For more than a decade companies have relied on surveys to be the primary, and in many cases the only, method of listening to customers.
This solicited form of data hatched an entire industry with companies like Qualtrics and Medallia dominating the market. There have always been inherent flaws in the survey process: low takes rates, sparse verbatim comments, and polarity bias are just a few. However, having quantifiable customer feedback in the form of NPS, CSAT, or other surveys was the only semi-reliable source of data for VoC programs.
Surveys serve a purpose, and they won’t likely be discarded anytime soon. That said, companies are waking up to the fact that they are sitting on a mountain of unsolicited feedback in the form of phone calls, chat sessions, emails, app comments, SMS, social media, and other channels. The combination of solicited and unsolicited data can be a game-changer for companies that are paying attention.
Those conversations that happen across all the unsolicited channels occur organically in the normal course of a relationship between a customer and a company: nobody has to ask a customer to pick up the phone or jump online to communicate with a company. There’s a reason for these interactions – customers have problems!
So while many companies are still trying to understand how customers feel (at least that diminishing number of customers who respond to surveys), there is actionable data that can help identify the origin of customer issues. Pinpointing and fixing the source of customer issues is how a company can affect how a customer feels. Measuring is one thing, managing is totally different.
There have been three primary challenges for VoC teams trying to get their collective arms around this immense set of unsolicited data:
The first is access. Nearly every company has an array of communication platforms that sit in different business units (silos). Turf wars, data hoarding, and politics can all come into play when a VoC team attempts to gain access to these precious resources.
The second challenge is disparate formats. Each of those communication platforms has its own database. Normalizing up to a dozen data formats is a daunting task for even the most advanced data teams. The third challenge is classification. Organic feedback generally comes in the form of unstructured, conversational data. Inconsistent classification across those communication channels leads to apples and oranges in contextual topic generation.
Enter the “agnostic aggregator.” New technology like Topbox gives companies the ability to leverage all that unsolicited data into actionable insights that actually improve the customer experience. A pure-play aggregation and analysis platform like Topbox sits on top of a company’s entire customer communication ecosystem, ingesting every conversation, normalizing the data, and classifying consistently with topics that are relevant to that business.
This delivers consistent, omnichannel sentiment analysis, friction point identification, anomaly detection, and trend analysis – all in an omnichannel environment. Agnostic aggregation of unsolicited, conversational feedback is a true enabler, unleashing the full potential of VoC teams.
Companies will continue to use solicited data from surveys, but businesses that want to move the needle must start looking to new technology to tap into the insight-rich conversations their customers are having every day.