We just announced the winners of Forrester’s 2012 Voice Of The Customer Awards (VoC) at our Customer Experience Forum this afternoon. We received roughly 40 nominations, and yet again, we were incredibly impressed with the breadth and depth of the submissions. We broadened our scope, too: For the first time, we accepted nominations from around the world.

To evaluate the submissions, each of our three judges graded each nomination based on five criteria: clarity of approach, impact on customers’ experiences, impact on business performance, degree of innovation, and lessons provided for other firms. The nominees with the 10 best scores were named finalists. The top three scorers were named winners.

And here are the results . . .

The 10 finalists (in alphabetical order) are:

  • American Cancer Society
  • American Family Insurance
  • Barclaycard US
  • Cisco Systems
  • ExactTarget
  • InterContinental Hotels Group
  • JetBlue Airways
  • OpenText
  • UnitedHealthcare Medicare and Retirement
  • The Vanguard Group

The three winners (also in alphabetical order) are:

  • Barclaycard US. The credit card provider stood out for its VoC-fueled cultural transformation. Employees begin each day by listening to a randomly selected real customer call, a practice that has led to cross-functional dialogue and swift changes to policies. A newly-created Customer Experience Hopper consisting of 75 “customer evangelists” from across functional areas has already implemented 25 key initiatives, with plans for 60 more this year. This approach has even spurred a change to the way the company creates products, including a new model in which it combined social media, financial education, and online banking to craft a crowd-sourced credit card. These collective initiatives have paid off: Customer complaints are down 50%, and customer attrition has improved by 28%, adding up to more than $10 million in annual benefit.
  • Cisco. The network technology company stood out for its laser focus on making it easy to do business with Cisco. The program analyzes insights from surveys, social media, and a core employee listening post to identify opportunities to simplify processes and remove customer, partner, and employee pain points. For example, the online customer support website needed some help, so the company streamlined processes and improved navigation to enable customers to solve their problems quickly. The result is that 81% of issues are now resolved online, which avoids 356,000 cases per month.
  • Vanguard. The investment firm stood out for its ability to integrate and centralize data. Using both passive and active listening techniques, including in-depth interviews, focus groups, analytics, and client feedback surveys across channels, the company integrates all of the data sources to understand clients fully. All of this data lives with a centralized Client Insight group, members of which act as “client advocates” by delivering tailored, actionable insights and research to the rest of the business. The resulting improvement projects range from crew coaching to streamlining processes to service recovery efforts. Collectively, these improvements have resulted in $5.1 billion in additional assets, $1 million in savings, and a 33% increase in referrals of $100,000-plus leads.

Thank you to my fellow judges: Harley Manning and our guest judge Ginger Conlon, formerly of 1to1 Media. Thank you to all of the organizations that participated in the process. And congratulations to the finalists and winners!

For more information about Forrester’s annual Voice Of The Customer Awards, please visit: www.forrester.com/VoC_main.