What is Voice of the Customer (VoC)?
Voice of the Customer (Voc) data is a research strategy used to discover what customers think or feel about their business, product, or service. It’s a broad term describing all customer communications with a brand that provide insights about their opinions and help to better understand the opinions, language used, and expectations needed to make better decisions in business.
To learn more about Voice of the Customer (VoC) research and how it can help you better understand your customers and the solutions they expect, we’ll explore what VoC is, how it impacts business growth, and ways to ensure the success and scalability of your program.
The Importance of Voice of the Customer in Business Decision Making
While direct feedback from customers plays a critical role in helping CX leaders make informed decisions, most brands today are challenged with data overload and fail to effectively identify customer behaviour trends and patterns. As a result, decision-makers don't have meaningful insights that lead to action—leaving a staggering 82% of customers having to seek alternative solutions due to poor experiences and unmet needs.
Brands that want to get customer CX right and drive customer satisfaction, and retention rates must focus on closing the feedback loop and leveraging their VoC technology to keep a close pulse on their customers' rapidly changing needs and wants. By gaining visibility into all activities, touchpoints, and feedback, companies are able to gain a more holistic view of the ongoing journey to then quickly craft strategic business solutions with their customers, not for them.
By better understanding your customer perspectives, you can discover actionable insights about your customer preferences and increase customer retention in the process.
Brands must pay attention to what their customers are saying to know exactly what they truly want and need. So how do you do that and what types of data can you collect?
Voice of the Customer Data
Voice of the Customer data can be almost anything that you collect through interactions with your customers. Today's companies have countless interactions with their audience on multiple levels, and each of these interactions is an opportunity to discover new insights about how to correct a poor customer experience, reduce the number of negative reviews, or ask a follow-up question that adds more context to how your customers feel.
Examples of Voice of the Customer Data
Some examples of Voice of the Customer data opportunities include live chat on your site, social media interactions, website behavior, reviews of your products or company, as well as customer surveys or interviews.
A vital quality of an effective VoC program is having a wide variety of data types which allows you to dig deeper into the thought process of your audience and discover the unique voice that they use to communicate their frustrations and needs.
Why is Voice of the Customer Important?
Now more than ever before, you have to truly listen to what your customers are saying and provide relevant insights to the stakeholders that need it most so customer truths can be actioned quickly. Implementing strategies to continually collect and analyze Voice of the Customer (VoC) data is an integral part of this process.
But how exactly can you use your VoC program to improve business performance and successfully achieve company-wide customer-centricity?
How to Use Voice of the Customer to Benefit Your Business
Step 1. Gain Direction on Your CX Priorities
As a business competing in today’s ever-changing CX landscape, you need to continually reevaluate whether the course you are currently taking aligns with your customers' voice and the priorities of your most important stakeholders. And while there are many ways to achieve your goals, you need continuous feedback—and a robust VoC program—to reveal what you’re lacking as an organization and what your next steps should focus on to meet customers where they are. .
By leveraging Voice of the Customer data, you’re able to quickly adapt to the changes of the market and confidently invest in solutions your customers will actually value without having to just guess the “Why” behind their purchase decisions.
Using both unstructured customer feedback and solicited feedback such as surveys and interviews, experience leaders and their teams can easily tap into customer interactions across all touchpoints to capture a complete picture of the customer's journey and how their demands are shifting. As companies today face the post-pandemic storm and navigate the “new normal”,, VoC acts as a powerful tool to validate strategic decisions, mitigate risks and stay ahead of trends.
Whether you’re trying to discover key features of your product that aren’t performing as they should or, you’re trying to develop brand and promotional messaging that resonates with your customers, VoC programs yield the insights to do this proactively.
These customer insights will make your team's efforts much more focused, enabling customer service, development, marketing, and other cross-functional teams to know what the next best step should be and how they can turn customer truths into action.
Improve Customer Experiences
Another key benefit of a successful customer experience program that utilizes Voice of the Customer data is delivering better service and experiences to your audience. Driving customer satisfaction with the products and services you provide requires an integrated effort that infuses your customers' voice , and their ongoing feedback. The most successful CX programs are those built with customers at the centre of every decision-making process.
An excellent customer service process is one of the integral business objectives you should strive for, as proven by a vast array of data that shows a direct link between customer support and business success. A staggering 96% of customers say that customer service is a key factor in their loyalty to a brand. And happy customers are also much more likely to share their positive experiences with a brand with friends and family.
When you engage with your customers and analyze those interactions, you can discover some of the more common pain points your customers face. You can then start building an effective action plan with your customers and employees, to resolve those issues through product development, helpful resources, and better customer onboarding practices.
Ultimately, being able to validate and invalidate new business solutions, and quickly identifying poor customer experiences can help you avoid the risk of receiving negative online reviews and losing your customers to a close competitor. By adapting and growing with your customers, you’re able to drive positive reviews for your brand while boosting customer loyalty and advocacy.
Increase Marketing Effectiveness
Planning for a successful campaign or CX initiative requires clear direction and budget allocation that aligns with your company's target objectives and priorities—and using the marketing channels available to you in an efficient, intentional, and strategic way will be key to ensuring you win greater buy-in from leaders in your organization and deliver a favourable Return on Investment (ROI) with your efforts.
That's where VoC comes in.
By utilizing Voice of the Customer data, you gain invaluable insights into what your customers prefer, what they think and feel about your business, and what interactions led them to make a buying decision.
More importantly, Voice of the Customer data helps you better understand what communication approach best resonates with your target audience. Your research can uncover specific terms and phrases they use to describe your products and how they feel about their experience. Leveraging these insights, you’ll be able to craft more targeted messaging that is not only relevant to your customers but will help bring the voice of your brand to life, allowing you to further attract prospective buyers and instantly show them that you understand their challenges better than anyone else.
How to Collect VoC Data
Now that you have a better understanding of what VoC is and how it can drive better business decision-making, the next question you need to answer is—how can you start capturing the insights you need and which channels prove to be the most relevant for your audience?. The good news is, there are several techniques to collect this data, many of which your company may already have at its disposal.
Take a look at some of the options explored below.
1. Customer Interviews
A more traditional approach to capturing VoC data is customer interviews. Scheduling an interview—in person or using a video conferencing tool— might prove to be one of the most effective and cost-efficient ways of capturing authentic and deep insights.
Not only are you able to hear directly from the customers you serve, you’re also able to direct the flow of the interview with customized questions that dig deeper into customer sentiments and product features that are most important to them at that moment in time. Meeting with a familiar sales rep during the interview may also put the customer at ease giving them a safe and open space to share their feedback.
For instance, If you have a new product launch and want to learn what your customers think, you could get direct feedback from the people who just bought it, interviewing satisfied customers and seeing how they feel. You may find that even if a person is satisfied, they have critical insights about what you might need to improve and how that could make your product even better.
You can organize interviews in person, over the phone, or through video chat, but the live element of talking to the person one-on-one is hard to match in terms of the Voice of the Customer data you can collect.
Another useful way to collect direct feedback from customers is by using surveys. They're probably the most popular method for collecting Voice of the Customer data because surveys are relatively easy to put together, are affordable, and can give you data from thousands of customers.
When planning a survey, it's essential to use the VoC survey best practices and consider your goals before getting started. For a survey to deliver useful Voice of the Customer data, you must figure out precisely what you want to achieve so that the survey questions can be designed around it.
Another critical aspect of a successful survey is having a variety of different types of questions. For instance, it's a good idea to have both qualitative and quantitative questions, as both can give you different types of insights on the same question or problem.
It's also essential to try and design the question in a way that is neutral and in no way guided. You want your customers not to be influenced by the phrasing, so be careful about structuring the questions to get the most relevant and accurate answers.
3. Support Interactions
Your support team probably has thousands of interactions with customers. And each of these interactions is a unique opportunity to gain insights into how your audience feels, what they care about, and what problems and frustrations they are facing.
While you can't design these interactions like surveys or interviews, they come with their own set of benefits, as the customers are more likely to touch on points and issues you might not have even considered otherwise.
When looking at support interactions, try to include various customer types. Look at those who have issues and are unhappy, but also see some of the positive interactions and what made the customers feel good about working with you.
4. Social Media
There’s no denying that most brands today have some social media presence where they can actively engage with customers. Capturing direct feedback is critical for business success but monitoring your customers online behaviour and how they interact with like minded individuals is just as necessary. While this approach is comparatively more informal than those discussed above, the conversations users have about your product or service through comments, story shares or posts can give you a wealth of information that draws a clearer picture of your target persona and their habits.
These types of communications can be very valuable because they provide you not just with the Voice of the Customer data itself but also a bit more context about who the person is. But you must tread carefully when engaging your audience on social media if you don’t want to put them off.
For one thing, be mindful about how you encourage social media interaction, as you don’t want to appear pushy or intrusive. At the same time, consider the way that your audience talk on social media and try to create a brand voice and image that matches up with their interactions, which is a crucial part of staying authentic and not alienating your customers.
You should also make sure to set up alerts on social media platforms to know when your brand is mentioned. Sometimes, seeing opinions about your brand can offer eye-opening insights about how you are perceived and what you might need to address, and how quickly you need to address it.
Voice of the Customer Bottom Line
To drive long-term business success, you need a loyal base of customers who are committed to using your products and feel as though their voices—and direct feedback—are truly valued. Voice of the Customer (VoC) data is key to helping you better understand your customers’ needs and their complex decision-making process so you can implement these findings, make improvements and demonstrate the value of your efforts across the organization.
To learn more about how changemakers in your organization can deliver extraordinary experiences for every audience by leveraging the Voice of the Customer (VoC), catch the on-demand recording of How to Get Agile Customer Insights to Decision Makers and don't miss out on other helpful resources about transforming your CX today!