It’s important that you recognize your customers as your best resource for how you can continue growing your business. Growth is more than just earning new customers. It’s also retaining and continually delighting the ones you already have.
The best way to keep customers happy is by listening to them. This is where the voice of the customer plays a vital role.
What Is Voice of the Customer?
Voice of the customer (VOC) is a research method that helps describe the needs and desires of a business’ customers. You can track and measure a customer’s opinion of a brand, product, or service in order to improve customer experience (CX) and meet their expectations.
VOC takes the guessing out of trying to serve your customers. Your business can benefit dramatically, seeing improvements in ways like:
- Providing exactly what your customers want.
- Personalizing your strategies, goods, and services to your customers’ desires.
- Keeping customers happy and increasing retention.
- Testing new ideas and strategies.
- Identifying potential threats and obstacles early on.
Your business suffers when you experience a high customer churn rate, but that risk can be lessened by implementing different VOC techniques into your strategies.
Voice of the Customer Methodologies
Customers appreciate any opportunity to provide their feedback to a business, whether it be praise or complaint. Even though no one hopes for the latter, any form of constructive criticism can be valuable to a business.
Here are some voice of the customer methodologies that you can explore in order to give your customers a platform to speak on.
Customer surveys taken directly on-site will give you clear insights on what your customers are thinking.
In order to get those thoughts though, you’ll have to be thorough and intentional in your questions. Otherwise, you’ll receive vague feedback that you won’t be able to convert into actionable goals.
Social Media Channels
Social media is where you’ll likely find the most feedback on your products or services. Due to the nature of word of mouth testimonials, users are always sharing their brand experiences with people they know.
You can investigate what your customers aren’t saying to your face by tapping into social media channels. In certain circumstances, it’ll likely pay off to start a direct conversation with a customer to dig further into their opinions.
On-site live chats put you right in front of the customer in real time. Most chats are used to help provide customer support, but they can also be a means to collect VOC data as well.
Set up follow-up surveys with customers that used the live chat features and learn how their experience went.
This one may seem a bit obvious, but not many websites have a form dedicated to collecting a customer’s feedback.
It should be easy to find and simple to fill out, allowing the customer the opportunity to voice their concerns or compliment your business accordingly.
You can receive straightforward, honest, impulsive feedback from a room of customers who are encouraged to speak freely.
Focus groups are an excellent way to collect a large amount of data at once, as you can segment different demographics and learn about their thoughts and beliefs, and even test new ideas.
Have you ever called a business’ help center and heard a pre-recorded voice let you know that your conversation will be recorded?
That’s not them being creepy. They know the value of listening to a customer’s needs directly from their own mouth.
Recorded calls can provide even more insight than just what a customer says. You can tune into how they say it and learn how they are actually feeling when interacting with your brand. Are they angry or satisfied? Exasperated? Listen in to find out.
This VOC method performs well when attempting to build or sustain a relationship with a customer.
Seen as a more intimate way of collecting data, you can interview a customer in person, over the phone, or through email and address a specific issue or concern. The information learned will be much more specific and easier to track than some of the other techniques.
There are a variety of tools available now that track clickthrough rates, scrolls, and heat maps, and they even record a visitor's time on your website. All of this captured data provides valuable insights on customer behavior and intent.
Once you have a better understanding of how your customers view webpages, you can optimize them to yield better results.
Sites like Yelp, Capterra, and Angie’s List give customers a platform to share their thoughts and opinions on a business in one place.
Those databases are then categorized and made easily accessible for the eyes of others. One set of those should be your own, since that’s a lot of collected data just sitting there waiting for you.
In the case of most businesses, most of your communication with a customer takes place over email. Since the conversation has already been started, this channel is an excellent means of asking a customer that you’ve already established a relationship with to answer a few questions in a survey.
You can either send a link to one of your surveys or ask for feedback in the form of a response to your email.
Net Promoter Score
All of these methodologies are a great way to collect VOC data, and optimizing them guarantees even more success.
Voice of the Customer Optimization
Knowing about voice of the customer is one thing, but actually taking action towards leveraging it is another.
You can optimize VOC by actively sharing the collected data with the rest of your business, analyzing the feedback for central themes, and then adapting and implementing new strategies that will fill any gaps presented.
Voice of the customer optimization (VOCO) is acknowledging everything that your customers have told you, and then doing something about it.
Companies with a strong VOCO strategy have found that the customers they engaged with on a consistent basis bought 90 percent more often and spent 60 percent more in each transaction. VOCO instills brand trust, which fosters brand loyalty and, in turn, breeds more brand investment.
Building Your Own Voice of the Customer Program
With a documented program in place, you can take action on the voice of the customer. You can leverage all that data to:
- Deliver insights, like product management, to different departments.
- Provide market research and competitor analysis.
- Improve your CX.
- Help you manage your reputation.
Here are a few tips to help you develop and execute a strong VOC program:
Segment Customers As You Collect Feedback.
Not every buyer persona has the same pain points, goals, and expectations as another. By segmenting your feedback, you can learn how you should customize your products, services, and strategies to cater to the full scope of your user base.
Find the Right Reporting Tools.
Whether you’re looking for transactional or relationship feedback, you should only utilize the tools that are going to best serve your business and its growth.
Collecting data that is relevant or related to your goals can be a drain on your time and resources. Be picky about your reporting tools and audit them regularly for effectiveness.
Foster a Customer-Centric Company Culture.
You won’t be able to truly practice VOC methodologies and collect valuable data if you don’t adopt a customer-centric mentality. And it can’t just be you.
The entire organization has to be onboard. Encourage a culture of valuing your customers’ insights. After all, they’re the ones keeping your business afloat.
Interview Your Employees, Too.
Your team members are interacting with your customers at various touchpoints constantly. It’s likely that they have already been collecting feedback on their own as they engage on your brand’s behalf. Some of them may even be customers themselves.
Ask for their perspective on your goods and services, any patterns they’ve noticed during customer interactions, and what they believe can be improved.
Convert Feedback Into Action.
All data is measurable, but it has no value if you don’t test out new concepts and solutions.
Develop goals centered on improving your CX and then begin crafting actionable items to achieve those goals. The only way to measure success is by taking steps toward it.
Voice of the Customer Examples
There are companies that have already seen real improvements by using voice of the customer to turn their business around. Here are some of the most noteworthy examples:
Probably the greatest success story today, Domino’s was able to completely flip their reputation by leveraging VOC. In 2009, the pizza chain was notoriously known as the “worst tasting” national chain in America.
But they weren’t willing to just roll over and give up. Through a series of focus groups and customer surveys, the company collected customer feedback on what needed to change.
From there, they got the entire team on board with improving the customer experience and gave them complete autonomy in providing quality service to their customers.
After auditing the entire CX, from placing the order all the way up to delivery, Domino’s adopted a renewed focus on metrics that would support pleasing their customers.
Today, they’ve surpassed their competitor, Pizza Hut, in size. This is a massive achievement you can tie directly to their voice of the customer optimization strategy.
Convertize didn’t have to rebuild their reputation and buyer pool the same way Domino’s did, but the software company has had to pivot in order to make sure they’re providing the best value to their users.
Offering content management services where customers can A/B test their published web content, Convertize released a persuasive notification feature. Surveys were sent to customers along with the roll out, and reviews quickly alerted them that the feature blocked content on users’ websites.
Convertize responded immediately and corrected the problem within two weeks. Their attention and investment in customer feedback allowed them to quickly solve their customers’ problem and also refine a feature at the same time.
Not every instance of VOC is used for crisis control. Zappos’ renowned prioritization of a quality customer experience led to a heartwarming interaction after a product return.
A customer called to return a pair of shoes because her mother had fallen ill. The employee that she spoke with followed up with her by sending her flowers.
The woman was shocked and touched that such a large brand would display real care and interest in her life.
Interactions similar to this one have built lifelong relationships and fiercely loyal customers for the retail company.
1-800 Contacts has a similar action plan, where they build relationships with their largely web-based clientele by giving gifts and having fun.
It started when one customer threw a joke into a feedback survey. When asked what could make their experience better, he asked them to send him a candy bar.
Now, the business has a priority to delight as many customers as possible with a bit of humor.
As a result, their NPS jumped 13 points and they increased their reorder rate. Being conscious of their customers has built them a pretty loyal fan base.
Plainview, a software company, has implemented a unique VOC methodology to improve their business and CX.
They host “Inner Circles” regularly, where customers are invited to attend focus groups and interviews to provide feedback on the company.
These “Inner Circles” provided incredibly valuable feedback, pointing out flaws in the software’s design. The obstacle was hindering a large percentage of their user base, but Plainview was able to turn around and resolve the issue.
These companies were able to turn customer feedback into actionable steps that bolstered their business and increased their customer retention.
Tuning into the voice of the customer will allow you to develop and deliver a better customer experience overall, and you may find room for improvement in your products and services as well.
Your customers have firsthand experience with your business. Let them be at the forefront of your campaign to become even more successful.