Voice of Customer (VoC) programs are one of the most widely used strategies by businesses around the world for improving customer experience and customer satisfaction.
Effectively using VoC programs has also been proven to play an important role in increasing customer retention rates, and thereby the overall return on investment of customer experience efforts.
This is apparent also from research done by the Aberdeen Group, which informs us that best-in-class VoC users enjoy an almost 10x greater increase year-over-year in annual company revenue.
However, as most businesses realize soon after adopting a VoC program, merely implementing a strategy is not the same as making it effective.
After an initial spurt of attention, VoC programs generally fall into a state of disuse and keep gathering data which provides no actionable information that can be used for efforts towards improving customer experience and customer satisfaction.
Before discussing how you can make your VoC program actionable, let us understand what it exactly entails and how it is expected to benefit a brand or business.
What is a VoC Program?
In essence, a Voice of the Customer program is the process of collating information to ascertain the needs and wants of the customer.
The research method does this by capturing everything that customers are saying about the brand—be it about products, customer service, or general experience—and then compounding all this information to provide the business with its customers’ perspective.
By performing this exercise, businesses can effectively visualize the disparity between customer expectations and their actual experience with the brand.
Also, the VoC data helps in refining the buyer persona and provides businesses with a better understanding of their target audience.
Based on the insights provided by VoC programs, business functions such as customer success, operations, and product development can identify and improve all stages of the customer's journey by working together to enhance their products and services.
The benefits of a Voice of Customer program become apparent not just in improved customer satisfaction, but in increased collaboration among internal teams as well.
Using VoC as a strategic process integrated into your business practices, you can spot early warning and potential brand crisis, evaluate new solutions, customize your services, add-ons, and features to meet the needs and wants of your customers, thereby substantially increasing your customer retention rates.
Techniques to Capture the Voice of your Customers
1. Customer Interviews
Though it is a relatively expensive way of communicating with your customers, interviews are considered one of the most effective ways you can interact directly with them.
Usually carried out in-person, through emails, and via phone calls, customer interviews are perceived as personal interactions undertaken by a brand and therefore enjoy a high level of trust with the customers.
2. On-site Surveys
Using on-site surveys helps you know your customer’s opinions and suggestions in real-time as they navigate your site.
Due to this, on-site surveys are a great way to judge the popularity of the customer experience you are providing and the efforts you are putting into improving it.
3. Social-media Mining
Since a lot of brand-customer interactions, including complaint redressals, take place nowadays over social media, it has become imperative for businesses to mine social media platforms for useful information in VoC programs.
Apart from checking direct interactions through the brand’s social-media channels, it’s also becoming increasingly common among businesses to use AI-enabled text-mining tools which can find out everything the customers are saying about your brand anywhere on the social-media platforms.
4. Net Promoter Score
Perhaps the most commonly used tool to find out how well a brand is performing according to its customers, NPS is a customer loyalty metric developed by Fred Reichheld, Bain & Company, and Satmetrix Systems.
The way it works is straightforward—customers are directly asked to grade the level of their satisfaction with the brand, usually on a scale of 1 to 10.
Apart from these, other ways of collecting VoC data include website behavior, off-site surveys, focus groups, dedicated feedback forms, live chats, and recorded call data.
Now, even though most businesses recognize the importance of having a VoC program and invest a fair amount of resources into collecting data through it, the majority of them fall short of reaping proportionate benefits through it.
The biggest reason for this is an uncertainty among teams about how to use the data gathered through VoC programs in their initiatives. In order to address this issue, we need to discuss some common ways by which after creating a Voice of the Customer program businesses can go an extra step and make it actionable.
5. Listen carefully and constantly
A strategic problem with VoC programs happens when businesses view them simply as customer survey execution systems. This approach fails to use the full potential of VoC programs and the customer feedback management system ends up serving as only a survey engine.
To rectify this problem, businesses need to understand that VoC programs are not just limited to gathering NPS statistics, but to bring about a holistic view of the way customers think about the brand.
Consider that according to research by Temkin Group only 1% of the businesses using VoC programs deserve to be called fully mature with the way they are doing so.
These businesses who have moved beyond traditional use cases recognize the need to evolve VoC programs in tandem with the market.
The need of the hour for businesses is to use sophisticated tools for listening to customers on a day-by-day basis and to keep integrating the gathered data into an ever-evolving view of the customer.
Adopting such an approach can help move businesses move past the ennui of simply having a VoC program to actually using it.
6. MOVE BEYOND TRADITIONAL SEGMENTATION
The traditional segmentation approach may provide you insights initially, but all too soon its return providing capacity begins to stagnate.
At this stage, most businesses find themselves wondering about the future use of their VoC programs and customer experience teams are unable to progress beyond the transaction-oriented approach.
The segmentation process divides customers into groups based on parameters like location, sector the business operates in (financial, tech, retail, etc.), product/service, pricing plan, revenue amount, account age, customer persona, etc.
Then, the most valuable segments among these are recognized and efforts are made to improve the customer experience for them, which is certainly a beneficial approach, but it fails to go beyond and take a broader perspective.
For moving forward in a more effective manner, businesses must look at solutions that provide capabilities for sentiment analysis and individual customer interaction analysis along with follow-up strategies.
7. Focus on the complete customer journey
Straight forward NPS systems are certainly attractive in their simplicity, but they have an obvious shortcoming—they ask the customers for their opinions only at the end of the customer journey.
Due to this, while a business may be able to get a general idea of how well they are or are not satisfying the customers, it is impossible to know where exactly the customer experience is lagging behind customer expectations.
Needless to say, without this information, your customer experience team will find it hard pressed to make any meaningful improvements.
Therefore, the Voice of Customer program’s growth depends on your ability to collect customer feedback data at each distinct point of the customer journey.
By using these insights about VoC programs, you can start on the journey of making your program actionable.
Moreover, adopting a journey-based approach is helpful to marketers because it helps in pointing out the specific points where the customer experience needs to be improved, and thus justifies the need for additional resources to managements for making the corresponding efforts.
So, without further ado, start making those much needed changes to your VoC program and you will soon enough be looking at tangible progress made because of them.