What Is Voice of Customer? The Guide to Better Customer Experience
In the past, brands could only gain insight into customer experience through manual data collection or polls managed by external services. These options were expensive and time-consuming–often to the point that the results arrived too late to have a timely impact on business strategy. But with the influx of digital technologies, especially , brands now have plenty of options to collect customer feedback regarding their needs and expectations. With brands realizing that a quality of customer experience is a strong differentiating factor against competitors, a concept was developed to describe customers' expression of their needs, wants, and expectations.
This concept is called voice of the customer (VOC), and includes the development of a voice of the customer program so that customer feedback is gathered, analyzed, and successfully informs business strategy.
In this article we'll take a closer look at what VOC means, how you can create a successful voice of the customer program, voice of the customer examples, and its importance for your company and customers.
What is voice of the customer?
Voice of the customer programs lay out a process for gathering information from customers regarding their experiences and feelings about a business's products or services. The company will collect customer feedback through a dedicated voice of the customer program, with questions regarding their needs, expectations, and feelings. The business can then use the findings from their voice of the customer program to inform strategy, including the development or revision of products or services.
In terms of timing, a business can implement a voice of the customer program before a product or service hits the market, or once the product/service is live. In both cases, the purpose is to evolve their offer to better fit customer expectations.
How VOC impacts your business
Many businesses already measure metrics like returning customer rate revenue, and churn. However, those KPIs don't give insight into why those numbers are what they are. That's the point of voice of the customer programs: to understand customer experience, how that experience affects their behavior, and what motivates their decision making.
A successful voice of the customer program qualifies the gap between what customers expected and what they expected, an incredibly valuable insight. Once you have gathered information through the voice of the customer, you'll be able to refine the product or service so the customer meets the actual demands and expectations of your target audience.
We'll go through the specific benefits for a voice of the customer program later in this article, but the most significant impact voice of the customer has on your business is to supply the “why” behind KPIs like customer retention rate and revenue. Once you improve communication with customers through a voice of the customer program, you'll have a better understanding of your customer's perspective. What actions to take to improve customer satisfaction will be evident, you'll have a higher incidence of customer retention, and enjoy the advantages of positive word of mouth.
How to implement a voice of the customer program
Though there are many voice of the customer examples, all have to do with the central element of a voice of the customer program: reaching out to the customer. In order to get the most value out of a VOC program, you'll need to approach it in a methodological way. We've outlined the five steps you'll need to follow for an organized approach to VOC.
- Set your objective.
- Data collection.
- Feedback analysis.
- Prioritization and implementation.
- Follow up.
Though you've got a little bit of work to put in before you're ready to deploy your voice of the customer program, it's certainly worth the effort. Pulling in technology can also ease the process by helping to process the large quantities of data, such as from . Once your voice of the customer is on a roll, your business will better understand the customer experience and their desires, intelligence that will drive quantifiable value for the company.
Set your objective
You should decide your VOC objective by looking at your current metrics and noting the questions that arise naturally from analysis of the status quo. For example, you could ask yourself:
- The number of repeat purchases has stopped. Why?
- XX% of our customers report feelings of loyalty to our brand–how can this be improved?
- Where in your customer journey do you lack data? What information about those stages of the customer journey would help to refine your product/service?
Once you've evaluated your metrics and chosen your key questions, you'll easily identify an objective: increase revenue, loyalty, retention, etc. When choosing your objective, it's best to focus on high-level metrics. That's because during the voice of the customer program, you'll discover information that helps you identify the precise actions and goals that lead to your larger objective. Once you've pinpointed your high-level goals, it's time to move on to the next step of your voice of the customer program.
The second step of a voice of the customer program is data collection, during which you pose questions to your customers. If you don't have an objective decided, you won't know which questions are most relevant to your business, and what you're trying to find out. If your questions aren't aligned with your goals, the results will not be as targeted as they need to be in order for your voice of the customer program to make a significant difference to your business. Though the type of question will vary depending on your business sector, here are examples of questions you could include in your voice of the customer program.
- What company comes to mind first when you think of (company, brand, product/service)?
- What's your preference for communicating with (your business)?
- How do we compare to the competition?
- How appealing would each of the following be? (Provide list of products/services).
- What are the factors you consider when purchasing (product/service)?
- How likely are you to purchase another (product/service) from (your business) in the next six months?
- What do you like best about (your company/product/service)?
Voice of the customer examples
Once you have put together a selection of questions relevant to your objectives, the next step is to choose how you'll collect your data from your customers. With the advent of many different technologies, there is an abundance of options. In fact, there are so many it can be difficult to know what to choose. That's why we've put together a selection of the most reliable voice of the customer examples so you can choose the ones that work best for your internal resources and customers. Generally, a mix of the following voice of the customer examples is the best approach.
- Customer interviews.
- Online customer surveys.
- Live chat.
- Social media.
- Website behavior.
- Recorded call data.
- Online customer reviews.
- In-person surveys.
- Net Promoter Score.
- Focus groups.
- Dedicated feedback forms.
Once you've put your voice of the customer examples into action and started the process of gathering data, you'll be able to reassess how well those methods are working and if your current voice of the customer program has put you on the right path to accomplish your objectives.
Having a systematic approach to analyzing the feedback collected during the previous step is an important stride toward extracting the value from your voice of the customer program. Once you've gathered a significant amount of data in the previous step, extracting the valuable insights is the most exciting (and arguably, important) step. Here are a few tips on how you can make the most of your feedback analysis.
Measure success based on number of responses
One of the most important considerations of feedback analysis is to have a significant data sample size. While this sample size should be proportionate to your customer base. A general rule of thumb is that the sample size should be about 10% of your customer base. You'll also need to evaluate whether your choices of questions and the methods used are appropriate for your customer base. If you get very few responses from customers, you should reevaluate your methods and try out different ones. One characteristic that affects response rate is age. For example, if your customer base is older, they may prefer more traditional methods of responding to surveys like email or phone. If they are younger, you may be able to increase your response rate by reaching out through social media.
Identify trends and themes
Using technology like helps to identify trends and common themes that resurface throughout customer responses. A sentiment analysis tool takes on the bulk of the work to identify topics that surface repeatedly. In fact, a software like Ringover's will even track the customer's mood while speaking, so you can measure their positive or negative sentiment when discussing your products/services. Sentiment analysis is powered by Artificial intelligence-based , which ensures accurate results.
Compile findings in one centralized location
If you have your findings in one central place it will be easier to spot trends and disseminate the information found across your business. When you have a complete picture of your customer feedback, you can integrate it into your buyer persona. That's why which provide sentiment analysis and reporting capabilities, are useful for voice of the customer programs.
Visualize trends and create reports
Creating quality, easy--to-understand reporting is a key part of the voice of the customer program. If you don't create an intelligible report, your findings risk falling by the wayside. You can either use a basic tool like a spreadsheet, or a sales enablement tool like Ringover's to easily pick up graphics from the software.
Create an action plan
Your action should reflect the general objective you set in the first step of the voice of the customer program. However, the specific steps in your action plan will reflect the themes that surfaced during your customer feedback collection process. If you asked the right questions and employed the right data collection methods, the actions you should take will be clear.
Prioritization and implementation of actions
There are two aspects to this step. First, the prioritization of your voice of the customer program action points. The tasks that you complete first should reflect your objective closely. So if your objective is to increase your retention rate and you receive feedback on how to improve your product/services, that's a number one priority. When it comes time to implement your actions, you'll need to make strategic decisions on how and who will carry out the changes. This leads up to the most exciting step, the follow up on the effects of your voice of the customer program.
Following up on your VOC program isn't just about monitoring the metrics. You've opened a line of communication with your customers–make sure it goes both ways! Sharing the optimizations you make with your target audience signals to your target audience their feedback is valued. Once your clients understand that your business values their feedback enough to make changes based on it, you begin to establish a strong relationship of trust. Follow up your KPIs for the VOC program to see how they've evolved. But doing another round of customer feedback collection wouldn't go amiss either. That's the best way to get specific feedback on the exact actions you took to determine if they were effective.
The Importance of VOC
Thanks to digital media like forums, comments, social media, and more, customers have already found their voice. This public feedback impacts your business, as other prospects considering your prospects and services will be impacted by what they read online. That's just one of the reasons why it's so important for business to take the voice of the customer in hand.
Keeping a close eye on customer satisfaction will help you to evolve your product and service for their needs and expectations. Let's take a closer look at the benefits for both you and your company.
The benefits for the company
Implementing a voice of the customer program when you're designing a product or service allows you to tweak before bringing it to market, saving valuable time and money. Plus, you will have quality information on how to build your product for your target audience, ensuring it will have a stronger appeal to them.
If your product is already on the market, you can integrate a voice of the customer program to address any points of improvement. Making changes when a product/service is already on the market helps reduce churn rate and improve revenue. Either way, taking the voice of the customer into account will improve your brand image.
Customers know which brands take into account customer feedback and which don't, and they value when brands make an effort to understand them. That fosters a virtuous circle in which the voice of the customer programs solicit feedback and apply it, thus encouraging more feedback. The customer receives what they want and need from a brand, and the brand sees an improvement in sales, profitability, and turnover.
The benefits for the customers
A customer's top priority is always to find a product that fits their needs and expectations. That's why customers have begun to take note of what brands engage with customers to solicit feedback. Once a brand puts a voice of the customer program in place, it increases customer satisfaction because it communicates to the customers the brand values their needs. Once the brand implements changes thanks to the customer feedback, that's an even more important step it proves to the customer the brand trusts and is willing to implement their feedback.
Voice of the customer tools
What is meant by voice of customer?
Voice of the customer is a concept that focuses on the customer experience, specifically the customer needs, wants, expectations, and preferences. Customer experience is a key differentiating factor when customers decide between competitors. Implementing a VOC program helps brands to evolve their products and services in a way that's highly likely to improve revenue because it's based entirely on the customers' communications regarding their desires for the brand's products and services.
What is voice of the customer examples?
An example of the voice of the customer being used is a clothing brand uses a hashtag-based campaign to encourage customers to give feedback about their brand and products. The brand can then use a sentiment analysis tool to understand the emotions expressed by customers when using the hashtag. Once the brand has an understanding of the feedback left by customers, they can then determine what actions should be taken in response, and communicate it to their clients so the clients understand the brand takes their feedback seriously.
How do you identify the voice of a customer?
There are many different ways to identify the voice of a customer. Here are a few common options:
- Phone surveys
- Social media
- Customer reviews
- Recorded customer calls
- Focus groups
- Feedback forms
- Net promoter score
- Website behavior
What is a VOC strategy?
A VOC strategy is an outline for the steps of a voice of the customer program. This should include
- Setting an objective
- Collective data
- Analyzing data
- Implementing actions based on data
- Follow up
Having an outline for your VOC program and the questions you'll ask during data collection helps you set goals and stick to them. With a structured VOC program, you'll have a stronger chance of asking relevant questions and gathering useful data.