Last year was an exciting one for the voice of the customer (VoC) world. We saw significant advancements in a number of key areas, including process, culture, and technology. Ultimately, these moves led to better experiences for customers and better financials for companies.

To continue this momentum in the year ahead, VoC practitioners and their vendor partners need to pursue three things:

  • Deeper insight into the customer journey. Many VoC programs already do a good job of monitoring customers’ experiences at specific moments of truth and making operational changes accordingly. That’s valuable, but it doesn’t address the actual customer experience (CX), which exists across touchpoints over time. In 2012, firms need to start examining and optimizing entire customer journeys, not just individual interactions. This will help uncover interdependencies between touchpoints and enable firms to create smoother handoffs. It will also be hard to do, especially for companies that can’t currently tell which customers have provided feedback.
  • Deeper penetration into the CX ecosystem. Every employee in a company impacts the CX, whether directly or indirectly. Partners and vendors also play important roles. However, today’s VoC programs focus mainly on driving change among frontline employees and generating small numbers of systemic improvement projects. In 2012, VoC leaders need to increase their day-to-day influence among employees at multiple tiers, including in the back office as well as among third parties. How? By empowering these players with the insight they need to understand and actively manage their CX performance. This will require better insight into each player’s goals and processes.
  • Deeper integration of other business data. Customer feedback can provide enormous insight, but it can only tell part of the overall CX business story. In 2012, VoC leaders need to better integrate operational and transactional data into their feedback programs. This will help them pinpoint specific things to fix (e.g., broken TVs on airplanes), identify the operational thresholds associated with good CX (e.g., airport security wait times), and measure the business results of CX improvements (e.g., fewer calls to care). To achieve these benefits, CX practitioners will need to build tighter relationships with their colleagues in areas like customer and business intelligence, CRM, and IT.

These are imperatives, not predictions, but here’s to making them a reality in 2012. As always, I welcome your comments.