Paying close attention to what your customers say and think about your business is vital for building a customer-centric business that has a loyal base of satisfied customers.
Voice of the Customer programs can help you gather these thoughts and better understand your customers in the process.
When customers make decisions about your business, whether positive or negative, it’s vital to truly understand your customers’ perspectives.
Ultimately business metrics only tell part of the story. Customer feelings and opinions can provide you with an invaluable insight into why they choose your business.
When you know what your target audience wants from your business, you can build an offering that helps create a solid base of loyal brand supporters.
In this post, we’ll look at what Voice of the Customer is and how you can leverage it to better understand customer sentiment and improve customer experience.
What is the Voice of the Customer?
Voice of the Customer (VoC) is a term that describes your customer’s feedback about their experiences and expectations of your products or services.
The exact definition of VoC originates from a co-authored 1993 paper by Griffin and Hauser, who defined it as a “complete set of customer wants and needs expressed in the customer’s own language; organized the way the customer thinks about, uses and interacts with the product and service; and prioritized by the customer in terms of both importance and performance.”
VoC was first used to improve product development but now references any type of customer market research.
VoC usually includes both qualitative and quantitative research methods designed to get to the core of what your customers think of your product, service, or business.
Why is the voice of the customer important?
The key to retaining loyal customers isn’t always your business offering or price point. It’s the experience that customers associate with your brand.
94% of customers say that they’re likely to purchase from a company with “very good” CX.
Providing top-level customer experience is one way to differentiate yourself from competing businesses. In fact, more than two-thirds of companies now compete primarily on the basis of customer experience.
One study by The Aberdeen Group, called “The Business Value of Building a Best-in-Class VoC Program” discovered that companies that invest in customer feedback programs experience much higher client retention rates, employee engagement and spend less on customer service:
To provide customers with superior CX, you need to first know their expectations and experiences of your business.
Learn more about what customer experience is and why it is important.
VoC can help you better understand your customers and their needs and therefore improve your customer experience.
Prioritizing your customers’ needs will ultimately help you make better decisions about your business offering and hold onto your most loyal and valuable customers.
How does VoC impact your business?
Without knowing how your customers feel about your business, you can’t improve your customer experience.
Through capturing VoC you can better engage with your customers at all stages of the customer journey and improve their experience with your business.
This VoC market research methodology helps you:
- Identify potential problems early on
- Give your customers what they really want
- Review new ideas and launches
- Modify your products and services to match your customers’ demands
- Boost customer retention
How do you capture the voice of the customer?
Effectively reaching out to your customers provides the foundation for a successful VoC strategy.
A well-thought-out methodology provides you with insights to understand customer preferences, pain points, and complaints.
Before opting for a method, you should first identify an overall question and objective for your program.
If you gather insights without an objective in mind, you might not know how to use the insights to make improvements across your business.
Here are some examples of objectives and questions you could plan your methodology around.
- Identify the reason why gym members are canceling their subscriptions more frequently this quarter than last quarter.
- Understand why customer satisfaction levels are higher in your city center restaurant franchise location than in your beachside one.
- Find out why customers are more likely to purchase certain products in one of your store locations over another one.
- How do customers feel about our new home delivery service?
- What do customers think about our new Zoom law consultations?
- How do customers feel about doing online therapy in their own homes?
Once you’ve identified some objectives and questions, you may find there’s a VoC technique that’s a natural fit for capturing the data.
6 techniques to capture the VoC
The exact cost of acquiring a new customer over retaining a current one is hotly debated. The old rule of thumb is that a new customer costs 5 times as much to acquire as retain an existing one.
While there’s no hard and fast rule for every business, meeting your customers’ expectations is key to building a loyal customer base.
Effectively capturing the VoC is one way to better understand your current customer base and their unique set of needs.
1. Online customer surveys
Conducting online surveys is a great way of understanding your customers and the issues they face.
Asking the right questions and using a suitable platform is essential for capturing reliable and honest answers.
Customer surveys should ask a mix of open-ended and close-ended questions. To ensure maximum completion rate and minimum drop-off rate, they shouldn’t be more than 4 questions long.
You should also think about your goals and what specific pieces of information you’re looking to find out about your business and your customers’ experiences.
Learn more about how to create an effective customer satisfaction survey and how to ask the right questions.
2. Face-to-face customer interviews
If you’re able to meet with your customers face-to-face, either in person or remotely, customer interviews can be a great way of uncovering honest and more personal insights about your business’s offering.
In these kinds of interviews, you’ll have the advantage of being able to interpret the customers’ tone of voice and body language.
Although the cost of in-person interviews is higher than other forms of measuring the VoC, it’s considered the best way of building trusting customer relationships.
3. Social media
Social media gives you the possibility of having a two-way interaction with your customers. It’s easy to participate in conversations your customers may be having about your business on platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.
Although it’s an easy and effective way of gathering honest feedback and looking for customer trends, it can be harder to turn these insights into hard data that you can use to shape your CX strategy.
4. Customer reviews
Positive and negative online customer reviews help you hone in on what customers want from your business. Online reviews may help you understand what requires attention whether that’s better customer service or a more affordable product offering.
Your reviews are likely scattered across 3rd-party review sites like:
You may also have customer reviews on industry-specific sites like:
- Zillow – real-estate reviews
- Healthgrades – doctor reviews
- Avvo – lawyer reviews
For example, these personalized customer reviews on Zillow are great for pinpointing which elements of the experience customers were satisfied with:
Customer reviews are invaluable for improving your customer experience and understanding where you need to make improvements.
Learn more about how to use customer reviews to improve your business.
5. Net Promoter Score (NPS)
Net Promoter Scores are a quick and effective way of measuring your customers’ loyalty to your business.
Customers must answer this question on a scale of 1-10:
“How likely are you to recommend our company to friends and colleagues?”
Collecting answers to this question helps you evaluate how loyal customers are to your business.
GatherUp’s NPS survey feature is a quick and easy way of pulling valuable insights from your busy customers, helping you better understand customer loyalty.
6. Feedback forms
You should also provide an online feedback form that customers can easily fill in. Don’t wait for customers to proactively seek it out though––make their life easier by sending it to them at opportune moments.
Think about these moments for sending customer feedback forms out:
- Following an interaction
- Post-purchase or service completion
- When a customer cancels their service
GatherUp can then help you gather, manage, and follow up on these customer feedback requests.
How do you analyze these customer insights to improve your business?
Once you’ve taken the time to gather valuable customer insights, it’s important to effectively analyze them so you have a clear business-wide strategy in place.
1. Measure the success of your methodology
First, you should evaluate the success of your VoC program by calculating the number or percentage of responses you receive.
For instance, if you sent out 500 requests and only received 20 responses, it would be worth investigating the methodology you used and thinking about whether it was suited to your target audience. If you’re targeting an older audience, perhaps an online feedback form delivered to their email inbox would be better than a social media poll.
2. Uncover trends
If one customer has mentioned they’d like to see a change in your business’s offering or a specific improvement, chances are that another customer would like the same or similar.
For example, do most of your customers in a certain area wish you offered home delivery?
Do your customers want you to use more environmentally friendly packaging?
It’s vital to know what percentage of customers want to see certain improvements so you can take adequate steps to prioritize initiatives.
3. Record these new insights
After analyzing insights for trends, record them in a centralized VoC document. You could consider building buyer personas around the results of your VoC research.
Creating updated buyer personas is one way to ensure your business offering remains current to your customers’ needs. A complete view of your target audience is key for building a business offering that wins repeat customers.
4. Compile these trends into reports
Create a detailed report on all of the insights and trends your research found across your customer base and target audience.
Make the report quantifiable by including numbers and percentages referring to your customers throughout. Use a centralized platform like Google Sheets to keep all your data in one place.
GatherUp’s performance report can compile all of your customer reviews, feedback requests, and survey questions in one place:
5. Build a plan of action
Depending on the insights and trends you uncover, you should create an actionable improvement plan to roll out across your business.
Ensure that your plan is customer-oriented and focused on improving the overall CX of your business.
If you’re stumped on strategies to enhance your CX, check out our 5 ways to improve customer experience.
6. Share your improvement plan with other team members
The final step is to present your plan to other team members and give them the tools they need to make improvements across the board whether that means giving them training sessions for improving their customer service or new software to better manage a home delivery service.
Examples of ‘VoC’ for brands in local industries
Local businesses that tap into the power of VoC insights will help develop their offering into something that prioritizes customer preferences and experiences.
If you’re still not sure about how using ‘VoC’ would look for your specific business, take a look at some of our industry examples:
- Restaurants could use VoC methodologies that measure and compare customer experience across multiple franchise locations will help business owners evaluate which are their top-performing locations and which franchises require improvement. For example, if customers report slow customer service in one location, management can take steps to train staff to be more efficient.
Location-specific feedback is vital for understanding which branches are performing well:
- Plumbers could implement VoC by setting up a feedback monitoring system for their web or Facebook page. On the business’s website, users could simply fill in an online feedback form:
- Hotels could use NPS surveys as an initial indication of VoC. Once they receive responses to an initial request, they could follow up with detractors and promoters to understand the exact details of what they enjoyed or didn’t enjoy about their experience with the business:
- Real-estate agents should use online and in-person customer surveys to initially evaluate their VoC and get a better sense of how customers feel about their overall service and performance.
Once they have some responses, they should then follow up to deepen their understanding of their customers’ opinions and where improvements could be made:
Use Voice of the Customer to improve customer experience in your business
Voice of the Customer programs should form a key component of understanding your customer base. When you take steps to understand what your customer wants from your business, you’ll improve their overall experience, which is vital to retaining loyal customers.
Start by clearly defining what you want to achieve from your VoC program and implement a couple of techniques to measure customer sentiment.
Make it a habit to use VoC to better understand your customer’s needs, perceptions, and experiences to build a customer-focused business.