Hands of the Customer

posted by Brian J. Curran

Lately, my inbox has been swamped with messages promoting the greatness of VOC: “How to Build an Effective VOC Program”, or “Ten Things Your VOC Program Needs to be Successful”, etc. To make matters worse, VOC is discussed  ad nauseum in leading customer service and customer care professional networks and communities. Of course, I’m not referring to Volatile Organic Compounds and their toxicity to people. I’m talking about a subject almost as combustible: The right way to think about Voice of the Customer.

Now don’t get me wrong, I believe strongly in the importance and value of customer insight, as well as the criticality of driving customer empathy deep into an organization’s DNA, but do we really need another program with an acronym (or worse – a code name) designed for listening to our customers? My biggest fear is that the program itself becomes the primary focus, and we lose the essence of what’s really important. Action. Innovation. Transformation.

I’m a soccer (football to my friends around the globe) guy, and I often use the game to help illustrate my point. In the case of VOC, there are really only two approaches: 1) Continue to record the action on the pitch (i.e. remain a scorekeeper), or 2) decide to put one in the net (i.e. become a player).

Sometimes, when I engage with a brand on my own, things can go badly. Afterwards, if they send me surveys asking for feedback, I’ll fill them out. Yet despite my feedback, and the feedback from other customers receiving bad service, nothing changes. I’m sure I’m part of a report that provides precise data to these companies regarding my expectations, needs, emotions, etc., but again, nothing changes. This is my point: I suspect these VOC programs are engaged in score-keeping, and are not serious about trying to move the ball forward.

My challenge to you: Instead of using the words “Voice of the Customer”, we should change the name to “Hands of the Customer”. Let’s roll up our sleeves and make actual changes to the experiences we deliver to our customers, and focus energy on making those experiences useful, usable and meaningful.

Let’s show-up at leadership meetings with reports in hand, as well as plans to drive action using principles of good design and agile development. Designing innovations for customers should utilize testing and learning to capture customer feedback, ultimately leading to change and a value exchange (brands : customers). Heck, if we need a new acronym, then let’s use ADHOC            (Already Doing Hands of the Customer)

As always, I invite your comments or to engage with me personally at brian.curran@oracle.com

Originally posted on LinkedIn