What Is the Difference Between Voice of Customer and Market Research?

A lot of folks believe that voice of customer (VoC) programs and market research mean the same thing—but they’re actually quite different! In fact, each discipline differs in purpose, design, analysis and outcomes. However, even though they’re different, one isn’t better than the other and brands need both if they want their customer experience (CX) programs to reach their potential. So, with that in mind, let’s get into a quick primer on how VoC and market research differ.

Voice of Customer

VoCs are an essential part of any CX toolkit. They’re designed to fulfill many critical functions for your program, including, as their name implies, understanding customer needs. They’re also useful for understanding customer expectations, as well as what those individuals may want from you before even they know. This information can then be used to adjust operations, inform marketing efforts, and help your organization create both short- and long-term Experience Improvement (XI).

Not all Voice of Customer feedback comes from surveys and focus groups, either. A lot of it comes from unsolicited feedback (website reviews, social media comments, etc). Unsolicited feedback is helpful because it gives customers a chance to express themselves entirely in their own terms, which may alert brands to problems and journey breakages that they weren’t aware of. All of this boils down to the ability to not just capture individual and collective customer feedback, but act upon it. Taking action is crucial to Experience Improvement and building connective relationships.

Market Research

While Voice of Customer is all about feedback, market research takes a slightly wider lens by focusing on understanding the trends around your business. Primary market research is useful for testing new communications and services that your company wants to put out there, while secondary market research looks at the dynamics and sizing of the marketplace around you. Conducting these types of research can help your company identify your target market, segment your customers, and identify growth opportunities.

Your company can supercharge its market research efforts by defining the population you want to target with a survey, then creating samples that ensure you’ll have a match. We’ve found that surveys like these are most effective when they’re blind, meaning that the customer or individual stays anonymous while taking them, and challenge you to do the same! This method is great for reducing response bias.

Dual Strategy

VoC and market research aren’t the same, but your CX program and your organization need both in order to truly understand your customers as people. That fundamental, holistic understanding fuels unforgettable experiences that build loyalty while also creating additional revenue! So be bold in your strategy and use both VoC and market research. Your customers will feel heard, your C-suite will be impressed, and the experiences you provide will be meaningfully transformed.

Click here to read our full-length white paper on why your brand needs both VoC and market research. Our very own Eric Smuda has spent decades in both fields and provides an in-depth look not just at why these disciplines are important, but how your organization can wield them effectively.

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