Voice Of The Customer Staffing Levels

How many people does it take to run a voice of the customer (VoC) program? Well, the answer varies widely.

I examined responses from our Q3 2010 survey and found a healthy distribution of staffing levels for VoC programs within large companies. About half of the respondents have 2 or fewer full-time employees assigned to VoC programs while one quarter of respondents have six or more.

My take: Despite the variance in staffing levels, nearly all companies report positive results from their VoC programs. How can this be? Here are some reasons why this is the case:

  • Gaining additional insights about customers provides enormous value for companies; at just about any level of effort
  • Even with a small level of staffing, VoC programs can expose decision makers to unknown or under-appreciated realities about customers
  • With larger staffs, VoC programs can collect feedback across more touchpoints and deliver insights more frequently and more tailored to meet the needs of more people across the company
  • Many companies enroll people from business units to be VoC advocates within their organizations. These are not dedicated, full-time VoC employees, but they can help improve VoC results across the company

The bottom line: VoC programs come in lots of shapes and sizes

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.

9 Responses to Voice Of The Customer Staffing Levels

  1. This is great feedback to see. We are starting our VOC program at my company and these numbers are very interesting to see. As always, I get value from your postings and insights.

  2. Ingrid Lindberg says:

    Bruce-
    Thanks so much for the data and the post! I find it fascinating to see how spread out the distribution is between large and small staffing models. I’ve found in my experience that having a tight direct-report group, dedicated to the constituent voices, then a matrixed group distributed throughout the organization garners the best results. That way, you have a centralized area to analyze all of the data, but you have the feedback mechanisms and people to actually impact process embedded in their respective organizations! Great to see all the different models that are out there!
    Best,
    Ingrid

  3. Stewart Nash says:

    Bruce,

    Great post.. Just wondering, did your survey capture budget levels for each grouping? I’m wondering what kinds of budgets are being allocated for VOC programs at different staffing levels and organization structures.

    Thanks,
    Stewart Nash

  4. Chris Severn says:

    Interesting. I’ve not seen this research elsewhere. However I would add that since the scope and intent of VOC programs varies so widely it’s also hard to draw conclusions from this snippet. Perhaps more interesting would be to see trends re:
    1. Is your VOC program primarily a) a real-time feedback process for specific interactions, b) an in-depth survey on the whole brand, c) a complaints group with a fancy name, d) a combination, e) etc.
    2. Does your VOC program a) listen only, i.e. produce a report, b) listen and learn, i.e. produce real insights, c) listen, learn and act, i.e. also connect to continuous improvement and drive funded improvement projects?
    3. Is your VOC program aligned to a) marketing – driving insights for branding and offers, b) sales – driving insights for immediate revenue growth, c) service – improving delivery excellence d) all three and more.

    See what I mean? VOC team roles vary widely and it would be interesting to see these functional trends along with team sizes. Good thought provoker though.

    Regards,
    Chris. (customerexperience.com.au)

  5. andrew plunkett says:

    Hi Bruce, I’m a frequent reader but this is my first comment. My question is in your “Current State Of Customer Experience” paper, you state that “57% have a formalized voice of the customer (VoC) program”, But this is a group of fairly large companies. What percent of the 1.2M firms between 10 and 1,000 employees do you believe have a real VoC program? Even if they have only 1 or 2 VoC staff like the 34% in your study?

    Thanks,
    Andrew

  6. I actually find this post very informative and interesting. Specially because it tackles the issue about consumers. I do believe that it is always important to get some feedback from them. It will help you improve your weak points and at the same time emphasize your strengths. Because I do personally believe that when a person or a company stopped trying to learn or listen to others, that’s when the growth stops.

  7. Bruce Temkin says:

    Hi everyone:

    Thanks for your comments on this post.

    Stewart, this study did not go into specific budget levels (sorry!). Chris, I’ve published some of the types of data that you mention in the report “The State Of Voice Of The Customer Programs.” Andrew, I can’t really answer that question (and I don’t even have a “feel” for it). There are so many different types of small businesses that it would take a pretty large sample to figure out how many of them have formalized VoC programs.

  8. Patty says:

    Thanks, Bruce. I wonder if you can post a short answer that can help us understand how these companies may define the scope of their VoC programs/departments. Duties and accountabilities? Two staff members seems small.

    • Bruce Temkin says:

      Patty: I don’t think it takes a large staff to work with an outside vendor (market research company or customer insight and action (CIA) vendor) to establish a mechanism for getting regular feedback. With a limited staff, you need to be efficient at how you package the data/analysis/insights and with whom in the organization you spend time with to help them utilize the insights.

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