home Customer Experience, Employee Experience, Insights and Data Why linking VoC with VoE can be a game-changer!

Why linking VoC with VoE can be a game-changer!

Linking the voice of the employee (VoE) with the voice of the customer (VoC) can create a holistic view of an organisation’s performance. For a number of leading organisations this has proven to be a game-changer for their CX strategy and business.  

VoE refers to the collective opinions, ideas, and feedback of employees within an organisation. It includes their thoughts on various aspects such as company culture, work environment, processes, product or service issues, and customer interactions. VoC, on the other hand, represents the feedback, preferences, and expectations of customers regarding their experiences with a product, service, or brand.

Cassandra Sinclair, former Head of New Product Development at Youi

According to Cassandra Sinclair, former Head of New Product Development at Youi, there is little if any separation between the two. They are effectively two sides of the same coin and should be treated as such. Sinclair explains, “In my experience, it’s very hard to separate VoE from VoC. The action taken based on insights or information obtained from the VoC can greatly impact the employee experience. Alternatively, the perceptions held by customers may be due to something that’s happening as part of the employee experience.”

“There are a lot of commonalities in terms of the tools and methods that you can use to track and monitor both VoC and VoE”, says Sinclair. “I’ve typically found Forrester’s LIAM framework around Listen, Interpret, Act and Monitor to be extremely useful. You can use this framework whether you’re looking at a VoE or a VoC program”.

Holistic view of the business

Ivana Sekanic, Head of CX Solution Strategy ANZ for Qualtrics

VoC is normally a critical component in an organisation’s CX strategy, providing the feedback and insights to help create better experiences for customers. Ivana Sekanic, Head of CX Solution Strategy ANZ for Qualtrics, comments, “VoC is about listening to customer feedback. In the past, this has meant a heavy reliance on surveys to collect this feedback. As the complexity of customer experience has evolved with the introduction of new channels to serve customers, so has the listening around that expanded. What we are seeing now is a more connected element to VoC, with the aim of getting 100% listening of feedback that is occurring across different channels”.

“It could be social reviews or it could be unstructured feedback. We’re seeing the emergence of being able to listen to every single signal that’s appearing somewhere along that journey the customer is having with us.”

Likewise, VoE is about listening to and using employee feedback to improve the employee experience which, in turn, leads to lower staff turnover, lower recruitment costs, greater productivity and more satisfied customers.

Dr Crissa Sumner, Head of XM Advisory Services, APJ Qualtrics

To obtain employee feedback organisations use a variety of methods such as surveys, focus groups, suggestion boxes, or regular team meetings. Dr Crissa Sumner, Head of XM Advisory Services, APJ Qualtrics, comments, “VoE has evolved a lot in recent years. If we go back just a few years ago for most organisations, if they said VoE, what they were talking about was a yearly engagement or culture survey. Nowadays, VoE is more about building a more connected and continuous program of monitoring and listening to employee feedback.

These days VoE programs can monitor every part of the employee journey. Dr Sumner says, “VoE now encompasses monitoring every stage of the employee’s life cycle, starting from their onboarding experience all the way through to their exit experience. We can use these data-driven insights to help us with talent acquisition, or in building an inclusive culture, or support learning and leadership development. There’s been a tremendous evolution in the space”.

Bonnie Mooney, Head of Design and VoC at McMillan Shakespeare (MMS)

The collected employee feedback can be analysed to identify common themes, trends, and areas for improvement. The analysis of employee feedback delivers insights into the employee perspective and identifies potential gaps or issues in delivering an exceptional customer experience. Bonnie Mooney, Head of Design and VoC at McMillan Shakespeare (MMS), comments, “Understanding where your low-performing areas across the business are, in terms of employee engagement and productivity, can translate to better customer experiences by understanding where you need to invest internally to improve performance. You’re VoE should not only encompass feedback and insights for the organisation as a whole, but it needs to dive into the performance of individual business units and teams.”

“Do you have a high-performing team or a low-performing one? What factors are contributing to a particular business unit’s successful performance? Is it due to the nature of the work or do they have a high-performing manager? You need to understand what those drivers are.”

The insights gained from linking VoE with VoC allow organisations to make informed decisions and take targeted actions to address customer concerns, improve internal processes, enhance employee engagement, and ultimately deliver a better customer experience. Sekanic says, “These insights can have a strategic impact and help leaders make critical decisions about the business, but they can also have an immediate and tactical impact on frontline employees and their interactions with customers. We can help our frontline employees to understand what ways we can drive better customer outcomes”.  

By comparing and correlating the data from both employee and customer feedback, organisations can identify potential areas of alignment or misalignment between the employee and customer experience. “For a good implementation of any product or service you need to think holistically, across the customer journey and the employee journey and the backend systems and processes that facilitate that. That’s what delivers a premium customer experience”, says Mooney.

Stakeholder buy-in

To link your VoC and VoE programs and ensure they deliver on their objectives requires buy-in from a range of stakeholders within the organisation. Sinclair says, “Where I’ve seen it work really well is where you have customer teams working really closely in conjunction with HR or your people experience teams and leveraging the subject matter experts across both. It also needs top-down support as well and the KPIs for you VoE and VoC be part of a group scorecard”.

It can be difficult within some organisations to get buy-in from senior executives and therefore the necessary funding and resources to do the research around employees. Mooney says, “So much time is spent thinking and talking about the customer, which you absolutely need to do, but there may be a tendency to forget about the people delivering those products and services to our customers. There’s a pretty strong correlation to a bad customer service score if your employees aren’t engaged”.

Every part of an organisation can be under pressure where budgets are limited and there’s a whole host of competing priorities. Linking VoE with VoC allows HR leaders to quantify and verify the ROI and other benefits of investing in employee research, and use this information to gain senior executive buy-in. Dr Sumner says, “In the past, managers have accepted and assumed that if I have a highly engaged workforce they are going to work harder, they are going to go above and beyond and they going to create that great customer experience that we’re looking to deliver. The exciting thing about linking the VoE and the VoC program is that HR leaders and people and culture leaders can really back all of that up.  They can demonstrate to senior executives when we see an uplift in employee engagement or experience what the quantifiable impact it has on customer experience.”

“This is really critical in terms of ensuring HR leaders have the buy-in they need for their people initiatives, that these things are actually being prioritised and there is budget behind them.”

Insights to action

Ultimately, the insights obtained from VoC and VoE programs and linking the two together need to generate action. Employees, like customers, want to know that their feedback is actually being listened to and acted upon, or have explained to them why certain things are not feasible. Sekanic explains, “You need to set up a system of action at multiple levels of the organisation. This might start at the most senior level in terms of using insights to inform strategic decisions that the organisation is making. But then cascading those insights and the right type of insights to managers and teams who deliver customer service”.

Linking VoC and VoE programs can allow organisations to set up closed-loop processes based on identifying aspects of employee experience that are really strong drivers of customer experience. Dr Sumner says, “For one organisation I worked with, when employees felt safe in their store, they are much more likely to deliver a great customer experience. Now what you can then do is use employee sense of safety as a lead indicator. If you see that dropping off, you can intervene early before you see the flow-on effect in terms of negative impact on the customer experience.”

Happy and engaged employees create better outcomes

“Happy employees just deliver a better customer experience”, says Mooney. “Better customer service, better products, and services are delivered when designed by people who are engaged. Improving exmployee experience makes improving customer experience less of a challenge.”

Overall, linking the voice of the employee with the voice of the customer enables organisations to gain a more complete understanding of their business ecosystem. It promotes a customer-centric culture, drives continuous improvement, and empowers employees to contribute to the success of the organisation by aligning their efforts with customer expectations. Dr Sumner concludes, “I believe linking VoC with VoE is an absolute game-changer for organisations. Organisations need to be connecting these programs and not operating them in silos. But I would advise, after working with many organisations in pilot and review programs, that you don’t want to dive in too quickly and boil the ocean. For the program to be successful, it’s critical the existing capabilities are mature enough and can be integrated to meet the demands.”

Mark Atterby

Mark Atterby has 18 years media, publishing and content marketing experience.