Large companies with 'voice of the customer' (VoC) programmes have dedicated an average of three to five full time employees to them, according to a study by Temkin Group. This article is copyright 2012 The Best Customer Guide.

The research report, entitled 'Prepare For Next Generation VoC Programs', showed that when fully implemented, these programmes provide highly tailored customer insights to employees across an organisation.

Temkin Group identified six critical competencies for VoC programmes: Detect, Disseminate, Diagnose, Discuss, Design, and Deploy. It turns out that less than one-quarter of companies with VoC programmes have developed strong skills in each of these areas.

The research uses Temkin Group's VoC maturity model to identify where companies are along a spectrum of five levels of maturity. Only 5% of VoC programmes have reached the highest level of maturity, a stage called "Transformers" while 46% of these programmes are in the two earliest stages of maturity: "Novices" and "Collectors".

"Companies have been surveying their customers for years, but leading-edge voice of the customer programmes go well beyond those efforts, taking those practices to an entirely new level," explained Bruce Temkin, author of the research and managing partner for Temkin Group.

The report shows that VoC programmes are going through major changes. Rather than focusing on collecting feedback, these programmes are becoming more action-oriented. When companies were asked about the sources of customer insight that would be more important in the future, social media, customer interaction history, and feedback from front-line employees were at the top of the list. Multiple choice surveys ended up at the bottom of the list.

Companies were asked about their planned activities. It turns out that large companies expect a sharp rise in the use of text mining, predictive analytics, speech analytics, and collecting feedback via mobile phones.

The research also compared VoC programmes between companies that have strong business performance and lower performing companies. It turns out that high performing companies employ more full-time VoC employees, act more on the customer insights they find, and use more analytics.

As companies take on new VoC capabilities, the research asserts that they will increasingly need to invest in Customer Insight and Action (CIA) platforms. These evolving applications automate multi-channel customer feedback, analysis, and response and the related workflow associated with closed-loop voice of the customer programmes.

The report can be found on the Customer Experience Matters blog - click here.