Keeping up with customers in today's era isn’t easy. However, familiarizing yourself with Voice of the Customer (VoC), what it is and how you can invest in a program to implement it, can help you identify and fulfill customer needs.
In this article we cover:
What is VoC?
VoC is an acronym for Voice of the Customer. It captures what customers are saying about the product or services. The term describes customer feedback about your services and a VoC program can help capture these customer problems, and can help you enhance your standard of service and improve customer retention.
Marketing is no longer a game of who can scream the loudest; voice of the customer encourages companies to approach marketing by implementing a form of two-way communication in which the consumer’s perspective is essential.
Good customer experience is the key differentiator between you and your competitors. Customer needs, wants, and preferences should be at the heart of each act you take, and developing the voice of the customer presents a huge opportunity to drive sales and increase customer loyalty.
Benefits of voice of the customer in marketing
Improves your services
VoC can help you establish what changes you need to make to fully-optimize your user experience, whether this be in-person, or online.
Always listen to your customers when they provide you with feedback. They know exactly what they want out of their experience, and can help you deliver what they need, whilst offering exemplary customer service.
Remember, the general rule of thumb indicates that the simpler things are for the customer to get what they need, the better that service is going to become. Basing these changes off what customers actually say will go a long way to improving customer satisfaction.
Gives you information to act on
Customers experience each stage of the customer journey with your brand. Unlike many customer- focused departments that usually only specialize in one particular stage, customers get to see the whole picture.
Providing a direct line of communication, one that is monitored and well cared for, allows you to find information about every stage in the buying process. Keeping this channel open will also help you establish and maintain a good brand reputation.
Offering customers a place where their complaints will be listened to and acted upon reduces the likelihood of them going to friends, or even worse, telling thousands of users on social media about their mediocre experience.
Streamlines your marketing efforts
The competitive nature of marketing means that it’s vital to know who you should be targeting. Against the barrage of other advertisements, you don’t want all your efforts to end up wasted because your product messaging targeted the wrong personas.
Furthermore once you’ve identified your niche customer base, if you keep them happy, then a lot of your marketing can be done by them via customer advocacy programs.
If you want a more in depth discussion, we wrote an article on How to incorporate the voice of the customer into your marketing strategy, which goes through some of the specific ways you can make your marketing more efficient.
How to create a Voice of the Customer program
Closed-loop marketing is a form of marketing analysis that relies on data and insights to improve ROI, similar to data-driven marketing. The “closed-loop” part of the name describes how sales and marketing teams work together to report on leads in an endless feedback loop.
Before you begin
Make sure you’ve a good foundation on which to build. This responsibility sits with the head of the project.
Make sure you’ve got strong leadership foundations in place. Keeping the people working on this project engaged is vital when you’re sourcing customer and market feedback. Having a strong leader can also ensure people in other departments are pulling their weight and making a contribution, and similarly, receiving the support they need from customer marketing.
Speaking of other departments, collaboration is key. A good collaborative relationship is important, not only for the success of the program, but also for its long-term survival. Make sure each member of this project understands each other, and has a positive experience. There’s nothing worse than being excited to start a new program, only for it to lose momentum because people aren’t supporting each other.
Listening to each other is key to alignment and efficiency. Listening to the customers can bring to light a whole load of new things you may never have considered. Keeping everyone in alignment can ensure that each action point happens when it should.
Also, don’t take employee feedback for granted. Team members are the best people to identify patterns in customer responses.
Lastly, have patience! When it comes to making changes, it’s going to take time to get used to the new way of doing things. With practice, each step of the program will get easier, until your whole team is implementing it with their eyes closed.
Building a program
Creating a VoC program is deceptively simple, with only three key stages for you to implement. While the details of this become much more nuanced, it begins with these steps:
- Collect your data. This stage is just about collecting the information you need to begin implementing VoC into all facets of your business.
The big thing to understand from this step is that you must be willing to make changes - some big, some small- in order for this program to work.
If you get a load of information you don’t like the sound of implementing, then you’re already a step behind.
Remember, VoC is about making changes to best suit your customers, not you. So pull up your breeches and get to work!
- Analyze your data. Once you’ve collected your data, now’s the time to go through it. This can be a time consuming task but it's an important one to do.
Going through this data can uncover patterns and trends. These may be easier or harder to tackle, so analyzing the data can help you make a decision on which ones to prioritize first so you’re not making changes that go unnoticed by the audience you’re doing it for.
- Act on the results. This step does what it says on the tin. From your data collection and analysis, you understand what the problems are and which ones are most important.
Maybe it's an issue with your onboarding, the way you process payments, or how easy or difficult your user interface is to navigate. Either way,these issues will be unique to you and your company, so go and talk to the people who can solve these issues and get a plan in place.
Voice of the Customer program examples
It's Important to know how you’re going to gather the data you’ll use for your program. And there are a whole bunch of ways to do it, even more so when you begin to consider whether you need to collect quantitivate or qualitative data.
This is feedback that comes in the form of solid numbers. This type of data shows you the broad strokes of the community. You can see overall trends in how your customers are feeling. This is a good way to find the biggest issues to address first.
Understanding what your customers do when they’re on your website is important to know. The data that’s collected from your built-in website tools can show you things like the level of click through, the number of page views, how long a customer stays on your site, and purchase amounts.
This type of data is useful because you can collect it all year round. Unlike surveys or focus groups, you aren’t dependent on collecting data within a certain time frame. Keeping this data ticking over is useful to know if there are any patterns in behavior.
Quantitative data is most useful when you link it to qualitative feedback. This data can identify a dip in activity, but can’t usually tell you why. Which is where talking to your customers comes in as a useful tool to answer that question.
Customer surveys can often be your most direct way into VoC. They’re relatively simple to make once you know the topic you want to learn about, they can easily be input into websites and apps, and data can be collected relatively easily.
Customer surveys are among the most useful types of data collection because of how varied they can be. You can specialize them to the type of data you want to collect. You can collect solely quantitative data by using multiple choice or yes/no questions. You can make it solely qualitative by using answer boxes for customers to write their thoughts in.
Or, better yet, you can do a mix of both!
Qualitative feedback is non-numerical. This feedback does not aim to have a fixed set of answers in mind. This data is gathered through interviews, focus groups, and surveys. This type of feedback is open to all kinds of answers.
Here is where you can get into the nitty gritty of all things customer related. The aim is to speak in depth to a smaller group of people. You may have a lower number of answers, but this data is incredibly useful for getting a deeper understanding of the issues at hand.
Interviews and focus groups
Interviews and focus groups may be similar to surveys, but are so much more flexible with where you take the questions. You can ask follow-up questions in real time, and give customers a ton more time to talk about the issues they really care about.
It’s a really good way to get a bulk load of information about how someone experiences your brand throughout the whole of the customer journey.
Focus groups can give you a chance to ask questions to a number of people, and also look in on how your customers talk as a peer group.
If a customer is having a negative experience at one point in your funnel, but doesn't think it's relevant to anything else, listening to peers identify that same issue as well can help motivate them to talk about it more, and what they’d like to see to fix it. That way, the issue doesn’t fester and grow leading to a churned customer.
Email, live chat, customer support
These are all good ways of connecting to your customer. Live chats and customer support are specifically designed to support your customer at the moment. Getting information and feedback as the customer in actively using your sight can be the best way to find the immediate reaction to the issue.
Supporting the issue in real time can also go a long way to showing the customer how important them having a positive experience is for you. It can build the trust of customers knowing that you’re there to help them, which in turn can foster a positive voice for you to then integrate into your Voice of customer program.
Understand your audience
When it comes to marketing using the Voice of the Customer, the first step in creating such a program is collecting feedback and aggregating it across the channels where customers are giving it.
Read our article to discover:
🚦 The types of feedback categories,
🧠 The differences between transactional and in-depth feedback,
📝 How to determine if you’ve enough feedback for your process, and
📣 How you can go about collecting additional feedback.