What is the difference between successful and unsuccessful businesses?
A successful business uses a Voice of the Customer (VoC) analytics program to understand its customers. Firstly, they pay close attention to what their customers are saying. Second, they understand that business metrics like churn and revenue tell only a part of the story. Finally, a successful business understands that to know why customers make certain decisions, it is critical to understand the customer's perspective. This is known as the voice of the customer.
Definition of Voice of the Customer
The Voice of the Customer (VoC) is a term that describes your customer's feedback about their experiences and expectations for your services or products. It focuses on the customer needs, understanding their expectations, and product improvement.
The bottom line is, in today's world of educated customers and fast advancing technology, it is important to know what your customer wants and needs from you. This will ensure you get more repeat business from your customer and the name of your brand spreads through word of mouth, increases brand awareness and your brand gains a good reputation.
Customer-perceived value is directly correlated to higher retention and more sales. That's why it's important to know:
- What your customers are looking for
- What you can do to help your customers
- Why your customers need you.
- What their interests and behavioral patterns are.
You can find all of this out by creating a solid Voice of the Customer (also called VoC or Voice of Customer) program. VoC programs have gained a lot of traction over the years and are fast-growing segments of a core business strategy for organizations.
What is The Voice of the Customer?
Voice of the Customer or VoC is a research program or method that is used to collect feedback from your customers. The VoC method can help you to understand and capture how your customers feel about your product, business or service. Hence, giving you insights that can help you create a stronger customer experience.
Businesses study the VoC to visualize the gap between customer expectations and their actual experience with the business. The VoC is imperative for business functions like operations, customer success, and product development. These groups use this research to identify and improve all the stages of the customer's journey by working together to enhance their services and products. VoC helps to increase customer retention and create an army of customer advocates.
To create a VoC strategy, you need:
- An objective and overarching question
- A tool to collect VoC data, like a dedicated customer feedback software or a survey provider
- VoC feedback and correct data
- Team to analyze data and identify customer patterns
How Voice of the Customer Impacts Your Business?
By capturing VoC, you can engage and connect with your customers at each touch-point of the customer journey and improve their experiences with your company. This technique helps you:
- Spot early warning and potential brand crisis
- Evaluate new ideas, concepts, and solutions
- Customize your products, services, products add-ons, and features per the needs and wants of your customers
- Increase your customer retention and loyalty
- Serve your customers as per what they really need
What are the Various Voice of the Customer Techniques?
The value of retaining existing customers over acquiring a new customer is well known. It costs organizations five times more to attract a new customer than it does to retain an existing one.
Understanding your customers and building a strong customer relationship is a methodic and insightful process. However, there are specific techniques that you can follow to get reliable answers. In addition, companies often use a mixture of different methods to ensure they are getting the most from their research.
Let us look at some of the Voice of the Customer methodologies you can use to collect data:
Customer interviews are a traditional technique used to collect VoC data. It is used to understand the customer's point of view regarding service and product attributes, issues, and performance measures.
You can choose to perform interviews for either a particular customer or for a group of customers with some common attributes. This is usually executed through an email or in-person on the phone.
While the cost of an in-person interview is the highest among all interview forms, it is still considered the most helpful form of building trusting customer relationships. This is because customers perceive this type of interaction is more personal.
Online Customer Surveys
Another way to capture VoC is by conducting an online customer survey. These surveys help you in understanding your customers and addressing the problems they are facing.
If you don't ask the right questions, you may never get reliable answers. This is why you need to put in a lot of thought while designing your surveys.
Having a live chat option on your website is an excellent method of collecting real-time customer feedback. It also reduces the possibility of your customers feeling unsatisfied.
The use of live chat is not limited to listening to just your customer's complaints and resolving them. It is also an excellent tool to capture Voice of the Customer data.
Social media is a potent ingredient of feedback as it provides you the opportunity to have two-way communication with your customers.
On any of the social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn, you can tap into relevant conversations, connect with those customers by actively participating or quietly listening. The core strength of social media is that it allows you to have a real-time conversation with the people using your services or products. A good way to gather feedback is to look for trends and create stories.
Your website clicks, and visitor behavior is a great place for you to capture Voice of Customer data. Besides online surveys and chats, another way to collect data is by analyzing your customer behavior on the website. You can do it by using tools like scrolls, heat maps, and visitor recordings.
Recorded Call Data
Recorded calls with your customers can give you a broad overview of how they perceive your brand. You can understand what sort of problems and objections they have and what else they expect from the company.
Though this technique requires a lot of time, it is advisable to do this every now and then. It helps you train your customer support team to handle objections better, thereby enhancing your customer service.
Online Customer Reviews
Your online reputation is not just the result of what you generate at your end. It is all the instances in which your business appears online, including online reviews. It is essential to understand the impact they have on your business and how you can use reviews to earn your online reputation. Almost all visitors hesitate to purchase from a business that has negative online reviews.
Opting for an in-person survey is another method to capture the Voice of the Customer. Though this may not be a popular method for large business setups, it leverages many medium-sized businesses when conducting customer research. It can be done using a tool as simple as Google Docs.
Net Promoter Score
Net Promoter Score is a management tool that is used to measure the loyalty of a company's customers. NPS gives you quick and reliable feedback from customers. The way the system works is easy.
A Focus group is when a group of ten to twelve customers meets in a room, where they are asked to share their beliefs, perceptions, and opinions about your product or service. The group participants are free to talk with one another openly.
Using focus data collection method is used to gain insights into a customer's prioritization of needs or test concepts and get feedback. Focus groups can be used in addition to surveys and interviews as a step to investigate and understand the Voice of the Customer for each of the company's touchpoints.
This method can be as formal or informal as you want it to be. For example, you can send highly personalized emails to particular customers using email marketing software or create a template that can be used for the entire target. In addition, you have the option to either ask for feedback as a response to your email or by adding a link in the email body to one of your surveys.
Dedicated Feedback Form
The last option is to have a dedicated feedback form on your website, and this is more of a mandate than an option. However, no matter which other methods you plan to choose to capture using the VoC, you cannot skip having an online feedback form.
Allow your existing customers and website visitors to share their feedback at any point in time. Please don't make them wait unless you feel that there is a need to capture their voice. Another detail to note here is that most of these techniques will help your team derive qualitative information from your customers. That means you will need to ask thought-provoking questions that motivate participants to provide insightful answers. Keep in mind that it is not the customer's responsibility to provide you with any feedback, let alone productive feedback.
What are the Questions to ask in Voice of the Customer?
If you are not getting the results you are hoping for from your VoC techniques; then you may need to relook at the questions that you are asking your customers.
Here are some of the best VoC questions to get effective survey results:
- What matters most to you while selecting a company for service or products?
- How can your company improve its customer experience?
- What comes to mind when you think about a product or company?
- Name a competitor you would prefer over our service or product and explain why you would choose them?
- What characteristics do you look for in a product or company?
- Which company product or service have you used in the past 12 months?
- Would you recommend the product or company, and why?
Conclusion: Voice of the Customer
Understanding and properly responding to the voice of the customer is the primary determinant of the long-term success and survivability of an organization.
There will be conflicts, and there will be some tough decisions to make. But, there is no choice because if the organization fails to fully understand the voice of the customer, they will become a target for their competition, and the company that responds and listens the best will come out on top.
There are many ways an organization can capture the VOC. Among them are:
- Focus groups
- Direct observations
- Complaint data
- Customer service reps
- Sales reps
- Existing company data
- Industry data