• June 29, 2012
  • By Leonard Klie, Editor, CRM magazine and SmartCustomerService.com

Forrester Names Its Voice of the Customer Awards Winners

NEW YORK (Forrester Customer Experience Forum) – Analyst firm Forrester this week named Cisco Systems, Barclaycard US, and Vanguard as the winners of its fourth annual Forrester Research Voice of the Customer Awards.  The awards recognize companies for their efforts to collect, interpret, and act on customer feedback.

According to Adele Sage, a Forrester analyst and judge in the competition, Barclaycard US stood out for its VoC-fueled cultural transformation. Employees begin each day by listening to a randomly selected real customer call, a practice that has led to cross-functional dialogue and swift changes to policies. A newly created Customer Experience Hopper of 75 customer evangelists from across functional areas has already implemented 25 key initiatives, with plans for 60 more this year. This approach has even spurred a change to the way the company creates products, including a new model in which it combines social media, financial education, and online banking to craft a crowd-sourced credit card. These collective initiatives have paid off: Customer complaints are down 50 percent, and customer attrition has improved by 28 percent, adding up to more than $10 million in annual benefit.

Network technology provider Cisco Systems stood out for its laser focus on making it easy to do business with Cisco. The program analyzes insights from surveys, social media, and a core employee listening post to identify opportunities to simplify processes and remove customer, partner, and employee pain points. For example, the online customer support Web site needed some help, so the company streamlined processes and improved navigation to enable customers to solve their issues quickly. The result is that 81 percent of issues are now resolved online, which avoids 356,000 cases per month.

Investment firm Vanguard stood out for its ability to integrate and centralize data. Using both passive and active listening techniques, including in-depth interviews, focus groups, analytics, and client feedback surveys across channels, the company integrates all the data sources to understand clients fully. All this data lives with a centralized Client Insight group, members of which act as client advocates by delivering tailored, actionable insights and research to the rest of the business. The resulting improvement projects range from crew coaching to streamlining processes to service recovery efforts. Collectively, these improvements have resulted in $5.1 billion in additional assets, $1 million in savings, and a 33 percent increase in referrals of $100,000 leads.

"We received roughly 40 nominations, and, yet again, we were incredibly impressed with the breadth and depth of the submissions," Sage wrote in a blog post. "We broadened our scope, too: For the first time, we accepted nominations from around the world."

From the pool of 40 nominations, the team of judges selected 10 finalists based on their clarity of approach, impact on customer experiences, impact on business performance, degree of innovation, and lessons provided for other firms. In addition to Barclaycard, Cisco, and Vanguard, the other finalists were American Cancer Society, American Family Insurance, ExactTarget, Intercontinental Hotels Group, JetBlue, OpenText, and United Healthcare Medicare & Retirement.

"VoC programs continue to incorporate more customer data, influence more internal stakeholders, and deliver more value to their customers and their bottom lines," Sage sain in a statement. "The best VoC programs this year connected the dots between their VoC activities and a better customer experience and associated business results."

This is the second consecutive year OpenText has been named a finalist in the program.

"We are pleased to have been named a finalist for a second time in the Forrester Research Voice of the Customer Awards," said James Latham, OpenText's chief marketing officer, in a statement. "The results of our "culture of the customer" initiative have been significant across the entire organization, impacting revenue, customer relationships, and corporate culture."

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