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The Beginner’s Guide to the Voice of the Customer

January 02, 2020

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A Voice of the Customer (VoC) program helps your business reap the benefits of listening, acting, and responding to what customers say about your brand, product, service, or business location.

With a VoC program, you can more effectively: 

  • Measure and improve customer experience 
  • Customize your products and services to respond to the voiced needs and wants of your customers 
  • Drive customer satisfaction and loyalty 
  • Prioritize high-impact customer issues, trends, and developments 
  • Solicit customer feedback to evaluate new ways of gaining a competitive advantage
  • Generate advanced marketing insights and opportunities

What Exactly is the Voice of the Customer?

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. 

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.

How to Capture the Voice of the Customer

There are multiple ways to gather or capture Voice of the Customer data. These include:

  • Focus group discussions and individual interviews
  • Field reports and ethnographic research
  • Customer feedback surveys
  • The application of text analytics and sentiment analysis methods

 

But don’t limit yourself to these above sources. Digital innovations have expanded the ways companies can listen to the Voice of the Customer. For instance, your VoC program can now leverage the power of the Internet to capture:

  • Solicited customer feedback: customer emails, online survey responses and NPS results, usability test results, etc.
  • Unsolicited customer feedback: online reviews, social media comments, etc.

 

That way, companies can listen in real time to customers across multiple touchpoints and channels, as well as provide immediate response to customer feedback.

Building Your VoC Plan: Areas of Focus

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 to follow:

Get Feedback Across 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. Monitor and capture online reviews, social media comments, survey responses, call center notes, phone calls and emails, and other forms of Voice of the Customer data.

voice of the customer

Analyze VoC 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, emotion, and feelings, helping you see more clearly than ever what customers like and dislike about your brand.

By translating information into vision, you can achieve a better understanding of the needs, wants, feelings, sentiment, 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.

Build and Execute

With all the data and analysis done, you’re ready to create a custom, on-brand VoC plan that meets 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 on a regular basis. Some software platforms allow you to create custom reports that inform company leadership of its effects 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.

Key Components of a Voice of the Customer Program

A Voice of the Customer program will provide your business with the insights you need to understand customer preferences, problems, and complaints. As you invest in your program, consider the following characteristics and features:

Comprehensiveness

Some Voice of the Customer strategies offer only customer feedback surveys, while others focus exclusively on social media listening or online review monitoring. The best VoC programs, however, capture and connect multiple kinds of customer feedback and VoC data across multiple touchpoints and channels. 

Scalability

The latest generation of VoC programs offers greater scalability and a much wider scope than that of previous generations. 

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.

Timeliness

Customers expect businesses to respond quickly to their feedback. Reviews are of particular importance: according to industry research, 45 percent of consumers say they’re more likely to visit a business that responds to negative reviews.

This is why your program should be able to deliver the Voice of the Customer — and alert you of high-impact issues — in the timeliest possible manner. That way, you become aware of the trends and patterns that define customers’ experience, so that you can take action based on what you learn. 

Insights

VoC programs are most effective when they can generate meaningful and actionable insights about your customers. While some vendors will try to impress with robust data collection technology or flashy reporting, focus on a program that empowers your entire organization to understand feedback, study customer experience analytics, and take action to improve. 

Engagement

Every team or department in your organization, from marketing and sales to customer support and product development, has a stake in the customer experience. 

With this in mind, the best VoC programs engage all areas of the business and unite everyone around the goal of listening to the Voice of the Customer and understanding the entire customer journey. 

Understand the Customer Perspective with VoC

With an effective VoC program, your company can connect with the voices that matter most: your customers. By making a strategic investment and tapping into data that came directly from customers, you can deliver better experiences and successfully achieve competitive differentiation.

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