it (it’s only about 20 minutes long) to get Lynn’s and Yvonne’s perspectives on this topic.

 Is it OK to do just one or the other? Do they work together? They sure do work together! Lynn suggests that we “augment our listening by asking very effective questions that delve into the clarification of your assumptions.”

Yvonne suggests that asking still has its place. Surveys can size or quantify the voice. Listening adds the depth, i.e., what they want, how they interact, etc., which provides the opportunity to innovate. Asking also adds context, whereas social media doesn’t always provide the context around why they are saying what they are saying. Lynn added that having that context allows you to segment customers in a meaningful way

It’s confirmed. Surveys are not a dying breed, as many would suggest. Surveys are here to stay.

A happy customer tells a friend; an unhappy customer tells the world. -Unknown