In this guide, you’ll learn almost everything you need to know about the voice of the customer, including, but not limited, to:
- What VoC means,
- Why VoC is important,
- How VoC fits in with other customer marketing concepts,
- What a Voc strategy is,
- Some common stumbling blocks,
- How you can measure the success of your VoC program, and
- Some tools/platforms for VoC.
What does Voice of the Customer mean?
Voice of the customer, also known as VoC, is a concept within customer marketing that is often elusive and trickier to pin down. There is a lot of overlap between VoC and other concepts within this sector but, in essence, VoC is the act of capturing what your customers are saying about you.
What is the objective of VoC?
The aim of VoC is to collect feedback from your customers across multiple touchpoints in the customer journey. This feedback is then put into the hands of those making decisions within your business, allowing them to make continuous improvements to your processes.
The objective of VoC is, therefore, to make your organization more customer-centric in how it approaches each and every part of the buyer's journey, and how to then market to your customers using this information.
The results of incorporating VoC into your practices will reduce customer churn, improve user experience, increase customer loyalty, and, in the long run, support sustainable growth and revenue.
Why is VoC important?
Voice of the customer strategies are most effective for mid-size and enterprise-size companies. Small and start-up businesses usually don’t have to combat the same issues VoC attempts to tackle as they have a much smaller customer pool to interact with.
For larger companies, VoC helps return to that small business feeling and avoid the very common siloing of information as more teams and departments get added.
VoC has the advantage of getting mid-size businesses ahead of the curve when it comes to growth so that research and customer feedback are not lost with this growth. VoC also supports other changes:
An opportunity for service improvement
This one is perhaps the most obvious but is no less essential to know. Voice of the customer relies on collecting customer feedback from all the touchpoints along the customer lifecycle and then implementing this feedback to improve the customer journey.
Feedback is no use if you don’t take it in, analyze it, and then take action. You’ll be gathering and storing data for nothing.
VoC strategies give you the opportunity to build on and improve your current services using the advice of those who use it the most, so whatever plans you put in place address the pain points your customers have. Increasing customer satisfaction will not only satisfy your existing customers but also entice new customers.
All of this goes a long way to improving the community surrounding your business:
An opportunity for product development
In the same vein as service improvement, customers can also tell you a lot about your product, and give you an insight into which features are most desirable and even ones which are missing. Your products must have a good user experience, otherwise, no one will use your product.
Another point is that this information provided by your customers can also give you an insight into your competitors. If a customer mentions that “this company has this feature, but yours doesn’t” or “I prefer the product from this company because…”, listen to this!
If a company is delivering features and products that are of interest to your target audience, then think about how you can implement them into your own product and how you can one-up your competition. Customers are invaluable resources for competitive intelligence, so don’t let this part go unnoticed.
Perhaps you already have these features in place but your current marketing copy isn’t highlighting these to the customers that are interested in them. Aunalisa Arellano goes in depth on CMA’s podcast, Customer Marketing Catch-up, how to effectively communicate these features to your audience.
An opportunity for marketing efficiency
Collecting feedback gives you an insight into what your customer’s priorities are for your product, but also showcases what your current customer base looks like.
This can give you insights into the demographics that your product is specifically targeting, be it age, location, income, gender, etc. Gathering this information is invaluable to make sure your current marketing techniques are targeting the right people.
The type of people that respond to your VoC strategy is the people you’ll want to be targeting, both in existing customers and potential customers too. This may involve you reevaluating and adjusting your idea of who your ideal buyer and user personas are, and it can go a long way to making your efforts more effective.
An opportunity to perfect your brand story
How you present your brand to your audience is important, not just in the way you meet their needs, but also in how your values align with their own. Creating a story for your brand is a great way to show how your brand prioritizes your target audience, and how your value proposition aligns with their needs and values.
Getting insight into how customers experience your brand is a good starting point for how your brand is perceived. VoC data can tell you which parts of your current storytelling are working, and which parts you might want to change.
Here are some examples of brand storytelling being shown through advertising:
How does VoC fit in with other customer marketing concepts?
VoC as a strategy on its own works well in combination with other processes and can help support your team's other initiatives.
Customer relationship marketing - Relationship marketing combines quality customer service and marketing. The aim is to build a strong and long-lasting relationship with your customers.
To make this kind of marketing work, you have to know your customer, which is where the feedback from the VoC strategy can come in.
Customer lifecycle marketing - VoC strategies aim to collect data from customers at all stages of the customer journey. Lifecycle marketing prioritizes personalization in both marketing and communication in order to convert the customer to the next stage in the lifecycle.
VoC can help you understand how your product, brand story, and services can be improved to meet these customers’ expectations and get them one stage closer to customer loyalty.
Customer reactivation marketing - Reactivation marketing targets customers who have lapsed or churned, and aims to get them to return to the fold. It also works to prevent that customer churn from happening again.
By embedding the voice of the customer into your marketing and using the feedback collected to make service improvements, you can help prevent this same customer churn. Showing your customers that you not only listen to your customer's comments but take action based on them goes a long way to show how much you value them.
Customer experience strategy - An experience strategy is more specialized as it focuses on collecting data surrounding your customer’s thoughts after interacting with your services. They cover the touchpoints along a customer journey.
VoC also relies on collecting data from these stages but will work through the customer's overall thoughts on the brand rather than specifically their experience of interacting with your brand. Nonetheless, VoC supports this kind of data too.
All of these rely on a deep understanding of consumer psychology. Learn how to tap into Consumer Psychology to reap the rewards of understanding behavioral economics with our Masters Certification.
What is a VoC strategy?
A VoC strategy is a process to get the voice of the customer implemented within your other marketing processes. There are six main stages of this strategy:
Define your goals - Like any other program, Voice of the Customer programs won’t be successful unless there’s a clear goal set out from the beginning. So, make sure you and your team know why you want to implement VoC and what your ideal results will be at the end of the program.
Set contact types - When asking customers for feedback, don’t just set up a single survey and be done with it. Make sure the way you collect customer feedback, and the channels you use to contact your customers are varied. Getting a mix of quantitative and qualitative feedback will give you a much more accurate view of the current landscape of your customer experiences.
Gathering feedback - Now is the time to begin data collection. You can do this in a number of ways, including through customer surveys, focus groups, and customer interviews. The priority is to make sure the data you collect covers as wide a section of your customer base as possible.
Analyze feedback - The next stage is to analyze and apply this information to your current internal processes and strategies. Without this stage, your strategy will be for nothing.
Make sure you’re taking in all of the feedback and then prioritizing the most vital and most doable points. It’ll be noticeable if you immediately try to fix a customer’s needs without considering the best way to do it first.
Quality over quantity always.
Act - Use your analysis from the last point to feed in changes to your internal processes, but also your product and services.
Evaluate action - Measure how these changes impact customer experience and efficiency internally. Setting a reminder to look back on the changes you made will make sure any unsuccessful changes don’t get lost, and will also reassure you and your team that the successful actions implemented still work.
Review strategy - The final point, once you’ve finished the duration of the strategy, is to then review it as a whole. What stages went smoothly? Which did not? How can you change your strategy to make things more successful next time?
Karim Zuhuri goes through an example of how a VoC strategy was implemented at SafetyCulture:
We also have a blank ‘Voice of the Customer Strategy’ framework available with our pro membership plan:
VoC best practices
Evaluate the whole customer journey
The worst thing to do is to present a VoC strategy that doesn’t represent your whole customer base. Neglecting or forgetting a segment of customers while representing the others is almost worse than no strategy at all.
To avoid this, make sure you know your customer base inside out, specifically where they are in the customer journey. Understand the sentiment of customers at each stage of the journey and make sure they’re represented.
Use multiple channels
There are multiple ways to collect feedback from your customers, just as there are multiple ways in which customers can speak to you. Beyond a simple survey or Q and A, there are also indirect ways in which customers can express their thoughts about your brand.
Things like forums, social media, and review sites can give you indirect feedback, and offer you insights customers might not disclose if you ask them directly. Combining both indirect and direct feedback while using multiple channels means that you can get as much feedback from as much of your customer base as possible.
When making requests for VoC feedback, quotes, case studies, wherever format it is, it’s important to make things personal to the person you’re reaching out to. Get invested in each customer's experience with your brand, and make a note of the unique experiences they’ve had or the products they’ve brought.
Making a note of these, and making them a part of your VoC strategy shows customers that you’re invested in them for more than just making a sale. Make sure they feel the relationship with your brand is reciprocal, and that they see you more as a partner in the experience, rather than a faceless corporation.
Apply it to other data
Feedback from VoC works to not only improve customer marketing practices, but your strategy could hold the answers and solutions to other teams' problems as well. Collaborate with your sales, marketing, and customer success teams and provide them with access to the data you’ve collected. And vice versa.
Other teams may help you realize some of the sources of customer issues. Cross-departmental collaboration with the rest of the business can go a long way to improving your business as a whole, not just your customer marketing strategies. And your VoC strategy goes further, proving it’s important to your key stakeholders.
Common VoC mistakes
Collecting feedback might seem like the simple task of putting together a survey and then distributing it out in the market. But a lot can go wrong with a survey that can turn your customers off wanting to help you.
1) Poor survey design
When collecting feedback, you want to take up as little of your customer’s time as possible. If your survey is long or complicated, customers will most likely drop out of the survey instead of finishing it and you won’t get the data you need for your strategy to be effective.
Your survey should cover the important features and touchpoints that need improving the most, and the larger your data pool, the more valid the results will be.
2) Failing to keep the survey focused on the experience
Trying to kill two birds with one stone doesn't work when your strategy relies on specific information, especially when it revolves around your customer experience with your brand. The way you collect your feedback should reflect your desire to improve the customer experience.
If you use surveys to collect feedback for other areas of the business, or worse yet, to try to promote your products or services within the survey, you’re essentially telling your customers that “your experience with our brand is not our top priority”.
You’re already setting yourself up for failure because no customer wants to support a brand that doesn’t also support them in return.
3) Knowing why you’re asking the question
Make sure the purpose behind each question is clearly defined. Know which stage in the customer journey you’re talking about and which teams need the answer to this question, and keep the question itself simple so that your customers also know what you’re asking.
Remember to be realistic about what you can solve (this comes down to proper preparation in the ‘Define your goals’ section). Asking about things you can’t change means the data you collect is useless. This may also lead to customers being unsatisfied with your responses and may make things worse for you rather than better.
Remember to also decide on how you will measure your success in completing this goal by choosing appropriate metrics and targets for you and your team to work toward.
How can you measure VoC success?
Though the greatest evidence for your success with your VoC strategy is what your customers have to say about your improvements, there are also a few quantitative metrics that you can use to measure your success as hard evidence to present to key stakeholders.
Net Promoter Score (NPS)
This score is the likelihood the participant will recommend your brand to someone. This is easily measured as a simple survey question with a scale of one to ten and can be a part of a longer survey, or used as a pop-up on your website.
The NPS score has three categories for responses:
- Detractors - Answers from one to six
- Passives - Those that answer from seven to eight
- Promoters - Those that answered nine and ten
The NPS score is then calculated by taking away the percentage of promoters from detractors.
Customer Lifetime Value (CLV)
The Customer Lifetime Value is a measurement of how valuable a customer is, not just on a purchase-by-purchase basis, but throughout the whole relationship with you.
Simply put, the CLV formula is as follows:
Finding customer value
To get there, you’ll need to find the customer value and average customer lifespan first, which will take a few more calculations. First, let’s dive into finding customer value. You’ll need:
Average purchase value
Average purchase frequency rate
Customer value is found by multiplying the results of these two together. So your calculation will look something like this:
Finding average customer lifespan
To complete the formula for CLV, we need to find the average customer lifespan for your customer base, which consists of two different pieces of data. And by customer lifespan, we’re referring to the number of years the customer will stay at your company.
- Sum of customer lifespans
- No. of customers
You’ll divide these two pieces of data together to get a calculation that looks like this:
There are tricks and processes you can use to lengthen the lifespan of your customers. To learn more, check out the article below for an in-depth look at lifecycle marketing.
Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT)
Much like NPS, the Customer Satisfaction Score is presented as a percentage to represent the number of positive reviews about you and your services. This is also recorded on a numbered scale - it can be from 1-10, 1-5, or any other number range.
For this calculation, you’ll need:
- The number of responses
- The number of positive responses within that number
Your formula will look like this:
For start-up companies, keeping up to date with all that’s going on with your customers is relatively simple. But when your customer base starts expanding, and your company grows with it, keeping up suddenly becomes a lot more difficult.
We’ve put together a small list of tools that can help translate, automate, and collect the feedback data from your customers, so you can focus on the more important stage of analyzing and implementing it into your strategy, without compromising growth.
As with all platforms, these come with their own list of pros and cons and will suit different needs, so choose carefully and consider your specific goals for your VoC programs.
Medallia is a platform that collects customer experience feedback, both direct and indirect, and then translates it into real-time insights. It can be used across multiple platforms and its auto-generated reports can give you a great starting point for your strategy.
- Word cloud engine
- Can track customer complaints
- Can have inconsistencies in word cloud results
In a similar vein, InMoment gathers customer feedback and creates reports on this data. Like Medalia, it’s a cloud-based platform that also hosts solutions regarding market experience and employee experience.
- Prioritizes holistic customer relationship management
- Comes with customer journey maps to identify touchpoints
- Limited in customizable options
- Does not offer survey templates
ConfirmIt is a source to create surveys and questionnaires. It also uses five different stages to analyze the customer voice, beginning with identifying your business needs and issues and ending with helping you act on the results.
- Flexible integrations
- Most feedback types are customizable
- Limited survey types
- A small variety of beginning templates
MonkeyLearn is a tool that can be integrated into other apps, offering a no-data text analysis. The platform can help you tag certain words/sentiments and then collate this qualitative data into simple analysis charts.
- There is a free option available for this platform
- Is easy to use with little to no learning curve
- There are limited integrations
- There are only a small number of templates available
Continue your learning with CMA courses
Now that we've given a wide variety of the basics of VoC as it relates to customer marketing, and if you’re interested in learning more, then our Customer Marketing Core course offers a comprehensive learning environment. You can delve right into:
👩🏼🏫 12 modules
📙 40+ chapters
⏰ 10+ hours
🔖 Official certification
🔥 6 fireside chats
👨🏼💻 100% self-paced
Want to get your whole team leveled up? We offer both individual and team rates.