Embracing the Voice of the Customer (VoC) is a powerful strategy for businesses looking to thrive in a customer-centric environment. By actively listening to your customers and responding to their feedback, you can build stronger relationships, enhance your products and services, and position your business for sustained success.
Equipped with insights from VoC data, business leaders can also steer their organization towards delivering improved experiences, offering better products and services, and creating more value for customers.
Voice of the Customer Definition
Voice of the Customer (VoC) is a business and technology term used to describe a process that aims to capture customer’s expectations, preferences, experiences, and feedback. The goal is to learn about their expectations regarding the business’ products or services.
Often applied as a market research technique by firms looking to achieve a better and more complete understanding of the customer, VoC can also help companies measure and understand the experiences that they deliver to customers. Armed with this knowledge, companies can build stronger brands, function as more efficient organizations, and deliver better customer experiences.
A Voice of the Customer program helps your business reap the benefits of listening, acting, and responding to what customers say about your brand, product, service, or business location.
Why Voice of the Customer Is Important
The Voice of the Customer data is important for several reasons in business and product development. Primarily, VoC helps organizations become more customer-centric by understanding customer needs, preferences, and expectations. This customer-centric focus is crucial for developing products, services, and experiences that align with what customers truly want.
VoC data is also a valuable source of insights for innovation. Understanding customer pain points and desires can guide the development of new products or features that address unmet needs, giving companies a competitive advantage.
Essentially, once fortified with this extensive and comprehensive data, managers can:
- Discover why feedback scores are not up to par.
- Comprehend customer desires, needs, and criticisms.
- List the above data in order of importance for improving performance.
- Fully grasp customers’ perception of the value a company’s product(s) and/or service(s) offer.
- Learn if and where the company is fulfilling its promises and areas where it fails to do so.
- Utilize all the data to inform improvements in the way products and services are created and offered to a now better-understood customer demographic.
- Solicit customer feedback to evaluate new ways of gaining a competitive advantage.
- Generate advanced marketing insights and opportunities.
Benefits of a Voice of the Customer Program
Once upon a time, businesses would ascertain customers’ wants by observing what was being purchased and, conversely, what was selling less successfully. Knowing what is popular with the buying public is of course a pathway to gaining an understanding of what works, but this is not a surgically sharp instrument for feedback, nor a timely one. It won’t reveal, for instance, what areas are specifically in need of improvement or how happy customers really are with the company’s product or service.
Truly listening to the customer and fully comprehending their entire experience provides a company’s management team with significantly more assistance and guidance. The raison d’être of VoC comes down to the following points: improving customer retention, improving the customer experience, improving brand reputation, achieving faster customer resolutions, and boosting revenue.
Improve Customer Retention
Brand reputation plays a significant role in customer loyalty, so it is important for companies to keep their reputation in good standing. Part of that process is opening a direct line of communication for customers to address their concerns and frustrations so that the company can then act on those frustrations to improve the overall experience.
When customers are satisfied with the purchasing process, they are more likely to turn to the company in the future when they need similar products or services. Voice of the customer strategies allow companies to understand what existing customers like and dislike so that they can emphasize the positives and fix problems as they arise.
Improve Customer Experience
VoC data allows organizations to identify issues that may contribute to customer dissatisfaction or churn. By addressing these issues promptly, companies can reduce customer attrition and increase customer retention rates.
Improve Customer Experience
By listening to the voice of the customer, businesses can enhance the overall customer experience. This includes improving interactions, providing better support, and tailoring services to meet customer expectations, ultimately fostering customer loyalty.
Improve Brand Reputation
Brand reputation plays a significant role in customer loyalty, so companies need to keep their reputation in good standing. With a VoC program, your team can more effectively monitor the Voice of the Customer and protect brand reputation. Positive feedback can be leveraged for marketing purposes, while negative feedback can be addressed to prevent further damage to the brand image.
Reduce Customer Complaints and Faster Resolutions
By systematically gathering customer opinions and experiences, businesses can identify issues early on, even before customers actively complain. Early detection allows for proactive problem-solving.
Moreover, VoC programs help businesses understand the severity and impact of different issues by gauging customer feedback. This allows for the prioritization of problems based on their urgency and potential impact on customer satisfaction. Addressing high-priority issues first contributes to faster resolution.
Drive Product Innovations
VoC data helps companies stay aligned with market trends and shifts. This knowledge is crucial for driving product and service innovation, adapting strategies, staying relevant, and ensuring that your offerings remain in tune with evolving customer expectations.
Boost Your Revenue
A natural consequence of expanding the customer base and retaining customers is an increase in revenue. As companies monitor customer feedback and trends, they have a clear picture of what products and services customers want and are willing to pay for, which means that the company can provide those with greater accuracy.
Discover Your Customer Experience
A Guided Exercise to Help You Understand the Current State of CX at Your Organization
So, you’ve been charged with leading a company-wide CX initiative. But where do you even start? Likely, customer experience efforts are already being made in different pockets of your organization, but it’s up to you to break down the silos and connect the dots. This worksheet will guide you through an exercise to do just that!
3 Questions to Consider Before Building a VoC Program
These three questions can guide companies’ efforts to implement an effective VoC program to improve the customer experience, retain customers, and boost revenue.
1. What Is the Goal of the VoC Program?
Without a clear goal, it is difficult to start a VoC program since the strategies used should reflect the business objective. Before companies start building a program, they should first examine potential objectives and determine which will be the most beneficial for their specific needs.
The objectives of a voice of the customer program can be divided into two main categories: benchmarking and continuous improvement.
Programs that focus on benchmarking as an objective tend to be more comparative. This means that the surveys used to gather customer feedback will use the same set of questions for every respondent, typically in a rating format, and then compare those ratings to each other to find areas for improvement. Often, the focus is on the scores themselves instead of the reason for those ratings, so companies that use this objective will get more general feedback and causality.
Continuous improvement objectives, on the other hand, can be more personalized based on certain aspects of the customer and their interaction with the company. While the accompanying surveys can include rating questions, there will also be some open-ended questions that allow respondents to clarify their reasons for the scores they gave. This method can give more detailed insight into the causes of dissatisfaction.
Companies should choose one of these objectives based on the information that they wish to gather in order to work towards certain goals. Some of the possible goals are:
- Customer research: For this, companies gather the information that helps them better understand the needs and wants of their target customers.
- Customer retention: Learning how to best keep existing customers satisfied with the products and services offered is crucial for customer retention.
- Acquiring new customers: Just as important as retaining customers is acquiring new ones. With this goal in mind, companies should learn how to increase interest in their brand to attract new customers.
- Improving brand image: This goal focuses on finding out how customers view a company’s brand and what can be done to improve that image.
- Cost reduction: Focusing on cost-effectiveness by recognizing where you can reduce spending will help you increase profitability and prove ROI.
- Increasing customer lifetime value: Customer lifetime value is the revenue earned from a single customer over time. Increasing that will cause your customers to promote your brand for you.
2. What Metrics Should Be Measured Throughout the VoC Program?
Once a company has chosen a goal to drive its VoC program, it should define which metrics will be measured to demonstrate progress and focus the efforts for more improvements. Some common metrics in a VoC program include customer experience KPIs such as Net Promoter Score, Customer Effort Score, and Customer Satisfaction Score.
When selecting metrics, consider the holistic picture they paint and how they align with your business goals. Combining quantitative metrics with qualitative insights from customer feedback ensures a comprehensive understanding of the Voice of the Customer. Regularly review and adjust your chosen metrics to stay responsive to changing customer needs and business objectives.
3. How Should the Success of the VoC Program Be Measured?
A VoC program is only effective if it drives action. To determine whether the feedback being gathered is useful, it is important to look at what has changed since the program was implemented. Measuring success is dependent on setting a clear goal and choosing specific metrics that align with that goal. Because of this, companies should consider whether the metrics being measured are improving over time. The changes made to improve the metrics should help the company work towards its main objective.
Building a Voice of the Customer Program: Best Practices
Before you jump in and begin building your Voice of the Customer program, you’ll need to earnestly attempt to see through your customers’ eyes and link their experience to your business outcomes. Here are some areas of focus and best practices to follow:
Identify Customer Touchpoints / “Listening Posts”
Customers form their impression of a product or service through multiple interactions with an organization. For instance, folks may find a business by doing an online search or via an ad. They might be introduced through blogs or site reviews, then shop on the company’s website, stop by at a brick-and-mortar retail location, and later on, get in touch with the customer service department.
A VoC program starts with mapping out the customer journey and identifying the various touchpoints that will add up to the full customer experience with the company. Keep in mind that combining insights from multiple touchpoints provides a comprehensive view of customer experiences and helps drive informed decision-making.
Collect and Connect Feedback Across Data Channels
Successful VoC programs are founded on a company’s ability to listen to customers. Don’t squander the valuable gold mine that is customer feedback. So that you have a complete view of the customer journey, be sure to monitor and capture online reviews, social media comments, survey responses, call center notes, phone calls and emails, takeaways from focus group discussions, and other touchpoints and sources of crucial Voice of the Customer data. Then collect and connect these data types so that they are analyzed within the context of the broader customer experience.
Analyze Customer Data
After gathering a sufficient amount of data, it’s time to make sense of it. Whether you’re working alone or as a part of a team, you will need to come up with a standard way to understand the Voice of the Customer.
Analytical methods like natural language processing (NLP) and sentiment analysis can help your business pin down customer sentiment data, emotions, and feelings, helping you see more clearly than ever what customers like and dislike about your brand.
Managing the influx of data from various touchpoints in the customer journey can feel overwhelming. Streamlining this information is crucial to deciphering meaningful insights. An integrated CX program serves as a valuable tool, swiftly pinpointing actionable feedback from customer input. This approach accelerates the identification of key insights that prompt immediate improvements.
By translating information into vision, you can achieve a better understanding of the needs, wants, feelings, sentiments, and expectations of your customers. The insights you gather from the Voice of the Customer data will help your entire organization more accurately measure — and more efficiently improve — customer experience.
Collaborate with Teams Across the Entire Organization
Collaboration with other teams within your organization is crucial when managing Voice of the Customer (VoC) data. This enhances the effectiveness of your efforts and ensures a more comprehensive and integrated approach to customer-centric strategies.
Cross-functional insights are also made possible with greater collaboration. After all, customer experiences often span multiple touchpoints and departments. By working with other teams, you gain insights into the end-to-end customer journey, enabling a more comprehensive analysis of customer interactions and pain points.
Take Action and Deliver Insights to the Right People
With all the data and analysis done, you’re ready to create a custom, on-brand VoC plan that spurs your team to action in ways that meet the needs of your customers. But it’s not enough to just create a plan and execute it. You’ll also need to monitor its effects regularly. Integrated CX software platforms allow you to create custom reports that inform company leadership of the effects of Voc data on a daily, weekly, or even monthly basis.
Don’t forget to share your VoC insights with key stakeholders and decision-makers. This will unite your company around the goal of meeting customer needs, and to guide and empower everyone to foster improvements in customer experience.
Monitor and Act on Customer Experience Trends
Ongoing monitoring assists in tracking a company’s progress as time goes on. Companies can get stuck debating what absolute CSAT vs NPS vs CES score they should target. What is more important is to stick to a metric, build a system that lets feedback flow in effortlessly, and watch the metric improve over time, as employees act on this valuable feedback.
Where and How to Collect VoC Data
There are multiple ways to gather or capture Voice of the Customer data. Each of these has benefits and drawbacks, which is why a company may choose to use a combination of these sources and techniques instead of a singular method of collecting data.
As you collect VoC data, it’s good practice to select the right touchpoints and consider the variety of channels that customers use to interact with your brand throughout their journey. With customer data fragmented across different systems and departments, it may be challenging to identify or prioritize opportunities for improvement without a holistic or integrated approach to managing VoC and the customer experience.
Customer Interviews and Roundtables
The traditional technique of gathering data through a customer interview has stuck around for so long because it is a direct way of gathering feedback. Interviews can be done in person, over the phone, or through email depending on the preferences and needs of a company. This technique allows companies to better understand the point of view that a customer or group of customers shares in their interaction with the company.
Online, Email, or SMS Customer Surveys
Online, email, and SMS customer surveys can include different types of questions to help your team gather meaningful insights into issues that customers face. Some of the different types of survey questions include multiple-choice questions, drop-down questions, and open-ended questions. The key is to ask the right questions at the right time to gain a better understanding of customers and their expectations at any given point in the customer journey.
A live chat feature on the website is becoming increasingly popular due to the ability to collect real-time customer feedback. Live chats can gather more than customer complaints; they can also provide companies with the opportunity to schedule a follow-up survey to learn about the customer experience on the site. Another great feature is the ability for companies to respond quickly to an issue, which reduces the risk of customers leaving the site feeling unsatisfied with the services or products.
Online Reviews and Social Media
Another way for companies to interact with customers and gather VoC data in real time is through online reviews and social media. Companies can engage in two-way communication with their client base to learn more about what customers are looking for, predict future trends, and gather feedback directly from the source.
A large part of retaining customers is a positive brand reputation, and responding to online reviews can demonstrate that a company is aware of how customers view their products or services. A good review management strategy also allows companies to learn more about the frustrations that customers face so that they can implement measures to resolve these frustrations and issues.
Along with these other techniques for collecting data, a company can analyze the behavior of customers on their website by using tools like heat maps. The company can track these behavior patterns and test potential changes to see what works and what doesn’t, all to create a smoother user experience.
Focus group discussions are a common and effective method for collecting Voice of the Customer data. Focus groups involve a small, diverse group of participants who discuss their opinions, perceptions, and experiences related to a particular product, service, or topic.
By leveraging focus groups for VoC data collection, businesses can gain valuable qualitative insights that go beyond quantitative metrics, helping them better understand the nuances of customer perceptions and preferences.
Voice of Customer: Examples of Survey Questions
The questions that a company asks as part of its VoC program will depend on the goal set at the beginning. For example, if the goal is general customer research, the company will want to ask questions that tell about the demographics of their audience, including:
- Which of the following categories best describes your age?
- Which of the following genders do you most identify with?
- What is the highest level of education you have achieved?
- How many people work at your company or organization?
On the other hand, the company should ask questions about its products and how they compare to competitors if the goal is to increase customer retention. For example:
- How does [company, brand, product, or service] compare to the competition?
- What do you like best about [company, brand, product, or service]?
- What do you want to be improved about [company, brand, product, or service]?
If the goal is to acquire new customers, companies can ask about how the audience makes decisions. A potential question is:
- What factor(s) matter most to you when selecting a company for [product or service]?
Finally, companies should ask about their brand if the goal is to improve their brand image. These questions could ask things like:
- What word or phrase comes to mind when you see or hear [company, brand, product, or service]?
- What company comes to mind first when you think of [company, brand, product, or service]?
- Where have you seen or heard information about [company or brand] in the past six months?
How InMoment Can Power Your VoC Program
Firms are no longer limited to managing VoC data from a random sample of customers; now, they can listen in to every customer and every conversation at various stages of the customer journey — not to mention, dig deeper into data on both macro and micro levels.
InMoment’s combination of award-winning technology and expert services can power your Voice of the Customer program and make it comprehensive, simple, and scalable. Experience the transformative capabilities firsthand by exploring our demo. With InMoment, you can navigate and interpret valuable Voice of the Customer data to understand where to focus and how to create the maximum impact for your customer and your business.