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Unlock the Potential of Unstructured Data for a Successful VOC Program
Strategies for gaining a competitive edge.
Posted Jun 27, 2014
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Companies work hard to develop all-encompassing voice of the customer (VoC) programs. The success of these programs is based on the quality and variety of data gathered from customers. Increasingly, innovative companies are obtaining customer feedback not only from structured data, such as relationship and transactional surveys or CRM platforms, but also from unstructured, text-based data. Social media, emails, and open-ended survey questions are key to developing insight into a customer's experience. More often than not, these data sources provide deeper insight than structured data sources.

For companies just launching a VoC program, unstructured data can seem overwhelming. Because of this, businesses may avoid tracking and analyzing it, even though approximately 80 percent of enterprise-relevant information originates from the emails, social media, and other comment sources they're ignoring. Following are tips on how and why companies can and should capture unstructured data to gain a valuable competitive advantage.

Where to Start with Unstructured Data

Like all elements of a VoC program, it's best for an organization to start small and build up. Start with solicited and "owned" feedback, such as open text answers to survey questions and comments made on social media pages. Unsolicited feedback is challenging because it's difficult to tie to a specific stage of the customer journey or life cycle, which makes it harder to prioritize data. As companies move to integrate and analyze unsolicited feedback, they can use it to tweak surveys, gain a better understanding of what's going on in the market, and identify ways to improve customer satisfaction.

Automation and Aggregation

Capturing and analyzing data, specifically unstructured data, can be daunting to VoC program managers. For B2C businesses in particular, it doesn't take long for data to build up to a point where it is completely unmanageable. Automation is an essential step in successfully maximizing the value of unstructured data in a VoC program.

Text analytics solutions come in several forms, including standalone platforms and solutions built into broader customer experience management solutions. In essence, these products are able to "understand" what customers have said in free text and refine those messages to categorize each comment accordingly. This enables the automatic aggregation of comments into a series of themes.

Such categorization helps organizations determine the appropriate next steps for solving customer pain. For example, if a theme 


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