Voice Of The Customer Needs More Maturity

While the ultimate goal for any Voice of The Customer (VoC) program should be to infuse customer insight into every decision within an organization, not many of these efforts have achieved that lofty goal. As it turns out, companies are at four different levels of VoC maturity.

  1. Collectors. At the first stage of maturity, VoC leaders are caught up in just getting data. They spend most of their time focused on discussions about identifying the right “listening posts,” choosing the questions to ask, and debating the metrics to use.
  2. Analyzers. At the second level of maturity, VoC programs do a lot of data crunching. They find interesting and novel ways for uncovering insights about what’s working and what’s not working in the business. They have some cross-functional processes setup, but the group is not very well integrated with the rest of the company. The data they share with other organizations is often mostly standardized.
  3. Collaborators. At the third level of maturity, VoC programs have strong relationships with other parts of their business. They’ve developed processes for tailoring data and insights to meet the needs of other organizations and support continuous improvement efforts.
  4. Transformers. At the final stage of maturity, VoC programs link customer insight data into most of the proceses throughout their company, from operational activities to strategic decision making. They help organizations throughout the company change how they operate to take advantage of feedback and other customer insight data.

Based on my very unscientific analysis, I would estimate that the distribution of VoC progams is as follows:

  • Collectors: 40%
  • Analyzers: 40%
  • Collaborators: 18%
  • Transformers: 2%

Only one out of 5 VoC programs have reached the “Collaborator” level, which is the minimum level that all VoC leaders should be aiming to achieve.

The bottom line: VoC programs have a lot of room to grow(-up)

About Bruce Temkin, CCXP
I am a customer experience transformist, helping large organizations improve business results by changing how they deal with customers. As part of this focus, I examine strategy, culture, interaction design, customer service, branding and leadership practices. I am also a fanatical student of business, so this blog provides an outlet for sharing insights from my ongoing educational journey. Simply put, I am passionate about spotting emerging best practices and helping companies master them. And, as many people know, I love to speak about these topics in almost any forum. My “title” is Managing Partner of the Temkin Group, a customer experience research and consulting firm that helps organizations become more customer-centric. Our goal is simple: accelerate the path to delighting customers. I am also the co-founder and Emeritus Chair of the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA.org), a non-profit organization dedicated to the success of CX professionals.

8 Responses to Voice Of The Customer Needs More Maturity

  1. Guess Transformers are where the rubber meets the road? Not surprising you see only 2%… since this is where transfomative changes occurs and most large entities don;t rewared transformative thinking.

    My guess is Trader Joe has succeeded partlu to being a Transformer.

    Dom

  2. Cameron Karr says:

    Change mgmt is hardest part – without exec-level sponsorship (and funding) the improvement projects never get off ground. To gain sponsorship you need to provide compelling business case for change. (That’s where those actionable insights come into play)

    Avoid trying to boil ocean at first. Propose a mix of some low-hanging fruit projects with ROI under 6 months to gain traction w exec team/prove value, then go for BHAGS after that. Need more info? Talk to experts at http://www.implementationpartners.com who go beyond Lean into Engaged Team Performance – cool stuff that works.

  3. Jason says:

    I like Transformers. To bad to many of us are stuck on the 1 and 2 level so to speak. Great article!

  4. Brian says:

    Could not agree more. Major issue I have seen is that often execs within one company are philosophically at these different priority levels. If the C-Level does not agree on transformation as the goal…. well, we all know the answer to that.

  5. Majid Rizvi says:

    Bruce – Agree with your assessment.

    Looking inside out, autonomy, hence the culture within the different departments of the organization impacts the overall maturity. understanding the entire customer life cycle and collaboratively resolving it continues to be a challenge (although be it political) and the company at the end of the day is on the losing end as the customer has no loyalty and can move on in most cases.

    One view of the customer through CRM solutions are making a big difference in the retail industry where there is no loyalty.

    Perhaps in due time as the traditional executives retire and are replaced by the newer generation we might see the % of transformers go up

  6. Bruce–

    I think the difference is between companies that are embarking on a program (most) and those companies where serving the customer IS their business (unfortunately few). It would be interesting to see how many companies actually complete the maturation journey you outline….versus those that start out that way and as time goes on, institutionalize their overall approach.

    My bet is that most companies in the “transformative” stage were born there versus those that evolved to get there.

  7. patrick buono says:

    With all the discussion about being more customer-centric and service not product features or price becoming the compelling competitive differentiators (and customers acting on those premises) why still do so many companies with the financial capability to invest in change fail to embark on the journey or begin only to fall short aggregating (near 80%) at the lower two levels? I think the customer revolution (voting with their wallet) still has a way to go…but its moving in the rght direction.

  8. Pingback: Who Needs More Data? | Allegiance Engagement & Loyalty Blog

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