Are VoC platforms worth the investment?

​This month, a couple of people have asked me why they should invest in a VoC platform instead of using a survey tool such as SurveyMonkey®. I was a bit taken aback when I heard about this because, from what I can remember about survey tools from my student years, they were so simplistic that there was little to compare, and the needs of a student are definitely not the needs of the large companies I work with today. 

So I re-educated myself on survey tool  capabilities and my feeling is that, unlike VoC platforms, they are not aligned to the needs of companies, and are not aimed at making your life easy on these four points:

Capturing feedback:  
  • Survey tools are not as automated as VoC platforms. For instance, a simple survey tool would demand from users that they manually extract data files, de-duplicate customer contacts and poll customers, while all of these operations won’t require human intervention when a proper VoC platform is set up. Also, because these activities are systematically performed by a machine, they are less prone to error.
  • VoC platforms allow for whole company alignment on customer polling. Data received from different sources within the enterprise are centralised in a VoC solution so that customers are not over-polled should their details appear more than once across different channels over a specific period of time. In a VoC hub, internal silos are broken down so it’s easier to ensure consistency amongst the different surveys that are sent to customers.
  • Additionally, a survey tool wouldn’t allow you to be multi-channel when polling. With a VoC platform though, you can pick between SMS, email-to-web, web intercept, SMS-to-web, IVR, mobile app, etc. based on your customers’ preferred communication channels.
  • Finally, VoC platforms often come with analytics tools. As customers complete the survey, these tools will “understand” customers’ structured and unstructured responses in real time (for example, if they write a comment rather than giving a rating). This creates a real-time dialog with adaptive answers and questions from the system. This practice maximises response rates and completion rates.
Ability to derive insights

So VoC platforms have very sophisticated tools that enable companies to analyze unstructured data in ways never imagined before. Thanks to real-time advanced text & voice analytics, companies today can identify the high level themes mentioned by customers in their comments, the sub-themes, the sentiment behind each message and the trending of key topics. At best, a survey tool will only give their clients the possibility to build their own categories through word searches.  Aiming to mirror the performance of a VoC text analytic engine with such a simple solution is simply unrealistic. 

​Ability to drive action
  • VoC platforms generate real-time alerts and insights. Not only do they allow for reactive individual customer recovery, but also for flagging statistically significant changes in the feedback to spot potentially unnoticed issues so that companies can rectify them in a timely manner. 
  • User-friendly dashboards oriented towards action are not available with surveying tools, but are standard in VoC platforms. They give access to up-to-date feedback attached to different hierarchical levels in the company, right down to customer-facing employees. This allows for efficient and relevant individual coaching sessions based on the Voice of the Customer. A practical response manager (case management) interface can be another feature of VoC dashboards. Used by retention advisors when contacting customers back following their feedback, a VoC dashboard provides a single location for all the information related to the survey response, as well as details around the next actions taken.
Ability to integrate with your systems:

Most of a VoC platforms outputs – mainly customer structured and unstructured feedback and text and voice analysis – can be integrated to other tools that your company might use on a daily basis for complementary purposes: workforce management, quality monitoring, CRM, etc. Being able to automatically connect VoC data to these systems optimises employees’ efforts as they won’t have to look for information around a single customer, a single agent or a single transaction type in different sources, as they would have to do with a simple survey tool.

In a nutshell, if you simply want to collect one time survey data, simple survey tools seem enough. But if you want to have the means to professionally operationalize and act on your customer’s feedback, think again, and be ready to opt for a full VoC platform that will bring your data to life as well as driving a significant ROI for your company.
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