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Building a continuous monitoring strategy into voice of the customer (VoC) initiatives can help organizations better gauge the effectiveness of their VoC outreach.

A 360-degree view of customers and their feedback can help businesses uncover patterns, discover existing feedback gaps or zero in on where the best improvements are being made.

Consistently monitoring contact center calls and converting speech to text to be mined for themes and sentiment, looking at digital behavior and analyzing social media posts are just some additional signals customers create that brands can leverage.

“In fact, by broadening the customer signals your company captures, you can create a more robust picture of evolving needs around your products and services,” said Bill Staikos, SVP, evangelist and head of community engagement at Medallia.

He pointed out that if the pandemic has taught us anything, it's that customer needs can change quickly. And it’s not limited to digital solutions or demands for curbside pickup. More macro trends, like where people are relocating to, also evolved quickly, changing the demographics of markets and demand for different products.

“Continuously monitoring what your customers are saying allows companies to pick up these signals in real-time, change their strategy or product and deliver before competitors can capitalize on changing needs,” Staikos said.

Resolving Customer Issues in Real-Time

Eric Smuda, principal of CX strategy and enablement at InMoment, explained that continuous monitoring is critical for two reasons. The first is to identify and resolve customer issues in real-time.

“An effective closed-loop process reduces churn, increases customer lifetime value and can add additional revenue,” said Smuda.

The second critical reason for continuous monitoring is to reinforce a culture of and commitment to constant improvement by testing changes and understanding their impact in real-time, rather than waiting for periodic updates.

“Continuous monitoring should be a core component of every VOC program to detect and respond to customer needs and changes more rapidly,” Smuda added.

Like Staikos, Smuda noted that customer expectations constantly change, and forces outside a company’s particular industry often drive these expectations.

“Relying on periodic monitoring or reviews is effectively setting yourself up to constantly be in catch-up mode,” Smuda said.

In terms of applying continuous monitoring to a VOC program, businesses must have a suite of tools to make it happen.

“A team of humans could not do this, nor would you have your VOC team working 24/7 in order to be constantly monitoring feedback,” explained Staikos.

Those tools include real-time text analytics, case and review management with real-time alerting capabilities and anomaly detection to alert users when a trend changes or something new spikes in the company’s feedback.

Related Article: 2 Years Later: How Customer Service Has Changed

Building a Roadmap to VoC Monitoring

Rick Blair, vice president of product strategy, experience management for Verint, recommended mapping out the customer journey and as many experience points as possible.

“Identify the high-value points, like a checkout page,” he said. “That will help ensure you have coverage in the places that matter. Without a guide showing all the places you need to monitor, you can not only have gaps — you risk spending your valuable time and resources on meaningless improvements.”

Blair added that another critical consideration is the monitoring methodologies. Many programs rely heavily on surveys or recording a sample of calls, but sampling by its nature excludes a large percentage of customers.

“You should include an always-on, opt-in component to guarantee 100% of the customer base has an option,” he said. “Opt-in methods also avoid interrupting the experience, a real concern with anything that’s ‘continuous.’"

AI, ML Technologies Can Help

By identifying where customers drop out of a specific journey, digital or physical, organizations can recognize where they’re losing revenue.

Additionally, repeat calls into a contact center and monitoring what customers complain about can help you identify friction in the journey that creates experiences not aligned to the brand.

“Monitoring social media signals can help you identify what customers are saying about your company or the industry overall, allowing companies to define and shape new strategies for growth,” Staikos said.

He added that technology platforms that capture the total experience across signals and leverage artificial intelligence and machine learning to deliver actionable insights have seen significant adoption in the last several years.

“These platforms continue to add features and functionality to capture more signals, to analyze them and to act on feedback by closing the loop with the customer,” Staikos said. “In addition, monitoring VoC and automating action on it, machine to machine, is also technology that is now starting to see more adoption.”

Deploy Speech, Text Analytics Tools

Blair said speech and text analytics solutions today can work in real-time to monitor specific words or phrases and notify teams to act.

“As continuous monitoring scales to large enterprises with large volumes of data, advanced AI tools help teams find needles in ever-growing data haystacks,” he explained.

Integrating third-party data sources (like a CRM system) is another best-practice tactic to help bring key customer data into the decision-making process.

Staikos said the end goals of continuous monitoring should be finding the right balance between customer outcomes like improved experience and business outcomes like increased revenue, reduced cost-to-serve and enhanced culture.

“These can be different for each company; however, both the customer and the company should benefit from consistently monitoring VoC,” he added.

From Smuda’s perspective, the biggest goals are identifying and resolving individual customer issues in real-time and determining changing trends or customer expectations.

“Overall, you want to drive a culture and commitment across the organization to continuous improvement,” he said. “This helps reinforce a culture of customer-centricity.”

Related Article: NLP and Text Analytics Enhance VoC Programs, Boost CX Engagement

Data Deluges, Invaluable Insights and Ultimate Ends

Gartner VP Analyst Ben Bloom pointed out that while customer insight is critical for today’s enterprises, more data isn’t necessarily more insight.

He explained that, in the company’s 2021 survey on customer data, 45 percent of organizations agreed that the more data they collect, the less benefit they see.

“A persistent myth around the value of big data or real-time data has led marketing and CX teams to invest billions in CRM over the past decades,” Bloom said. “However, just 14 percent of companies say they have achieved a 360-degree view of the customer.”

He added that the implied hypothesis of “continuous monitoring” suggests a wide array of data collection approaches, which will require data quality and integration and could test the limits of consumer privacy preferences, cross-device identifiers and regulatory oversight.

“We predict that by 2026, 80% of organizations pursuing a 360-degree view of the customer will abandon these efforts because they flout data privacy regulations, rely on obsolete data collection methods and erode customer trust,” Bloom said.

He added that if the organization doesn’t prioritize a concrete subset of actionable data rooted in providing value to customers, there’s a scant chance of delivering increased business value and a real chance of harming the business.

From Blair’s perspective, there is no “end” goal to VoC monitoring if companies really embrace continuous improvement and put all customers on a pedestal.

“Continuous monitoring drives continuous improvement,” he said, noting another goal should be to try and minimize the impact on the customer.

“Surveys used to include dozens of questions about who you are, demographics, et cetera,” he said. “Everyone hated it. Now you can pull all that data in from Salesforce behind the scenes and keep the interaction short and respectful. Everyone wins.”