Recently I ordered a pair of shoes online – they didn’t fit so I returned them with the prepaid label and in record time I received another pair. Even though frictionless buying experiences like that are becoming increasingly common, they still amaze and impress me.

At the same time, most of us still have daily encounters with companies that don’t meet expectations. That’s unfortunate, because to succeed in today’s competitive economy, addressing customers’ needs quickly, proactively and effectively isn’t just an option, it’s critical to business survival. Poor service, awkward logistics, insufficient information and other issues can all spell trouble. In fact, in a 2017 Salesforce.com survey of over 6,700 consumers and business buyers, 76% of respondents indicated that it’s easier than ever to take their business elsewhere if a brand doesn’t meet their expectations or understand their needs.

So how do you know what customers want? Ask them.

Establishing a voice-of-the-customer (VoC) program can help capture feedback, expectations and new ideas to build loyalty, improve customer retention and nurture sales expansion. And while many top brands have VoC programs in place, businesses of all types and sizes, including Cisco partners, can use VoC to gain a competitive edge.

Three Ways to Get Started

Establishing a VoC program is more than just asking your customers what they think – it requires a systematic approach to consistently listening and measuring results, and then mapping those results to your organizational goals. Here are simple overviews of three of the most popular VoC methods:

  • Net Promoter Score (NPS) is based on a single question asking whether the customer would recommend your business. Ideally the question is accompanied by open text so customers can explain why or why not and offer ideas for improvement. This metric is easy to explain, understand and calculate. Plus, it’s widely used, so comparing it against industry benchmarks is easy as well. To arrive at your NPS score, you subtract the percentage of detractors from the percentage of promotors.


“What is the likelihood that you will recommend XYZ company to a colleague or friend?”

  • Customer Effort Score (CES) measures the effort a customer puts forth to complete a transaction or resolve an issue. It assesses the overall ease of the customers’ interactions with the company they are doing business with. Customers want effortless service, which is why CES is a good metric to gauge each stage of the customer lifecycle. The metric ranges from Strongly Agree to Strongly Disagree, with an inverted scale; so the lower the score, the better it is for the business.


“To what extent do you agree with the following statement? The company made it easy to handle my issue (customer service, purchase process).”

  • Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) asks customers to rate their experience with various aspects of products, services, transactions or even the overall business. The score is presented as the average response, ranging from Very Satisfied to Unsatisfied.


“How would you rate your experience with Company X?”

Ensure a Closed Loop Process

No matter which approach you take, ensuring success requires a closed-loop process that includes capturing customer feedback, analyzing the data, acting to improve upon the experience and monitoring the results. A good measurement system will establish priorities so that you can focus on what needs to be fixed and how to fix it, enabling you to zero in on the issues that matter the most.

Lastly, it’s important to respond to and address both positive and negative feedback: when your customers take the time to provide their advice and suggestions, show your appreciation by immediately thanking them, and then, more importantly, swiftly taking action.

In an age when the power of word-of-mouth referrals, online reviews and industry influencers is at an all-time high, a VoC program can help you strengthen customer loyalty – increasing the chances that they will refer you to others as they continue to expand their business with you.

Want to know more? Check out this #SuccessTalk webinar recording, “Measure Value in Voice of the Customer.”



Monica Koedel

Sr. Director of Digital Experience