The voice of the customer is an important driver of process improvement. Yet businesses have traditionally struggled to understand it at the speed and scale required. Fortunately, Communications Mining can give them unprecedented visibility into their business conversation channels.
The voice of the customer is a powerful thing. In the aftermath of the pandemic, companies are communicating with their customers more than ever. They’re hungry for their feedback and determined to find new ways to improve the customer experience.
Yet the voice of the customer remains elusive. Only 29% of businesses say they systematically incorporate insights about customer needs into their decision-making. Often it’s down to a lack of data, but it can also be due to a lack of confidence and stakeholder support. Can a survey accurately represent what your customers think? Are you willing to make big changes to the business because of it?
At a time of mass digital communications, business leaders have more data and insight to draw from when finding the voice of the customer. Yet only now have the tools become available to capture and understand all this information. And business leaders are using it to improve far more than just the customer experience.
Where does process improvement begin?
As a business grows and becomes more complex, efficiency takes centre stage. Leaders of core business functions - everything from Finance to HR and Operations - are tasked with making their processes as streamlined and cost-efficient as possible. For transformation and intelligent automation leaders, process improvement is their core responsibility.
But where should this process start? How do businesses build a pipeline of improvements, and prioritise them for production? Many leaders will start with the processes in question. They’ll invest time in process mapping exercises and spend money on process and task mining solutions. Hoping to find the gaps or inefficiencies that can be plugged with automation.
This approach misses the forest for the trees. It isn’t products, processes and workflows that define a business. They keep things running, but they won’t keep the business alive. That’s what customers do. Process improvement must begin with the customer. If processes don’t work for them, then they’ll simply take their revenue elsewhere.
That isn’t to say process analysis isn’t important, or that process mining can’t be useful. Both are crucial for cutting costs and driving efficiencies. The point is that they shouldn’t be your jumping off point when it comes to process improvement. A bad process is still a bad process, no matter how efficient you’ve made it.
Instead, prioritise the changes that customers are demanding. These are the improvements that will fuel growth and revenue, not just cut costs. You need to involve the customer in your process improvement strategy from the beginning. Make them the catalyst.
The problem of unstructured data
However, listening to your customers isn’t always easy. Ultimately it’s a problem of scale. A large business will have thousands or potentially millions of customers. You can’t speak to them all. A survey or series of stakeholder interviews will only ever give you a small cross-section of opinion. There’s no guarantee they’ll guide you to the most urgent or valuable change opportunities.
Some companies have created innovative solutions to capture a wider range of customer opinion. This includes analytics tools that analyse masses of social media content to extract common themes, issues and potential change opportunities. Yet even this doesn’t reach the scale of opinion required. Such in-house solutions can also be difficult and costly to build - beyond the resources of most businesses.
To accurately capture the voice of the customer, you have to analyse every customer conversation you can. This means everything from inbound emails in your customer support centre, to instant messaging chats and phone calls between service agents and customers. Any channel left out impacts the accuracy and authenticity of the results. At some point, a form of mass conversations intelligence is essential.
The challenge is that customer conversations have always been very difficult to capture. This is because they are expressed solely in human language. Most analytics tools need structured data to extract insights and produce useful results. But conversations, even when they take place on digital channels, don’t produce this.
Communications Mining: Capturing the voice of the customer
Communications Mining gives business leaders the power to analyse and understand every conversation in the enterprise. The technology uses natural language processing to convert unstructured communications - both voice and text-based - into structured data that the business can actually use. Conversational Data Intelligence platforms like Re:infer make it easy to analyse and extract valuable customer insights from this data, in real-time and on a massive scale.
For the first time, business leaders have complete visibility into all customer contact channels. Communications Mining enables them to capture the full voice of the customer, with unprecedented accuracy. Common issues and valuable change opportunities, once hidden in masses of communications, become clear as day. In this way, the customer is finally involved in the improvement process. Communications Mining creates a steady pipeline of efficiencies and improvements, straight from the customer’s mouth.
Unlike changes inspired by internal process analysis, these get to the heart of what customers want. Such improvements don’t just cut costs and improve efficiencies - they fuel growth and strengthen the customer relationship.
When you can hear the voice of the customer, the rest of the business will come to you. No matter what line of business you’re responsible for, your knowledge of customer opinions and desires holds capital. You can drive improvement efforts across the entire business - an agent of growth and the changes that matter to customers.