Insights · 6 min read

Why VoC isn’t enough: The customer who won’t come back

Kirsten Newbold-Knipp
Posted April 08, 2021
Why VoC isn’t enough: The customer who won’t come back

Once considered the gold standard of customer insights, VoC (Voice of the Customer) feedback remains a critical tool in the arsenal of any customer-centric leader–but we’ve all come to realize it’s simply not enough.

Take for instance the story of “The Customer Who Won’t Come Back.” As a former hospitality leader, this story was at the heart of many training moments along my journey to guest empathy and observation that would lead to improvements in experience. 

“I’m a nice customer. You all know me: I’m the one who never complains, no matter what kind of service I get. I never criticize. No, I’m the nice customer. And I’ll tell you who else I am. I’m the customer who never comes back!” ~ Author Unknown

The short of it is that only a small number of customers complain or provide honest, constructive criticism of their experiences–in fact CX researcher Esteban Kolsky found that 91% of unhappy customers who are non-complainers simply leave–be they at a 5-star hotel or at your digital front door. In fact, business leaders often mistake a quiet customer for a happy one. 

Yet, as I learned in conversations with Faith Adams at Forrester, the bulk of brands don’t go beyond VoC, and digital teams today spend an inordinate amount of time culling through reviews and surveys in hopes of finding the reasons customer bounce or churn. That feedback is valuable–but imagine all the customers who simply arrived on your site or in your app, couldn’t find what they wanted or began a transaction only to hit a frustrating snag or bug, and simply left. They were busy and if your brand couldn’t be bothered to create a helpful, friction-free experience, why should they bother leaving feedback? After all, there’s a perfectly good competitor just a few clicks away.

What if you had Magic Goggles?

As a young manager in a hotel, I learned to watch my guests’ body language, non-verbal cues, and patterns. It became easy to spot someone who wasn’t having a great experience–I might ask them for input or simply observe a long wait, the hold times, a cold dish. Unfortunately, that level of observation is nearly impossible at scale–at least in real life. When it comes to digital, however, it is possible to learn at scale about the hang time, the error clicks, and a large array of observable frustration signals your customers are experiencing. 

At FullStory, we affectionately refer to our software as a pair of ‘Magic Goggles.’ By collecting and analyzing data for high-fidelity recreation of user sessions, minus sensitive data, we provide deep visibility into a customer’s digital experience, enabling brands to understand and empathize with users and site visitors at scale. Tools like Google Analytics, Adobe Analytics, Heap, and Mixpanel all tell you what happened on your site. VoC gives you a glimpse of a few reasons that your most engaged customers were annoyed. But none of them offer the unspoken answers to why customers won’t come back quite like digital experience intelligence solutions. 

The magic of these theoretical goggles is the unfiltered observation of the good, the bad, the ugly, and typically unintentional flaws that cause your customers digital distress. We recently engaged with a restaurant that learned that their digital, in-store ordering app had a bug in a specific operating system that was preventing customers from tipping their waitstaff. The realization that they were not only frustrating customers but also shortchanging their staff led to cringes all around–and a high priority fix. This was something they hadn’t learned with any of the other tools in their toolkit–the Magic Goggles truly opened their eyes.

The modern PM’s DX stack: FullStory + VoC + Web Analytics + Testing

I’ll admit, as much as I enjoyed certain aspects of my hospitality career, I don’t relish the days of ‘anecdata,’ essentially sifting through handwritten comment cards and attempting to personally observe guest frustrations. Living in the age of digital experiences and real-time access to insights about their flows, dropoff points, RageClicks (™), and more is rather magical. Using AI and machine learning to develop empathy for customers has never been easier.

For digital experience leaders and product managers, there is a dizzying array of tools available to help pull together this story. We believe there is a set of critical components emerging as the ideal tech stack for this modern DX leader or PM. It sits at the intersection of quantitative and qualitative data connected to experimentation for ultimate understanding and optimized outcomes.

Best in class brands are investing in:

  • VoC: The OG of customer-led tools, VoC is still a critical component for knowing your customer. Hearing directly from a handful of customers lends context and emotion to other insights.  

  • Web Analytics: Without them, brands would struggle to understand core traffic patterns and relationships with referring domains, organic keywords, and their related end results.

  • A/B Testing: Now mainstream and included as a capability in many digital experience platforms, the ability to test hypotheses and drive toward statistically improved outcomes has become table stakes.

  • DX Intelligence: With 15-20 percent market penetration and rapid growth according to Gartner’s Hype Cycle for Customer Experience Analytics, qualitative data generated through observation at scale is emerging as a powerful complement to more traditional quantitative tools

Double down on digital insights to delight and retain customers

Recently, the team at FTD embarked on a digital transformation that relies on FullStory as a lynchpin among its suite of best-in-class solutions to help PMs and engineers think more about users than system flow. The company is rearchitecting to create “surprise and delight” experiences, and needs robust data to understand where, how, and why users are getting frustrated or hitting snags along the way. With an immense amount of change in their digital touchpoints, simply waiting on customers to tell them where they encounter issues isn’t good enough. 

This year promises to be pivotal for digital customer experiences. Now is the time for brands to get ahold of some Magic Goggles that allow them to anticipate customer needs and observe their overall digital experience by going beyond a handful of survey responses. Use the power of the modern DX stack and take advantage of the new capabilities that digital experience intelligence affords to empathize with all your customers–and keep them coming back.

To read more about building a tech stack that helps you get the most out of your data, check out our guide to the Modern Support Stack.

Kirsten Newbold-KnippCMO

About the author

Kirsten is the Chief Marketing Officer at FullStory. She is based in Austin, Texas.

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