So says Andrew McInnes of Forrester in a blog post out today. He argues that Voice of the Customer (VoC) programs are delivering benefits for customers but having no financial impact. He quite right argues that this disjointedness can’t continue because, in today’s environment above all others, initiatives need to show a return.

We believe that this phenomenon is happening quite frequently, and it’s often because companies collect data and interpret it at quarterly, half yearly or annual intervals. Whilst the data collected is very interesting and makes a great report, it doesn’t actually drive real change for customers in real time and so the service doesn’t actually improve, therefore the customer share of spend and word of mouth effect great service can bring, simply doesn’t happen. Calling a customer 3 months after their experience with you to ask them a net promoter or similar question might get to the bottom of why something went wrong in your business. But it won’t fix it for the customer on the spot, which is what creates real loyalty and wins them over.

I think it comes down to the difference between a truly service-obsessed business, and one for whom the ‘voice of the customer’ program is just that – a program. Forward-thinking organisations are putting in tools that allow them to take customers’ temperatures in real time and take geniune and swift rectifying action if there’s a problem. They are using that same technique to uncover real time instances of staff delivering brilliant service and delighting customers so that they can build them into what they do every day. Making customer satisfaction personal and real time is the best way to gain true financial rewards from VoC programmes.