Barclaycard US, Cisco, and The Vanguard Group are the winners of the 2012 Forrester Research (Nasdaq: FORR) Voice Of The Customer Awards, announced today at Forrester’s Customer Experience Forum 2012 East. The Voice Of The Customer Awards recognize organizations that excel in collecting, analyzing, and acting on feedback from their customers. More than 1,400 people attended the New York event, which provided Customer Experience Professionals with best practices, case studies, and tools for delivering a great customer experience. 

“This year we opened the competition to global nominations and were impressed with the scope, scale, and quality of the voice of the customer programs we reviewed from around the world,” said Forrester Research Analyst Adele Sage. “VoC programs continue to incorporate more customer data, influence more internal stakeholders, and deliver more value to their customers and their bottom lines.” 

Forty companies, representing leading brands in financial services, healthcare, retail, technology, and travel, submitted entries to this year’s Voice Of The Customer Awards. Winners were judged across five categories: clarity of approach, business value to the organization, positive impact on customer experience, innovation, and potential for other companies to repeat the practice. “The best VoC programs this year connected the dots between their VoC activities and a better customer experience and associated business results,” said Sage. 

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 and plans 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 crowdsourced 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.

“It’s all about making the basics great. Customers seek a simple and transparent experience with us all the time. And when we don’t deliver, they expect us to resolve and remediate the issue quickly,” said Susan Schmidt, chief operating officer for Barclaycard US. “Our fantastic showing in the Forrester Voice Of The Customer Awards tells us we’re able to surprise and delight customers. We see this as an ongoing journey, and we’ll continue to challenge ourselves to deliver for the customer.” 

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 issues quickly. The result is that 81% of issues are now resolved online, which avoids 356,000 cases a month. 

“At Cisco, it’s about listening to our customers, partners and employees and translating that insight into action,” said Karen Mangia, director, Listening Services Center of Excellence for Cisco. “Cisco’s executive teams take this valuable feedback and use it to inform new strategies, processes, and drive policy improvements.” 

The Vanguard Group. 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 the data sources to understand clients fully. All this data lives with a centralized Client Insight group, who 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 leads valued at $100,000 or more. 

“As a client-owned company, Vanguard’s customers are also our owners,” said Shannon Nutter-Wiersbitzky, director of Market Research & Voice of the Client at Vanguard. “So we feel a special obligation to listen and to gain insights into how to improve their investing experience.”

Forrester’s Customer Experience Forum 2012 East 

More than 1,400 people attended Forrester’s Customer Experience Forum 2012 East in New York. Sessions explored new research, best practices, and case studies from Forrester’s upcoming book, Outside In: The Power of Putting Customers at the Center of Your Business (Amazon Publishing/New Harvest). According to book authors Harley Manning and Kerry Bodine, customer experience is now the only sustainable source of competitive advantage for companies. More than any other factor, the experience a customer has with a brand determines whether that business will thrive or struggle. Customer Experience Professionals can use the 80-plus case studies and examples, tools, and analysis in Outside In to build a road map for attaining the customer experience advantage. For more information about Outside In, visit

Industry leaders who spoke at the event included: 

  • Phil Bienert, Senior Vice President, Consumer Digital Experience, AT&T
  • Richard Char, Head of Information Services, Global Enterprise Payments, Citi
  • Laura Evans, Chief Experience Officer and Researcher, The Washington Post
  • David Lessing, Chief Operating Officer, US Wealth Management, Morgan Stanley Smith Barney
  • Mary McDuffie, Executive Vice President, Delivery Channels and Communications, Navy Federal Credit Union
  • Kevin A. Peters, President, North America, Office Depot
  • Laurie A. Tucker, Senior Vice President, Corporate Marketing, FedEx

Attendees took part in peer networking and a technology showcase where 37 sponsors — including platinum sponsor Acxiom and gold sponsors Acquity Group; Autonomy, an HP Company; EffectiveUI; ForeSee; Oracle, SapientNitro; SDL; and Tealeaf Technology — shared their solutions.

Members of Forrester’s Marketing & Strategy Leadership Boards, including members of the Customer Experience Council, took part in peer networking events. More information on Forrester Leadership Boards is available at: