Why your VOC program stinks. A 10K Humans Rant.

I don’t want to go on another rant here.

Bullshit. Yes I do.

Your VOC program probably stinks.

Think about it from the “respondent” perspective. How many Voice of the Customer/CX/Product/Service feedback survey requests do you get on an average day? Week?
Month? Year?

How many do you complete? For me it's zero. None. Zilch. And I’m in the industry!

For what reasons, you ask?

I used to take surveys. I mean, they wanted to know how their delivery was!

Every time they delivered a package I got an email – “How was your delivery?”

”Not so great,” I reply. “Yeah, the delivery person keeps putting my packages in front of the door, which when opened, knocks the packages down the front steps. Please put the packages to the right of the door so they don’t get knocked down the steps and then I have to go down the steps to pick them up and I leave the door open and the dog escapes and runs up and down the street like the crazed Basenji mutt he is terrorizing all the nice respectable dog walkers who keep their dog on a leash. Please place the packages to the right of the door.”


I sent this response like twenty times.

They stopped doing it and began putting them to the right of the door like I asked, right?

Nope. Nothing changed. Packages, to this day, continue to be placed squarely in front of my door. Sometimes in a stack of four of five boxes which makes for a dramatic tumbling effect down the steps.

That stinks.

Here’s the top three reasons why your Voice of the Customer program probably stinks as well:

1. You over promise and don’t deliver

Voice of the Customer surveys promise you – oh, ye highly valued customer - a way to provide your valuable input.

To have your needs and wants understood. To achieve unprecedented levels of personalization.

You may even begin self-actualizing.

- Help build the future of brand abc!
- Help us design the next generation of xyz!
- Get an exclusive reward!
- Give us your valuable input!
- Your feedback is critical!
- Improve the customer experience!

Those are some lofty promises! Even the not so lofty promises make us feel important.

But you don’t make us customers feel important for long.

Recently I interviewed a customer of a global financial institution who told me that all the customer feedback data they provide over the course of year must go into “a BLACK HOLE.”


A black hole?!?!?

If your customer feedback loop doesn’t loop back to the customer, what are you telling them?

You’re telling them to STOP filling out your stupid surveys because nothing ever changes/ happens with all of that “critical” input.

Of course, your company may truthfully be doing nothing with the mountains of VOC data you collect, except building spiffy dashboards. That’s a bigger fish to fry.

2. You provide your customers with a disincentive, part 1

If you promise that I get to help BUILD THE FUTURE of your brand, and that my feedback is CRITICAL, I expect a little bit more than a $5 Tango card.

Oh, but wait … only the first 75 respondents will get a $5 Tango card.

The FUTURE of your brand is worth $3,750.00? Must be a shitty brand. Or a used car.

Seriously. I AM NOT MAKING THIS UP. This ^^ is a real-life example, people.

Being shown HOW my valuable, critical collaboration with one of my favorite brands or services made a difference might be a better incentive.

Just a suggestion.

You’re welcome.


3. You provide your customers with a disincentive, part 2

How many times have you sent out that same old product feedback questionnaire, or that same old NPS request, to the SAME customer? Twenty times? Fifty times? Five hundred times?

BORING. One trick pony VOC programs stink.

No one wants to answer the same questions over and over and over and over and over.

No, I will not tell you if I will recommend your product to my friends and family. Frankly it’s none of your f’ing business what I recommend or don’t recommend.

“Press 2 to stay on the line and take our short customer satisfaction survey.” Right. F that.

Get out and talk to your customers where they live and breathe.

Here’s my favorite example.

The Florida DMV … LITERALLY (my kid’s favorite emphasis word) had the gall to produce a poster and put them up in their Stalinesque offices, asking customers to scan a QR code and answer a short survey (isn’t it always short?) on their customer experience.

There were about two-hundred sweaty, smelly people living and breathing in line since 7am.

They could have asked any one of us and we would’ve happily shared our thoughts on our customer experience.

But, having nothing better to do while waiting in line for two hours, I scanned the QR code and told them about my most recent experience at the DMV.

“It f’ing stinks.”

And it never changes; no matter how many completed surveys the DMV receives.


John Holcombe |  SVP Latin American Research

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