Turn Voice of the Customer Into Competitive Advantage

IT can lead the charge to give the customer a full voice and the enterprise unprecedented insights into its customers.

It’s an old business adage: The customer is always right.

Yet, for you to always do right by the customer, you must know what they are saying. Too often, the voice of the customer (VoC) gets lost across multiple data collection points, mired in separate systems, and trapped in departmental silos. IT can lead the charge to unify this data, giving the customer a full voice and the enterprise unprecedented insights into its customers.

Tapping into the VoC is Level 2 in an organization’s journey toward customer experience maturity. In our companion article, CIOs Play a Vital Role in Customer Experience, we focused on the role CIOs need to play in guiding the enterprise toward customer experience maturity and where to start. In this article, we focus on how IT leaders can turn the VoC into a competitive advantage.

“IT leaders supporting marketing and broader CRM initiatives need to understand the strategic value an integrated VoC program can bring to the company,” said Jim Davies, research director at Gartner.

“Many VoC technologies are often associated with one department, such as speech analytics in the contact center, which complicates access to relevant data and requires each department manager to support the initiative,” Davies said. “IT leaders will need to drive a more centralized approach, source data and integrate siloed applications.”

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IT leaders must take these key steps:

Unravel the complexity of organizational ownership for VoC

Ownership is crucial for any VoC initiative. Ideally, it falls to a centralized, enterprise-wide team. Yet, too often it is thrust upon marketing and the CMO, limiting the scope and effectiveness. That is where IT comes in. “IT looks across the whole organization and is ideally suited to communicate the shared benefits of a common approach to VoC,” Davies said.

IT can identify who should lead, what broader alignment might exist beyond marketing, and push for creation of an independent, customer experience management (CEM) role.

IT leaders must create a centralized data hub that mines everything from customer tweets to Web interactions and surveys.

IT leaders must show marketing and other business leaders the benefits a VoC initiative will yield. The level of support varies by a company’s CEM maturity. Still, IT’s enterprise-wide view offers an optimal position to determine benefits for different areas of the business (i.e., marketing vs. customer service) and budgetary allocations based on individual business outcomes. IT leaders can identify the proper technologies needed to drive success.

Educate marketing on the impact of cross-domain VoC technologies Integrate VoC technologies from the many siloed departments

A holistic VoC initiative gives the enterprise access to data it could not previously mine. IT leaders supporting customer relationship management (CRM) must determine points of integration and educate marketing leaders on the various possibilities and benefits. IT leaders must create a centralized data hub that mines everything from customer tweets to Web interactions and surveys. IT leaders must promote the right business intelligence tools and integration across CRM applications.

IT looks across the whole organization and is ideally suited to communicate the shared benefits of a common approach to VoC.

IT leaders supporting marketing must educate themselves on the benefits of a VoC initiative. They then must help marketing take a more strategic role and promote VoC benefits across the enterprise. IT leaders must help acquire and integrate data from the various sources. Develop role-based dashboards for key performance indicators.

Communicate the Business Benefits of VoC Technologies for Marketing and the Roles Impacted
Customers’ voices are screaming to be heard, but they are scattered across the enterprise. IT leaders, with their enterprise-wide view of systems and processes, can take a leading role in VoC initiatives to tap into new data streams and create a more powerful competitive advantage.

 

Gartner clients can read more in the research note “How IT Leaders Supporting Marketing Can Drive Voice-of-the-Customer Initiatives” by Jim Davies.

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