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.

Three Ways to Create a Successful Linkage Analysis Strategy

Linkage analysis is a key part of any customer experience (CX) program. It’s a process that allows companies to dig deep into the experiences they provide to ask the big CX questions: what could the business do better, what are customers seeing, what is impacting finances, and how to create and sustain true Experience Improvement (XI).

Today, we’re going to run through three elements we’ve seen companies use to create amazing linkage analysis strategies, enabling practitioners like you to meaningfully improve customers’ experiences, create a strong bottom line, and point back to all of this when going back for more funding!

Three Elements of Successful Linkage Analysis Strategies

  1. Business Insights
  2. Customer-Specific Details
  3. What If” Scenarios

Key #1: Business Insights

Business insights are one of customer relationships’ biggest building blocks. Diving into this element of your CX program empowers your team to better understand the relationship between retention, loyalty, and profitability. Once you’ve got that intel handy, your program’s ties to overall business wins and drivers become clear as day! Such drivers might include how customer experience relates to loyalty, how business ops are affecting retention, and the financial impact that comes with Experience Improvement. That last one is especially important for proving ROI and making the case for the positive impact your program has on customer relationships!

Key #2: Customer-Specific Details

While on the subject of customers, let’s get into how linkage analysis can cover details unique to the people who keep your brand trucking. Specifically, you want to look at the mechanics of specific transactions and behaviors. How intuitive is your contact center menu? Can customers jump between channels en route to getting a single issue resolved? How effective does your customer service have to be for your organization to maintain its market position, and how far might you rise if that service was improved? Questions like these vary from brand to brand, but knowing the answers makes all the difference.

Key #3: “What If” Scenarios

Our third and final tip for making linkage analysis valuable to your company is integrating it into as many simulations as possible. Organizational success comes from future-proofing your experience, which means knowing about customer preferences and potential obstacles before they even fully form. This foresight is where linkage analysis can be very useful, because brands can use it to envision, say, the revenue that could be gained by shortening the claims process, or the retention boost from a more engaged workforce.

The Next Step

CX programs can get a big boost from applying linkage analysis toward these ends, but how else might linkage analysis boost Experience Improvement? Click here to read our full report on everything linkage analysis can do for your brand, your customer relationships, and your bottom line!

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