“Voice of the Customer” and “federal government” are not two phrases that are often heard in the same sentence. Is it possible to encourage federal agencies/departments to really make an active effort to listen to their “customers?” What would be their incentive to hear what their customers have to say? To minimize confusion, let’s first define what “Voice of the Customer” is.
Voice of the Customer (VoC) – any effort to shed light on a customer’s needs and desires with the intent to improve a product or service.
– Christine Jung, Blue Compass
VoC can manifest as a process, method, program, or technology. Consulting companies can provide VoC consulting solutions while technology companies provide a VoC platform or a VoC module to an existing product. For instance, a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool could have a VoC module that customers could purchase for an additional cost. They can and should work hand-in-hand. But what can the Federal Government gain from implementing this idea?
If the government agency cares about their relevancy, then they should care about the VoC. While the commercial side of the US economy experiences a positive growth, the government side continues to experience budget reduction. The often repeated message that the government has to do “more with less,” and the words “rate reduction” have been thrown out there so many times that I’ve lost count. It’s clear that the government sector has not seen the positive growth of the commercial side in the past few years. As a result of budget reduction, each federal agency is forced to compete with each other because only the most relevant projects will continue to get funding. And how does a federal agency show relevancy? By meeting or exceeding the expectations of its customers. The agencies that fail to show relevancy will lose significant funding or be dissolved entirely.
If the government agency cares about quality (which they should), then they should care about the VoC. Understanding your customer-base is a difficult task for anyone, not just the federal government. But those companies that conduct customer/market research understand what it takes to deliver a quality product or service that meets customer expectations. Without understanding the customer, your technology will be based off unfounded assumptions, which can be detrimental to your outcome.
So what should be done next? In order to stay relevant in a budget-conscience environment, federal agencies and departments need to invest in customer/market research to codify who their customer is, and what their customer is saying. Blue Compass is well-positioned to assist government agencies to implement VoC programs with similar impact as VoC programs found at customer-oriented commercial companies.