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Beyond Business Acronysm – Importance of real interaction

2017.03.17

Voice of Customers


What do you think when you read these three words?  Claims?  Call centre?  Do you take this literally or do you think about “VOC” in conjunction with QFD (Quality Function Deployment)?

If latter, you must be an experienced marketing specialist.  But what is the essence of this exercise?  Here is one episode from Japan.  It may not be suitable for all but certainly thought to keep in the back of the mind.

Customer Just Wanted to Tell You


The essential textbook point of VOC is not only to record what the problem is, but to find out why the problem is.  It takes great personal skills to extract this from individual customer, often over the phone, emails, or within the group environment, but it can be done with care, attention, and long enough time spent for the conversation.

This phone call was from ninety-year-old regular customer of a cereal product.  Daughter recommended it to her for the ease of use and high nutritional value.  She uses the product every day, after trying a few other brands and settling with this one.

One day, she realized that the content was not as usual.  The cereals were clustered and there was less dried fruit.  It was not a big deal for her either but this customer decided to pick up the phone and tell the manufacturer of the difference, just in case.

The call centre operator started conversation by finding out more detail of the problem, and after briefly explaining the process in the factory and that it was not a quality recall matter, the collection of the remaining pack was arranged anyway investigation.  Of course, the process and how long it may take was duly and politely explained.  Once the result was in, the customer would receive the report and new pack.

Four hours later, the collection was cancelled because the daughter told off the mother not to bother the manufacturer for such a small thing.  This chain of communication was logged and shared in-company VOC daily report.

This company’s VOC operator produces daily reports and it is not just a spreadsheet data but anecdotal, includes the reporter’s learnings, and critically, it is interactive.  Other customer service officers, or any other employee can give comments, advise, share more stories, and suggest further actions.  It used to be weekly but since changed to daily, the internal reaction has become much more vibrant and fruitful.

Happy Customer, Shared Experience – Ripple Effect


This story ends up with the area manager visiting the customer not only to thank her for the continuous purchase, but also to ask for the recipe tips for the product.  The “eldest customer ever” repeatedly asked the visitors to thank the customer service operator who dealt with her call first.  This visit report was again shared throughout the company.  It gave motivation to the employees to learn from the experience, to better themselves in whatever roles they were in.    

The system can vary to suit the organization, but once it becomes 3 letter acronyms, there is always a danger of losing the most important element.  In VOC’s case, you can never forget that it is Voice of Customers.  Tables, templates, tick-box forms are all useful tools, when the changes are expertly analysed and efficiently implemented, with firmly focused on the original objective of gathering the true voice of customers for improvement.

The current market is not only about selling product but customer experience and after care is a huge part of the manufacturing.  The organizational process is important, yet it is the real voice of the customers that echoes throughout the supply chain with tangible effect that adds value.  Feeding the positive (or even negative) customer interactions of the operators gives motivations to improve for others.  It will not come as one big change, but as ripples and it permeates.  It is the feeling that needs capturing, the feeling that shakes everyone up a little bit, every day. 

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