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A guest blog post by Bill Bruno, CEO of Stratigent, a market leader in multi-channel analytics.

When people hear the phrase “Voice of Customer” (VOC) they instantly think of surveys and comment cards deployed on their website. The problem is: if you think VOC as merely a provider of customer opinions, you are missing the real value of the technology. There is no better metric for improving your customer experience than actual customer feedback.

For years, organizations have tried to use attitudinal data to enhance the analysis of the behavioral data within their analytics solution. But if your approach is to merely review what people are saying on your site, you’ll most likely fall into one of the following mindsets:

  • We don’t get enough feedback on the site to be representative of our customer base.
  • It would be a full-time job to sift through all the feedback to find the valuable insights.
  • I don’t know what a satisfaction score means or how I can affect that positively.
  • We build alerts based off of keywords or specific pages to try and catch critical path issues and comments.

Based upon the work we do for our clients on a daily basis, my goal is to get you to think differently about the power of VOC. Since roughly 2006, Stratigent has worked with VOC vendors, such as OpinionLab, to help clients transcend the mindsets outlined above. Gone are the days where having a fancy, scientific “satisfaction score” matters; the reality is that your customers leave feedback for one of two reasons:

  1. They are brand loyal and are thrilled about something you’ve done, a product you have, or just generally want to gush and let you know they love you (less likely).
  2. They are upset, can’t figure out how to do something, have run into an error/issue, or just generally think you deserve to be yelled at for some reason(more likely).

The true power of VOC is action.

Since option #2 is more likely, you have the ability in that moment to take action on the feedback and turn those frowns upside down. For the remainder of this newsletter, I’m going to outline some of the more innovative and impactful applications of VOC data:

  • Personas
  • Immediate Action
  • Personalization
  • A/B or Multi-Variate testing (MVT) segmentation
  • Customer Experience Management
  • On-Premises Feedback (Geolocation)


Many people seem to forget that comment cards provide a unique opportunity to try and gain real value from the feedback (instead of just getting yelled at). You need to capitalize off the opportunity that has presented itself: a customer has decided to take time out of his/her day to tell you something. So when you set up those comment cards on your site, how do you decide what questions to ask? In that moment, you should make sure you’re asking a few (but not too many) questions that will help give you more information about that person. Furthermore, you should make sure you’re asking guided questions tailored to the different areas of your digital presence instead of simply using a generic comment card across your site.

As an example, one of our clients knew that they could place their customers into one of 3 personas the marketing department had identified based upon that person’s answers to a few key questions. So, we built those questions right into the comment cards and stored the persona for later use based upon the answers. I’ll take this a step further in a few of the upcoming sections, but keep in mind that this persona could be persisted for the duration of that visit and all subsequent visits with the right level of implementation finesse.

Immediate Action

As I mentioned earlier, you have a unique opportunity to respond right away to the feedback someone is leaving you on your digital channel. For example, if a customer says that they can’t find a manual for a specific product, wouldn’t it be great if you could quickly provide them the link for the manual before they leave your site?

Many VOC solutions give you the ability to customize the “Thank You” page that a user will be prompted with upon clicking submit. So, as you start to analyze the common feedback you receive from customers, you may detect patterns or common asks. With some simple coding logic embedded within the “Thank You” page you can tailor the content within the “Thank You” page as it renders to solve for the specific issue to which the customer is calling your attention. Boom. Problem solved and that customer leaves happy and fulfilled.


It is important to remember that your VOC comment card is merely an extension of your digital channel. For those of you collecting feedback on your website, as an example, the comment cards are simply pages on your site provided you implement it correctly. Going back to the persona example, think of the power at your fingertips if you are able to learn about your customers based upon the feedback they have provided and take action based off that knowledge.

Perhaps you’ve asked them to provide their income level or the purpose of their visit; maybe you are interested in identifying their persona or status level in your loyalty program. With the help of a strategic data layer you can persist that information and make use of it during that visit or all subsequent visits (within reason depending upon how you implement).  From there, you can start to personalize content and re-market these individuals based upon what you already know about them and the behaviors they exhibit from that point forward.

As an example, perhaps you prioritize the order of articles or brochures on a page automatically based upon the identified purpose of someone’s visit as a result of their feedback. The best part? All of this can be done in an automated way without manual intervention.

A/B or MVT Segmentation

This is merely an extension of personalization, as these two concepts go hand-in-hand. At Stratigent, we look at optimization from two perspectives:

  • Proactive Testing
  • Passive Personalization

Passive personalization would be the content targeting and personalization I’ve outlined previously. Proactive testing would be the A/B and MVT approach. With testing, you can run a test for all of your website traffic or a segmented sample of your traffic. The real value is in segmenting your tests for specific scenarios as that will slowly graduate to passive personalization and building a learning engine.

By storing an individual’s answers to the questions within your comment cards, you now have the ability to use all of those answers as “segments” for future A/B or MVT you may run on your site.

Customer Experience Management

At Stratigent, we have an entire practice dedicated to Customer Experience. A common technology we help customers use in this realm is IBM Tealeaf – a platform that helps companies overcome the online visibility gap by capturing the qualitative details of each visitor interaction to provide the insight and answers required to ensure websites are consistently delivering a positive, successful experience. A main complaint about Tealeaf, however, is the abundance of data within the system and the amount of effort required to uncover insights within a dataset of that size.

One of the coolest integrations we’ve built for customers is the integration of OpinionLab with Tealeaf. With the OpinionLab integration, you can:

  • Use VOC data to identify segments within Tealeaf based upon common feedback topics or complaints
  • “Replay” sessions for users based upon specific feedback they have left in order to diagnose the root issues your customers are facing

Being able to look at Tealeaf data via this lens has resulted in some unbelievable ROI and insights for our customers.

On-Premises Feedback (Geolocation)

We live in a multi-channel world. Your customers are potentially not just unhappy on your websites, mobile apps, etc.They are also potentially experiencing issues within your retail locations, banks, on your airplanes, in your hotels, etc. The more touch points for your business there are, the increased chance that there will be issues your customers will run into. There are a few ways we’ve worked with clients to approach a multi-channel solution:

  • Adjust your comment cards on your website to let customers leave feedback about the website or a physical location
  • A great example of this is Home Depot

Free your mind: Voice of Customer

  •  Embed feedback into your mobile app and take one of the following approaches:
  •  Simply allow your customers to leave feedback about their experience and input their location
  • With geolocation turned on, automatically determine the location when customers leave feedback for the store they are in or near
  • Empower your store managers, hotel managers, etc. with the ability to monitor feedback about their specific locations in real-time to give them a chance to take action right away

When it comes to solving issues in real-time by location, OpinionLab offers the ability to create a “comment mosaic” for businesses to filter feedback based upon location, specific terms, store numbers, etc. The mosaic can provide a filtered view to the appropriate people for each location in a timely manner so they can make decisions and rectify problems before their impact reaches detrimental levels.

Comment Mosaic

Final Thoughts

If you’re not currently deploying a VOC technology, you should consider putting that on your roadmap for 2015. There is an incredible opportunity for you to enhance your brand experience and increase conversions by simply giving your customers the ability to provide you with feedback. That’s not to say that all feedback will be valuable or worth taking action on, but you’re missing out on the low-hanging fruit by not listening to your customers.

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