Connected & Ready

Closing the customer feedback loop, with Liz Miller

Episode Summary

Companies often build a customer experience without critical input from the customers they serve. The concept of voice of the customer (VOC) bridges the gap. In this episode of Connected & Ready, host Gemma Milne talks with Liz Miller, VP and Principal Analyst at Constellation Research, about why companies should look at VOC beyond marketing, the importance of getting a complete picture of customer feedback, the difference between high-fidelity and low-fidelity signals, and the risks companies run if they ignore their customers. Dynamics 365 Customer Voice is an easy to use, scalable feedback management solution empowering organizations to collect, analyze, and track customer feedback. Easily personalize customer engagement with real-time surveys and analyze unified views of the customer so you can accelerate time to response and close the loops in the moments that matter. Learn more about Customer Voice and how to add it to your existing Dynamics 365 solutions: Thank you for listening to Connected & Ready! Do you have ideas of how we can improve the show? Want to recommend a guest for us to interview? We value your partnership and participation. Please drop us a note at We would love to hear from you.

Episode Notes

Gemma Milne talks with Liz Miller, from Constellation Research, about how vital capturing the voice of the customer is for businesses to build their customer experience, as well as its direct impact on achieving their revenue and growth goals. From how VOC is more than just metrics, to how a VOC program can work in a customer service or sales scenario, Miller shares insights to help you turn your VOC into action.

About Liz Miller:

Liz Miller is Vice President and Principal Analyst at Constellation Research, where she focuses on the business demands of today’s chief marketing officer, the evolution of customer engagement, and the growing need for new security postures that can address threats to brand trust. A 27-year marketing veteran, Miller closely follows the key trends modern CMOs face, ranging from the realities of engagement in the trust economy to how marketing has become enterprise security’s greatest threat and critical champion. She also provides guidance on the leadership, business transformation, and technology requirements for today’s marketing organizations and how to effectively transform business models to stay competitive in the shifting digital landscape. 

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Episode Transcription

Gemma [00:00:05] Hello and welcome. You’re listening to Connected and Ready, an ongoing conversation about innovation, resilience, and our capacity to succeed – brought to you by Microsoft. I’m Gemma Milne, I’m a technology journalist and author, and I’m going to be exploring trends around how companies are adapting to a disrupted world and preparing for tomorrow. We’re going to speak to the innovators who are bringing products, operations, and people together in new ways. In today’s episode, I’m chatting with Liz Miller, Vice President and principal analyst at Constellation Research, who sheds light on the customer feedback loop. And why closing the gap between what customers are seeing and how companies are responding to that data can lead to deeper customer loyalty and increased competitive advantage. We also talk about the importance of feedback management solutions to strategic decision making and share some concrete examples of how VOC, or Voice of Customer insights can be the catalyst for better customer experiences and more effective sales teams. Before we start, I want to thank all of you listeners out there. If you have a topic or a person you’d love to hear on the show, please send us an email at We’re so thankful for you all. Now on the episodes.

Liz, thank you so much for coming and joining us on the show. I’m excited to speak to you about all things voice of customer or VOC. Let’s start with an introduction. Tell us a little bit about your background and your current role at Constellation.

Liz [00:01:30] Oh, you bet, and thanks so much for having me. So, Liz Miller, Vice President and Principal Analyst here at Constellation Research. We are a boutique analyst firm, which really just means we’re little and we get to do disruptive stuff, which is awesome, because what I get to look at it, my coverage is all things customer experience. So I get to look across this big and beautiful world where marketing, sales, and service collide around and in service of the customer. So we really start to look at those technologies and those strategies that are pulling together all of our tools, all of our solutions, all of our platforms to make sure that that high fidelity signal that is coming from our customer then gets translated into all of the different campaigns, all of the different engagements and experiences that our customers are expecting. So it’s that big fun world. My background is as a functional marketer, so I have, in fact done the things that I get to talk about, which is also really great and have kind of had the fun experience of working in every shape and size of industry, from professional sports to luxury skincare to CRM implementations. So, have seen it all.

Gemma [00:02:40] Amazing. Well, we’re really lucky to have you here with us. And let’s go back a step for anyone who’s maybe not come across the acronym VOC. Tell us what is the voice of the customer and why is it critical for business success? What are the risks of ignoring VOC, for example?

Liz [00:02:54] Oh, yeah, that’s such a great place to start. So let’s start with – it’s almost easier for me to say what voice of customer is not, right? It’s not a toolset. It’s not just something that you maybe passively listen to. Maybe you got a signal from social and “Hooray! I’m done.” It’s also not a net promoter score. I can’t say that in bigger caps or in bold enough. It’s not just one thing. The voice of the customer is quite literally what the words actually mean. It is the voice of the customer digitized, turned into data and then brought into our companies and brought into our organizations. And that can come in through a lot of different sources. The voice of the customer absolutely can come in from those high fidelity signals where the customer is actually telling us what they want, what they need, how they feel through things like social. It can come in through things like that questionnaire that you deployed after an amazing customer experience, you know, or an amazing call in the call center that says, hey, did we actually solve all your problems? Right? It’s that little prompt that actually asks the customer what they think. The voice of the customer isn’t the prompt. The voice of the customer is when they come back and say “Everything was great…but” right? It’s everything, the good, the bad, all of that clear signal that can come in through all of these different touch points, that is the voice of the customer. The criticality of it is that when we sit around and talk about this new age of business, we like to call it like “The Age of Experience” or we’re now in the “Era of the Customer.” We come up with these really big, lofty titles. When you live in that economy where customer experience is actively driving growth and revenue, the greatest signal that you can miss is often the actual voice of the customer telling your organization what they want and need, what their actual expectations are. And if we’re going to capitalize on this fact that experience drives revenue and experience drives growth, we have to start to prioritize this voice because it is literally the guidepost that tells us where our business is advancing and where we’re retracting, where we might be missing the mark. So when you ask the question and when you said, like – what’s the risk if we ignore this voice or if we ignore the signal, very bluntly, the risk is we will fail. The risk is that our businesses will not meet the marks will not meet the revenue goals. We will not grow at the rate that will allow us to continue to be durable and profitable. And our relationships will fail if we ignore that voice.

Gemma [00:05:41] So let’s build on this a little bit, because you’ve mentioned quite rightly so, a lot of these big terms or big ideas around the age of experience, which we’ve talked a lot about in the show for obvious reasons. So, you know, in an ideal scenario, how would VOC then best intersect with some of these customer experience initiatives, particularly some of the more innovative and interesting ideas that’s been coming out more recently? What would you say are some of the common missteps or oversights that are made as companies try to apply these insights as they are also experimenting with these new ideas?

Liz [00:06:12] Yeah, yeah, that’s a great question. We tend to look at the individual channels through which we collect voice as individual silos of data, so we tend to bucket them into areas that we can pull into our systems, or that we can integrate into various campaigns or various strategies. And so when we look at that, in reality, we’re talking about windows into truth that we can open as opposed to really understanding the truth about the customer. And those are two very different scenarios in which to live, right? It’s very hard to say that you can see everything when all of your windows are shut, right? Or if you’ve only selectively opened certain windows, like, “I know everything about my customer, except I’m only looking in the rearview mirror. I’m only looking at past campaign data.” But if you really are operating a really robust customer experience strategy that is extending across that front line that delivers experience, so sales, service, marketing, field sales, field marketing, like everyone who was involved in that great team sport known as customer experience – if all of those touch points are centralizing all of the signal, the feedback, sometimes it can feel like noise that comes in from the customer into a single source of an organization’s truth, right? So let’s bring everything into one repository. You’ve got to also bring in those opportunities to bring in live voice that might be coming from surveys, that might be coming from forms, that might be coming from those individual chat prompts. Do you have that moment in your chat bot that says “Hey, you know, how are things going?” That conversational moment. You’ve also got to bring that stuff in, right? Everything that is touching the customer and can possibly bring in that voice can come into a central location. And then, parts of the organization that need it can then extract out what they need to optimize the part of experience that they are deploying, right? So when you start to say – OK, how are we going to capitalize on the experience economy and how do we bring all of this into a central pane? We’re talking about a single pane of glass for the organization, so they can bring together everything that they have in the moment that is truthful and honest and high fidelity about the customer. It’s not, however, a 360 degree view. Right? I’m sure everyone talks to you about that. Like you have to have a 360 degree view. I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about bringing that voice into one area. So the people who need to hear it, can, and then translate that into the kind of the drive and the signal that moves their campaigns forward.

Ad [09:10] Dynamics 365 Customer Voice is an easy to use, scalable feedback management solution empowering organizations to collect, analyze, and track customer feedback. Easily personalize customer engagement with real-time surveys and analyze unified views of the customer so you can accelerate time to response and close the loops in the moments that matter. Learn more about Customer Voice and how to add it to your existing Dynamics 365 solutions by following the link in the episode description. 

Gemma [00:09:36] So, I mean, you mentioned earlier, you know, this is not NPS. This is not 360 view. But what is it when we’re thinking about, for instance, metrics, or how does it differ from some of these data gathering efforts in terms of – because it’s a difficult one when we talk about data, and we’re talking about trying to get insights, of course, you want to make that into a number based activity to some degree. Particularly because, you know, you’re talking about bringing all this in and anyone the company can tap into, that sounds super complex. So tell us a little bit more about just how this approach that you’re talking about really differs from this score, or let’s just get a metric that we can put against things.

Liz [00:10:16] I love this conversation. I could, gosh, go on forever on this one. I won’t, I promise. But I will try to summarize this as best I can. So I think that what we’re talking about here is really getting to a point of, let’s call it, you know, mental sophistication, where you can differentiate between metrics that are driving your business that allow you to make really great decisions to move campaigns and actions forward, right? And so let’s call that – data from decisions, right? So you’ve made a decision, you’ve gone forward with your action, and now there’s this really great data there that can be behavioral. It can tell you what a customer did or didn’t like, it can tell you what did or did not work about your campaign. So it’s that data from decisions, right? It’s the output. It’s the exhaust, right? Then there’s data for decisions, right? It’s that data, it’s that repository and that intelligence that helps you make those better decisions and keep that decision velocity moving forward. So it’s kind of all of the data that led you up to the decision and then all the data that happened after the decision. The data that happens after that point of decision tends to be what we call metrics, right? How many people clicked it? How many people opened it? It’s the NPS score. Did you like it? Would you recommend us? So in that scenario, what’s interesting about customer voice is it customer voice often gets bucketed just there, right? Because we deployed something and now we’re going to get all the reaction to that thing, right? So all the voice comes in. Yes, I liked the call. Yes, I watched the show. Yes, I really enjoyed that. You also then get great things like advocacy. Oh, my gosh. I want to share this with everyone else. You get NPS. Yes, I would recommend you to someone else. The problem is, especially in the world of marketing, that’s where we’ve stayed. We’ve kind of stagnated in that area of only looking at those metrics that came from what we just deployed. And when we see that it was good, we’re like, “Yay, okay we’re going to do that again.” And we’d redeploy. If it was bad, “Oh, bad, terrible boo”, and we’d like throw the baby out with the bathwater and it’s all gone. We use our metrics to substantiate the business decisions that we did, or even worse, we used them to justify the invoice we just paid. The problem with that is it actually mutes a whole lot of high fidelity signal that our customer is actively giving us, because they’re giving us this great roadmap that we can move forward with, that they might say, yeah, I liked it, but you know what? I actually want more and in shorter segments, or – you know what? Oh, my God, that was a great campaign. I love that I’m going to buy it. I just can’t buy it now because I can’t figure out where your return policy is, right? So they’re giving us all this additional voice that can remove all this other friction from the point before deployment. They’re telling us about themselves. They’re telling us about ourselves. And if we don’t start to really focus in on that data, that has to happen for decisions to make that decision velocity go forward, we’re actually missing out on a whole lot of what actually drives growth for our organizations. There’s a lot of signal that we can miss if we decide that data equals metrics. What we start to see voice of customer really take off for organizations, is when data is a direct line to intelligence because it’s telling us how we make decisions faster, how we make business decisions better. But it also helps us rally the rest of the organization back around the customer because it confirms that, yes, the customer told us this, we understood it, we turn it into intelligence, we institutionalize that, made it accessible for everyone who needs to work with the customer, and now we’re all making better decisions in the service of the customer so that we can sell more. It’s not just so you can be nicer to your customer. Let’s be very honest here. We want to create more durable, profitable relationships. The way you do that is by listening to people. It’s kind of good old fashioned relationship building.

Gemma [00:14:40] So I think you’ve made a very clear case for why VOC is important, why it’s different from everything else that we’re hearing about. Let’s move on a little bit to thinking about implementation and some examples. Forrester has done some great research into the challenges that organizations have around customer data. And two stats that I want to bring to this stuck out: 96 percent of companies see customer experience as a one department issue, and 33 percent of companies struggle with using customer insights. So from your perspective, what’s behind this disconnect? What is it going to take to start reversing these trends, particularly for companies that are in the early stages of VOC planning?

Liz [00:15:22] Yeah, that first one hurts my heart a little bit, when they say that it’s a one department issue. It’s just, it’s painful. But the reality is, is a lot of lot of folks do, right? They say, oh, you know, voice the customer – it’s a marketing thing because marketing has social media and social media is all about sentiment. So it must be a marketing thing. Or they’ll say, oh, voice of customer, it’s a customer service thing. So customer service is talking to them all the time. So they have to be the ones to do it. The other side of that equation that I think that stat really brings forward is the game that I like to call corporate-don’t-touch-my-button. It’s like this really weird game that we’ve all decided to play where we gather up the toys that we think are ours, and then we build these impermeable walls around them. And we’re like, ahhh, it’s the customer,  don’t touch my button. And so we play these weird games, right? So it’s like, OK, I’m customer service. I literally have people who talk to the customer and listen to their literal voice all day long. Therefore, voice of customer, mine, don’t touch my button. So when we decide that these issues around voice of customer when it comes to any part of the customer relationship, is part of this game of don’t-touch-my-button. When we literally look at the customer like they’re one of the toys that is involved in this game, of don’t-touch-my-button, we end up in real disservice to, well, growth, quite frankly, because this is where we erect those things that I’m sure, Gemma, everyone has talked to you about. When we talk about silos, we talk about, like in order to do this, we have to break down the silos between the functions. The problem is we’re the ones holding up the biggest silos, right? Because we’re the ones saying things like, oh, no, I own the customer experience or oh, no, I own voice of customer. To successfully implement a customer experience strategy, it has to be A: a strategy. Right? So organizations have to understand customer experience is a strategy that is an enterprise wide team sport, so that when you start to implement tools and technologies that actually power all of those outbound engagements, the power of the data systems, that power everything from your customer data platform to all of your points of outbound engagement, whether it’s in service, sales, marketing, wherever – if it comes to those voice of customer tools, they have to not only ingest from everywhere, they also have to power to everywhere across the organization so that your enterprise, no matter where someone sits, can have the benefit of the crystal clear voice of customer, regardless of where it’s come in, right? So here’s the example I’ll use: imagine if you are a retailer in the northwest portion of, sorry, the northeast portion of the United States of America in, you know, a couple weekends ago or however long it’s been, when all of a sudden you hear news that a hurricane is barreling down for the first time in 30 years, a hurricane is about to hit the northeast portion of the United States. If your social team has been picking up on this, you know, sentiment and voice of, oh, my gosh, we’re so worried, we’re so panicked, oh my gosh, everything is going on, we’re worried that our generators aren’t going to keep up. And you’re a generator manufacturer, right? And so your customer service team is like, OK, we’re ready. We are ready to get this. We know exactly what’s going to happen. And all of a sudden you deploy a voice of customer, quick pulse, like a little survey that says, hey, how’s everyone doing? What’s going on this weekend? What’s everyone thinking about? And the number one thing that comes back is I can’t find the on button of my generator. Like, I don’t know how to operate this thing. What if you’re pretending that that inbound answer of “I don’t know where my power button is”, only belongs to the team that owns the voice of customer platform. You don’t share that with service. You don’t share that with social. You don’t even share that with your web team, right? You’re just sitting on that and you’re like, I know something you don’t know because I own this. Hurricane hits, phone lines get flooded, everyone’s calling in. Where’s the power button? Where’s the power button? Where’s the power button? Right? It’s panic. But what if? What if you realized it was a team sport and that team sport was there to solely allow the customer to win? You would have messages on your social media saying, hey, everyone, about to experience this: here’s where your power button is, right? You would have videos of people clicking the power button. You would have service with a note in their service modules that said, hey, everyone, you might get a whole lot of calls and you’re going to get a lot of chats about where the power button is. Here’s a great little script on how to describe it, right? You’re going to have things that proactively answer the question, but you’re going to give your frontline teams, the people on social service, the people who are manning the phones, you’re going to give them a really fast script so they can help people faster because all that voice is going to be telling you is help me how to help me and how are you going to win my loyalty, because you helped me faster and you delivered this kind of value. That’s what happens when you see it as a team sport. But that’s what happens when you allow voice of customer to be the greatest tool that everyone gets to play with in delivering that team sport.

Gemma [00:20:45] So then let’s build on this. What does that look like in reality? Because that all sounds amazing, right? Being able to have this central game that everyone’s playing, everyone having access to the button. So what is a VOC program or feedback management solution and what impact can it have on success?

Liz [00:21:03] When we start to look at these feedback solutions, especially when you’re looking to gather and then disseminate voice of customer, you can’t just look for a solution that is, say, a form or a survey. That’s not what we’re talking about here. Forms and surveys are awesome. Don’t get me wrong, I love them. I use them. But when you start to then up level that, you take the next step into something that’s a voice of customer platform or solution. You are looking for ways that you can set up quick and easy points of feedback, listening posts, if you will, where your customer is able to either via prompt or just proactively they run across something. “Yeah, I’d like to tell you about that.” Right? You’ve got customers who want to tell you about things and then you have customers that you need to kind of extract things from. Any type of feedback or voice of customer solution will give you both of those options where you have opportunities to just have passive feedback that comes in. Someone can tell you something, something’s great, excellent. Or you’re actively gathering that. But there also has to be that next step. OK, I’ve gathered all of this – now what do I have to go do? So your true voice of customer platform, a solution will then have an opportunity to alert people who might need to take care of an issue, will send this data or be able to aggregate and share that data with other data systems. So maybe all of that data is going into a CDP. Maybe that data is integrating into workflows into your marketing automation solution. Maybe it is working into workflows across your customer service solution. The point being: regardless of where the end point of where the voice is going to land, you know whether it’s, think of it in audio terms, right, is, the sound coming out of your computer or is the sound coming out of your headphones. It doesn’t matter where you have to have that central point that it’s actually delivering the audio. Same thing with customer voice. So a great customer’s voice solution is going to be able to, via API, deliver that data and enable those alerts. Enable that “OK, now what?” Those workflows, all of the opportunity to keep this going. So it’s not just a point of collection. When I hear people talk about voice of customer solutions, I know that they’re not truly talking about a voice of customer solution when they’re just talking about like a survey in a bucket. I took a survey. I put the data in a bucket, and now I’ve got to figure out how to get that bucket to go someplace else that’s useful. That’s not a voice of customer solution. That’s literally a survey. And it’s great that you did it. But now we’ve got to step up into that next game of, OK, now what? True voice of customer platforms are going to have the capacity to help you with that “Now what?” They’re going to have workflows. They’re going to have alerts. They’re going to have something that happens after we hear that voice come into the organization.

Gemma [00:23:57] One question I have around thinking about how companies can really make the most of these insights and implement the feedback they’ve gathered, I mean, imagine it’s a smaller company or a smaller team. And they’ve been really great at gathering the data, gathering the voice of the customer, and all the data saying: do this. But they don’t have the finances or the operational support or whatever to actually do it. How would you suggest they proceed?

Liz [00:24:22] Yeah. So, gosh, and I think that happens a lot. And I will say it happens in big companies and it absolutely happens in small companies. I think it’s something that happens no matter where you are. And the beauty of both a customer feedback, customer voice strategy and program and an organization that really fully lives by a customer experience strategy that everyone buys into, is that fundamentally we’re talking about like an infinite loop, right? Where you start by listening, right? You’ve deployed this listening post. You’ve deployed this opportunity for feedback. So the first thing you have to do is listen to it. So that’s the stop number one. Then once you hear all of that, you really have to start interpreting what the customer is truly asking for. So you see all the data and they’re saying, god, I’d really like a button here, right? I’d really like this thing, this new widget to sit over here. You could either look at that and say, yep, they need a budget and go, you know, they need a button. Oh, my God. Now we’ve got to go get budget. We got to go figure out how to do this. And heaven forbid you’re talking about like a physical button because then you’re like, oh, my God, I’ve got to stop manufacturing and oh, it’s like everyone freaks out. But when you interpret, you can also hear signal from other places, it’s not just about that one point of feedback, it’s about all of the voice of customer that you’re collecting, right? So what if in context of “I need that button”, you also start to realize that what people are really complaining about is – it’s just really hard to get to the next phase, right? Like It’s really hard to get to the next step. It’s really hard to you know, I really can’t figure out where I need to go. So the answer to the “it’s really hard” is actually “it would be really great if you had a button”. It might actually be easier to streamline the process, remove a couple steps, relook at your workflows to actually see that maybe that button isn’t what they’re talking about. Maybe it’s the number of steps that you’re making people go through to get to that end destination, right? So it’s about interpreting and it’s about acting quickly. And I think that’s the thing that a lot of people forget. You got to interpret, you’ve got to listen, interpret, act quickly. And you’re either going to fail forward, right? Or you’re going to succeed forward, whichever one you want to do. And then you’ve got a monitor, right? So you’ve acted, you removed a step from your process. OK, are people still complaining about the button? Right? And if you’ve taken that piece of the process out, if you’ve made it easier for someone to buy, OK, wow, you know, suddenly people aren’t complaining about that button anymore. That’s pretty great. So it’s not necessarily about stop everything, change everything, throw a lot of money at it. It’s really about interpreting and acting quickly, and then monitoring so you could improve the situation.

Gemma [00:27:11] And what does it look like in terms of helping companies align teams for decision making and creating this data driven empathy? Because you made a really, really great case that it is about not being in silos and working together. So, again, in practice, how can a VOC program really help with this aligning?

Liz [00:27:30] Yeah, it’s really interesting because I think for organizations where I’ve seen voice of customer programs work really well, they’ve started small to solve small problems, right? They’ve started with something they wanted to either learn or find out. And it was something that they knew was kind of holding maybe multiple parts of the organization back, right? And as you start to learn and you start to improve and you start to solve the problems, you get the alert that tells service, hey, there’s a problem, you get the alert that says, hey, you know, I’ve got to raise a ticket in IT because there’s something wrong with our website, right? You start to resolve the friction that could be slowing down a relationship or a positive, profitable relationship, right? When you start to solve those problems and you start to make your internal customer, your employees’ lives easier, let me tell you, people really want more of it. They are really happy to help you break down those walls and really happy to start aligning systems when their jobs get better, when their jobs get easier, when they’re able to address more with the customer. And so I think that where I’ve seen these programs work the best is when first and foremost customer experience is that strategy. And these tools are purposefully driven almost from the middle, right? This isn’t a situation where the CEO is going to be like we need a massive voice of the customer program and you will all abide by it. Like, that’s not, this is not a command and control scenario, right? This is really where this is a tool that becomes so powerful for the middle, so powerful for the feet on the street, actually going and executing these amazing customer experience engagements that they want more, they want their tools to contribute more, they want to implement more moments where they can collect the voice of customer. So I think that when you start to get everyone involved in it, everyone wants to feedback and it just really becomes this kind of growing, you know, growing opportunity for people to really be involved.

Gemma [00:29:38] Let’s talk some examples, because I think to really bring this to life, I think it’d be great to hear a little bit about, again, what this looks like in practice. So how does a VOC show up in a customer service scenario or as a customer service tool?

Liz [00:29:50] Oh, gosh, I love that. I love this example because this is one where I think we see it happen. And it helps not only the customer, but it also helps the customer service agent, but it also helps management. So when in these moments the customer’s voice comes into and can be fed into the service setting, you now have agents who are really able to pinpoint exactly what the problem is for that customer. They know exactly where that customer is sitting. They know exactly what they’re feeling. But once that call is over, and once the customer then provides feedback into their experience, not only with the product and the brand, but the agent, when you start to look at that voice feedback, over time, customer service managers can start to look at that customer voice data and really understand what allows their teams to be more efficient, right? Hey, if you started by answering this question, it actually gets to resolution faster. Hey, look at this account or start to look at this window. It actually helps with everything from coaching to just raw efficiency and being able to identify the tools that you might not have given the customer service agent based on how over time that agent is addressing calls. Let’s see where their feedback is. Where it’s not useful, and I think this is really important to look at, customer voice programs are not meant to tattle on employees, right? And that’s where we kind of lose momentum on them, right? Especially in the service center. You know, with customer service, those feedback loops aren’t meant to say, hey, that agent’s awesome and they’re always awesome, right? Because here’s the truth about a lot of times when you ask a customer: how did that call just go and how is the agent? The really supremely happy will take that little moment of survey or give that moment of feedback, or the really supremely pissed will give that moment of survey or feedback. So all of a sudden you have like agents who are awesome or agents who are really horrible when, you know, in reality the majority of your agents are somewhere in the middle. So the opportunity here isn’t to say like, oh, who’s doing great or who’s doing awesome, it’s to find out why the great agents are doing great and why the laggard agents are struggling. And how do we look at that voice and that feedback and what the customer is saying over time so we can actually improve efficiency of the entire team and really bring that forward based on what customer says, as opposed to what we as managers think should be happening. So in that scenario, we’re really looking at accelerating action, accelerating that opportunity to actually solve issues, resolve problems, but also enhancing agent effectiveness, I think is probably one of the most powerful things voice can do.

Gemma [00:32:48] Amazing. Thank you for that example. Let’s do, let’s do another example to look at it from a different perspective, thinking of sales scenario or as a sales tool, how does VOC show up?

Liz [00:32:58] Oh, well, so I think it’s like VOC is like, I think I’m going to age myself here by calling them this because I think they’ve actually rebranded – but remember Cliff’s Notes? Remember those like cheap books like you don’t read the whole book…

Gemma [00:33:09] Yeah!

Liz [00:33:10] OK.

Gemma [00:33:10] I think they’re still a thing! I don’t think you’re showing your age.

Liz [00:33:13] Are they still a thing? Okay good – They’re still a thing, awesome, because voice of customer is like the Cliff’s  Notes of the customer, right? It tells you that like, yes Ulysses did actually do that instead of having to read the whole book. So I think for the seller and I think for sales, there’s two ways you can look at this. For the seller, this is really where you can start to change the sales dynamic for the seller in that they’ve literally got a Cliff’s Notes of exactly what the customer has said, what customers like your customer have said. You know, you are literally getting voice not just from the person you’re talking to or the account you’re talking to, but you’ve got all of this rich signal and feedback from customers just like them, right? So imagine that you are in B2B sales. You are selling to a massive, massive enterprise, but your customer contact is one individual, right? It is really easy in that scenario to focus on what that individual is telling you in the moment, that they are telling you that information. We need this. We need it by then. We only have this budget, right? You have a very narrow window into seeing what that person is telling you. But what if through voice of customer, as part of your aggregated data system, you could also find out, you know, this account calls in an awful lot and they provide an awful lot of negative feedback into the existing toolset that they have. But they also have this really weird opportunity because, wow, a lot of them are telling us, well we’re thinking about shifting our business, we’re thinking about doing this, we’re thinking about actually moving our business into a more digital scenario. What if the seller had all of that voice of customer intelligence and insight and so they could go back to their account rep and say, actually, I hear what you need, but what if we started thinking about this in a little bit different way? What if we started looking at this as your toolset that you needed or this is the, you know, the new opportunity you were looking at? It allows the seller to proactively have a new conversation with the individual that they are talking to, really enhanced with all of the data that’s coming in through the voice of the customer about what’s really happening in an account. There’s what’s happening in the account by the numbers, then there’s what’s happening in the account by the voice, right? It’s a much bigger picture. So for the seller, it really shifts the dynamic. It gives them such powerful tools and such powerful intelligence that they can really change the conversation. Customer voice in sales, also very similarly to service, provides that direct feedback from a customer’s experience with that salesperson, with the sales organization, with the brand and organization writ large. It allows management to actually coach sellers over time because it can identify those moments of either anomaly or friction of where you can improve. And again, I can’t stress this enough: it is not intended to be a negative, a tattletale, but customer voice really can give sales organizations such clear signal about where efficiencies and improvements can happen so that we’re not making guesswork. What customer voice can do is actually give you the opportunity to say, hey, you know what, you’re leading with this. Next time, try leading with another thing, right? Like it gives you this coaching opportunity so that you can manage up, right? That’s, you know, that is where customer voice can uplift this process. So it really helps you not only coach the seller, but it gives the seller an opportunity to really personalize the engagement.

Gemma [00:37:05] I want to ask one more question before we close out Liz, because we’ve covered so much here and you’re so passionate about this, we could talk about it forever. But I would be remiss to ask you before we leave what your thoughts were and perhaps some of the current market trends for feedback management solutions and VOC. What are you seeing out there?

Liz [00:37:20] Yeah, so I’m seeing a lot and I think a lot of it is being driven by new tools and solutions that are kind of the underpinning of where VOC will, where a lot of the intelligence will land. I think what’s happening is because customer experience is kind of raising the bar of what data can be pulled into systems. So for organizations who are implementing customer data platforms or CDPs, where you can bring in a whole lot of unstructured data into your intelligence stores about your customer, we’re now starting to see organizations be like, oh, wait a minute, now that I can do this, what are some other areas where I can go and, you know, start to aggregate this really valuable insight and this really valuable, unstructured data that I want to bring into my organizations. So I think that’s certainly one trend we’re seeing driving VOC platforms and feedback platforms to really address that issue. The challenge I see there is that, again, if we go back to this idea that VOC solutions are not just rebranded survey tools, right? So let’s move those away. If you’re just bringing in a rebranded survey tool, there’s not a whole lot of joy that you’re going to get from that. You’re likely going to be frustrated by the end point of that, you know, very quickly. But where I’m seeing true VOC platforms really come to life are when they’re pulled into those data systems, when they’re pulled into those systems of records, and they can really fully integrate with the outbound systems, with the sale systems, service systems, marketing systems, that then create those new workflows, create those new alerts. So we’re starting to see that, and I think that’s really being driven by data. I’ll say the other thing that’s driving it forward are enhancements in, you know, kind of what we what we at Constellation call future of work. When we start to talk about those new tools and solutions that are giving internal resources, managers, directors, HR, new ways that they can find to improve and enhance and uplift and empower their people, voice of customer is becoming a really, really powerful tool in being able to do that. So I think as we start to see this evolution of future of work, we start to see this evolution of the customer experience as a team sport. I think that’s what we’re seeing and that’s certainly what I’m seeing propel a lot of these voice of customer programs to really kind of you know, it’s like the cream that goes above the rest of the milk, right? Real VOC platforms start to come up to the top and we really start to see a lot of value from those. And we’ll really start to see kind of those other solutions start to kind of go back to where they are really useful in more of those longer format, like, hey, let’s get a survey out, let’s get some research, that kind of stuff. So I think those are some of the big trends I’m seeing certainly in feedback management and absolutely in voice of customer.

Gemma [00:40:09] Incredible. Liz, I think you probably get the price for the most enthusiastic guest we’ve had on the show, not to mention, of course, one of our most knowledgeable and of course, passionate about what it is that you’re doing. So really, thank you so much for coming, joining us on the podcast and sharing both some of these high level insights and real arguments for why people listening should care about VOC, but also some of these nice concrete examples and ways of actually going and trying to implement these programs and businesses, I think people listening will hopefully have taken lots from this, if nothing else, a big smile from hearing your enthusiasm throughout the show.

Liz [00:40:44] Oh, thank you. It’s been great. I thank you so much for having me.

Gemma [00:40:51] That’s it for this week. Thank you so much for tuning in. You can find out more about Liz’s work and indeed some of the broader themes we discussed today in the show notes. If you enjoyed the episode, please do take a few moments to write and review the podcast. It really helps other people discover the show. And don’t forget to hit subscribe and tune in next time to continue our conversation about innovation, resilience, and our capacity to succeed.

Ad [41:20] Learn how Dynamics 365 Customer Voice can empower your sales, marketing, and service teams to easily scale feedback capture and personalize customer experiences. Learn more about adding Customer Voice to your existing Dynamics 365 solutions by following the link in the episode description.