Tapping Market Intelligence: Don’t Ignore Word of Mouth!

Listen to the Voice of CustomerIf you are like me, you probably receive requests to share your opinion about websites, products or services on a daily basis. That is not surprising if you consider number of technology and service providers that claim to make VOC solicitation and collection cheap and easy for companies.

I often wondered why do they go to the effort and expense of soliciting our feedback while at the same time ignoring Word of Mouth that is shared online by their customers without any solicitation.

The other day I received an email survey request from the manufacturer of a vacuum cleaner we have purchased a few weeks prior. Very polite message from the Customer Experience Director intimated that their VOC program needs my feedback. I liked the product a lot and left a very favorable review on the retailer’s website describing my experience. In fact, a few people marked my review as “helpful”. So why this polite gentleman wants me to answer 32 questions about my satisfaction with their product?

Have I not already published my feedback under my name? I posed this question to the Customer Experience Director and suggested that the Marketers ignore Voice of Customerssurvey questions were convoluted, too wordy and focused on details of no importance to this customer. The response indicated that the company does not include Social Media feedback in their Customer Experience and Satisfaction measurement efforts because it is a domain of their Digital Marketing group and their Customer Service department’s Social Media listening team.

Fragmentation of corporate view of a customer and it’s negative impact on Customer Experience are well documented by experts and sadly experienced by many consumers.

Many companies are striving to engage with Social Customer. However, they insist on controlling method, level and form of engagement. It is not very smart and it will not work because Social Customer has alternative options. Corporate believe that social media research does not produce as valuable market intelligence as VOC is analogous to the conviction that bottled water is “better/cleaner/safer” than the tap water.

Social Media research of WOM has to be included into VOC programs because:

  1. WOM often produces much larger data samples. Low customer survey response rates are always a subject of concern that results are not statistically representative.
  2. Social Media research of WOM does not carry a risk of creating a negative touch point of customer experience by poor execution of VOC effort. Considerable skills and efforts are required to craft the survey questions and to administer the program without introducing friction into customer communication with a brand. WOM analysis helps to ask questions that are more relevant to customers.
  3. The results of Customer Experience Management sponsored VOC measurements are not visible to the consumers and if there are, are not believed by the consumers who see it as a form of advertisement. VOC produce metrics, consumers communicate telling stories.voice of customer feedback analysis
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