Voice of Customer (VoC) for Customer Experience & Why You Need It

Voice of Customer (VoC) for Customer Experience & Why You Need It

Voice of Customer + Search = EASE

In the checkout line at my local grocery store last night, I was struck by the parallels between the “real world” experience I was having and what I do for work every day. As a Customer Success & Search Specialist at SearchUnify, my job is to help my clients help their customers and employees easily find answers to their questions. My clients are largely B2B SaaS companies, and they create customer support and self-service experiences to help their customers use their products. I’m in the picture because they’ve adopted my company’s B2B cognitive search platform, SearchUnify.

To do my job well, I often have to convince my clients that merely implementing our search in their customer-facing support communities and technical support ticketing systems will not guarantee success. If you’re thinking, “Huh?” then you’re just like my clients!

But stay with me. It’s true. Search is not a silver bullet, even one powered by Machine Learning and AI. Don’t let anybody tell you different.

Several things make for effective search, most of which have to do with good-old-fashioned content management. As a company wanting to drive successful self- and human-assisted service, you must ensure there are no content gaps, archive outdated and duplicate content, apply a consistent taxonomy across all content sources, and incorporate language that resonates with the people searching. There are other activities too, of course, but if you’re on top of these things, you’re off to an excellent start.

Let’s go back to the checkout line to see why.

Because I love my local grocery, and because I shop almost daily, I have enough experiential data to make assumptions regarding a few of the essentials for good search that they have in place:

  1. They have a complete inventory of store items in their system. When the store no longer carries an item, they remove it from the inventory. When they stock new items, they add them. (This is their content repository and content management strategy.)
  2. Store items are consistently categorized; e.g., fruits and vegetables are under Produce, milk and yogurt are under Dairy, etc. (This is their taxonomy.)

So now, what are they missing?

Enter my evening dinner plan: Roast Cod with Fresh Fennel and Orange.

Everything went swimmingly until…

“What is this?” asked the cashier.

“Fennel,” I said, and spelled it.

She stabbed at the machine, then frowned.

“With an F or a D?”

“An F,” I said.

She frowned again, looked down the line of customers sighing and waiting to be in my position, picked up the bulbs, held them high, and turned around. A woman checking out at the next register helpfully said, “That’s fennel, baby. F-E-N-N-E-L.” (Don’t be offended by the “baby.” We’re familiar like that in New Orleans.)

“Mmm, hmm,” said another lady down the line, “That’s fennel.”

My cashier was gracious. Luckily, a manager was also within eyeshot.

“Oh,” she said knowingly. “That’s ANISE: 4452.”

Anise. A-N-I-S-E. Of course. Because that’s what it’s called in the Produce Department?


Because that’s what it’s called in most recipes?


Because that’s what it’s called on the street?

No, no, and no.

Anise is a seed that’s found in the Spice Aisle. The bulb is Fennel and nothing else. I knew it, the ladies in the next checkout line knew it, and the manager knew it.

So why didn’t the authors of the inventory (content repository) know it? Or, if they did know it, why did they choose to label it something else?

I see it again and again. Businesses get cozy with their own lingo and lose sight of the fact that no one else describes the object/practice/process the same way that they do. Further, it might not even occur to content authors to consider whether their business language makes sense to the people who interact with it.

But this lack of consideration for the Voice of the Customer (VOC) makes for one thing only: a bad customer and customer support experience. My cashier was like a technical support agent desperately trying to help a customer (me) who was at her mercy, as were the other customers in the queue, all of whom had one goal – to quickly collect their items, pay, and go home. The cashier wasn’t able to do her job, to facilitate her customers’ shared goal, because her company failed to set her up to succeed.

Happily, avoiding this situation is easy:

  • Incorporate VOC into your content.
  • Use language that resonates with the people who rely on it. If you’re not sure what that language is, regularly review your customers’ and support employees’ search queries.

If their searches have results and clicks, then well done. If they get zero results, then you either have a content gap or a VOC issue. If it’s the former, fill the gap. If it’s the latter, add their language to your content. Doing so will make everyone’s lives easier.

And couldn’t we all use a little ease?

Ready to Learn More about How Leveraging the Voice of the Customer Leads to Better Product and Support Experiences?

Leveraging the voice of your customer at each touchpoint is critical to helping scale the delivery of successful self-service and assisted support outcomes. Watch this on-demand webinar where Brian Corcoran, Regional Sales Manager, SearchUnify, and Daniel Miller talk about Geotab’s journey with KCS enablement and incorporating VoC and the best practices he has learned along the way.