Today, with the rise of connectivity, customers’ reviews and experiences with different brands are spreading faster than ever. And to keep up with their expectations, brands and market leaders are increasingly investing in customer-oriented strategies such as Voice of the Customer (VoC) programs to drive loyalty and encourage sales.
In fact, a successful business is a business that understands its customers. It pays close attention to what they are saying, their needs and ultimately what is the best way to satisfy these needs.
By understanding your customers, their interests and behavioral patterns, you’re building a solid customer relationship with them and leading your business towards success. Voice of the Customer programs is one way to do this, and a reliable one that gets you all the relevant answers you need.
What exactly is Voice of Customer?
Voice of the Customer (VoC) refers to the feedback and opinions expressed by users and consumers about the products and services of a brand. It’s a research method that is used by businesses to better understand customers’ needs, expectations, requirements and overall perspective of the brand.
Voice of the Customer programs have become widely used by companies and are becoming fast-growing segments of their strategies as they allow them to evaluate the gap between customer expectations and their actual experience with the brand. They allow businesses to develop an in-depth understanding of a customer’s complex decision-making process.
Implementing VoC programs helps businesses gather important data about their customers and especially their buyer persona. After analyzing the latter, the company becomes more familiar with behavioral customer trends and is able to improve its current products and services or even create new ones that will meet customers’ needs and expectations.
Furthermore, Voice of the Customer finds itself in the middle of core business functions like customer success, operations and even product development. By conducting these programs, you’re participating in the improvement of all stages of the customer’s journey while also enhancing your internal efficiency.
Why is Voice of the Customer important?
In today’s market, competition between businesses that offer the same goods is fiercer than ever. While offering better quality products and services than your competitor is one of the main keys to success; it is the customer experience you deliver that will ultimately make the biggest difference. Great customer service is a major competitive advantage.
A VoC program reveals what the customer thinks about your brand, what you’re doing right and where you could improve to deliver experiences that resonate perfectly with the customer voice. By understanding your customers’ needs and expectations and being responsive to them, you can seize valuable opportunities to make your customers happy and mitigate rough patches for future customers. It helps you build a loyal customer base as well as attracting new customers.
Here are a few other reasons why Voice of the Customer is important to the success of your business:
- It helps you evaluate new concepts, ideas and solutions
- It makes you think forward about future plans, products, etc.
- It Increases customer retention
- It allows you to customize your products and services to adapt to the needs of your customers
- It helps you detect problems or issues quickly
Benefits of Voice of the Customer
According to Gartner Group, 89 percent of companies expect to compete mostly on the basis of customer experience (source). So as you can imagine, there are many benefits that come with implementing a Voice of the Customer program in your company :
- It helps you better understand your customers : What do my customers need? What do they expect? What do my customers love about my brand? What do they dislike? How can I improve my products or services?
- It helps you set goals for the future
- It helps you avoid bad surprises or future failures
- It helps you build a customer-oriented company culture by putting the customer at the heart of your strategies and decisions
- It enhances good business development
- Customers are willing to pay more for better customer experience
- Companies that have high Net Promoter Score grow faster
- Customers with a positive customer experience are more likely to recommend the company to a friend
- Satisfied customers are more likely to become lifelong customers and consume more
- Keeping loyal customers costs less than attracting new ones
How to build a successful Voice of Customer program?
Voice of Customer (VoC) programs can include rather complex tasks such as collecting data, extracting insights and actually applying the results on your customers’ lifecycles. It requires a lot of effort to build an in-depth, step-by-step plan to achieve your goals. A successful Voice of Customer program is built by aligning all the necessary factors essential to lead the company towards a customer-centric approach.
Before we dive into the best practices to build a successful Voice of Customer program, it’s important to point out that the core framework is : Listen, Act and Analyze. Therefore, you must first of all, capture insightful feedback from your customers through different channels, follow up with a quick response to their feedback and finally, analyze and assess progress based on existing goals and measure improvement.
Here is how you can successfully establish a Voice of Customer program and participate in building a customer-focused organization :
1. Strong leadership
Implementing a customer-oriented culture starts with top management. The initiative must come from high-level executives in order for it to be successful and have maximum impact. It’s important to start from there and then gradually move to lower-level management to make sure that everyone in the company is working towards a common goal: putting customers at the heart of their strategies.
2. Vision and clarity
There must be a solid vision of the VoC program. This vision must be clear and understood by everyone in the company.
3. Alignment and action
Alignment means that all members of an organization are working towards the same vision and that each team orients its actions towards the accomplishment of this vision. In Voice of Customer programs, this means that each action taken seeks to improve the customer experience.
4. Engagement and collaboration
Constant engagement and collaboration between employees are crucial to the success of a customer-focused program. The synergy created by cross-functional collaboration will result in more impactful and successful outcomes. You can even create an employee experience program to evaluate and encourage collaboration.
5. Patience and commitment
As the proverb Rome wasn’t built in a day suggests, building a top-tier customer culture isn’t something you’ll be able to do in one night. It will most likely take you a few years. Leaders must demonstrate patience and commitment to the process and their vision.
6. Multiple data channels
Another important factor that contributes to building a great VoC program is connecting customer feedback across multiple data channels. Don’t rely on one or two channels to get accurate valuable customer insights, instead deploy an omni-channel feedback tool to gather relevant customer insights that you can rely on to better your customer experience.
7. Relevant up-to-date tools
In order to set up a successful VoC program, you must rely on the appropriate tools. These tools must give you a clear image of what’s going on in your business. Use platforms including dashboards, reports and metrics to gather accurate information and insights about your customers and their experience with your brand.
Voice of the Customer techniques
It always costs more to attract new customers than to keep the ones you have. So here are some important Voice of the Customer techniques that will help you retain your customers and offer them a better customer experience :
Customer interviews and focus groups are one of the more traditional ways to collect VoC data. Having personal interviews with each customer or gathering them in one room to talk gives you access to their unfiltered point of views and perceptions about your products and services.
It also allows you to ask questions regarding specific issues that you may have with your products, their performance, features and so on. This technique helps you gain valuable insights into your customers’ needs while also building a trusting customer relationship.
On-site customer surveys
Another way to listen to your customers is through on-site surveys. These tend to be a little trickier because you need to ask the right questions using the right platform to understand your customers and the type of issues they may face.
According to your activity and what you’re trying to assess, you can choose different types of surveys (yes/no type, drop-down surveys, multiple answers surveys, etc.) to get reliable answers.
Dedicated feedback form
It’s very important to have a dedicated feedback form on your website. This allows your existing customers as well as new visitors to share their feedback about your brand, products or services or anything related to your business at any time they want.
A technique like this helps you collect qualitative and valuable information from your customers. You can also include some thought-provoking questions in your form that will incite them to provide insightful answers.
Integrating a live chat or chatbot on your website is a great way to collect real-time feedback and analyze customer complaints. It is also a good tool to capture Voice of Customer data, since you can schedule a follow-up survey with anyone who uses the live chat feature.
It is no secret that social media is an incredible tool to engage with your customers and get feedback from them whether through comments, private messages or online reviews. Social media allows you to navigate real time conversations with people that use your products or services.
With the connectivity we’re witnessing now, customer reviews can affect your online reputation immensely. In fact, it’s becoming a common reflex for people to rely or at least check customer reviews before purchasing a product or soliciting a service. Therefore, to understand VoC through social media, make sure to engage with your community, respond to positive reviews and handle negative ones.
Your website is a great place for you to evaluate your VoC strategy. By analyzing your customers’ behavior on your website, your data processor can collect valuable data about how your customers interact with your website, how much time they spend on it, what they click on the most, etc.
Recorded call data
Again, with the help of your data processor, you can leverage historical data of recorded phone calls with your customers. Recorded calls can give you an overview of how your customers perceive your brand and the common problems they face. It also allows you to track your improvement over a certain period of time. Although this technique requires a bit of time, it gives you both insight on your current voice of the customer program and on better ways to handle your customer support service.
Net Promoter Score (NPS)
Net Promoter Score (NPS) is an indicator of customer satisfaction and loyalty. It is a simple and effective way to measure customer loyalty by asking one question : how likely are you to recommend our company to a friend or a colleague? The customer has to answer on a scale of 0 to 10.