How do you manage to stay ahead of your competition? How do you develop the products or services that your customers are asking for? The answer is by asking for your customers’ feedback. Read our ultimate guide to Voice of Customer (VoC) to find out how a VoC program is a valuable asset that will help you achieve it.
Voice of Customer vs. Customer Satisfaction
Often believed to be interchangeable with customer satisfaction, Voice of Customer is a form of feedback from your customers. While both are part of a successful customer experience strategy, there are nuanced differences between them. A customer satisfaction survey gives customers the opportunity to evaluate their experience after the actual transaction. Voice of Customer, in turn, anticipates customers’ experiences – it asks for the desires, needs, ideas, and general observations. The timing is therefore different: Many companies decide to utilise the power of VoC when they want to develop a new product or service, for instance.
Why you should care about Voice of Customer
Most modern businesses already have a heavy customer experience focus. They are providing exactly the services their target audiences are longing for – seemingly before they know it themselves. It’s no power of foresight, though. It is simply the power of feedback and customer insights used to improve experience and cater to evolving needs. VoC is hereby especially effective for staying ahead of the game – not only to make improvements in reaction to negative experiences, but to already develop new strategies based on fulfilling the wishes and needs expressed by customers. Let’s take a look at the benefits of honing in to the Voice of the Customer.
1. Shape a marketing plan
Your customers’ feedback doesn’t only help with the design of new products or services. It helps you to analyse their overall outlook more closely, their ways of thinking and using a product or service. This helps you to understand which marketing strategies will resonate most strongly with your audience and link them to what you are offering.
2. Eliminate risks
Gathering feedback after an interaction is important to improve services, but collecting Voice of Customer data before developing new products and services also helps eliminate the risks that often come with new ideas. This does not only concern the money invested in innovation, but also entails such considerations as whether it aligns with your customers’ core values.
3. Create, cement, or improve your brand
Once you have determined your target audience, VoC helps to make sure your perceptions and ideals are in line with those of the customers you are catering to. It helps customers to find the right brand and helps you to find the right customers for your brand, like a feedback-based matchmaking service.
4. Analyse the market
Voice of Customer will not only help you understand the individual perceptions that make up your customers, but it will thereby also give you a feel of the market. Is this tool available with another company? Are others developing similar features? Are they ahead or are they closing in on our functions? VoC will therefore ensure you remain competitive and help you to not only hit the market with the right product or service, but also hit it at the right time.
Designing a successful Voice of Customer program
As with most feedback strategies, there is no single questionnaire that solves all your problems. Most solutions are made up of different feedback forms that complement each other and are conducted in different time frame and tackling different issues. We’ve already discussed why it makes sense to conduct a VoC survey before the development of a new product and why it makes sense to conduct a customer satisfaction survey after a transaction. So, let’s have a closer look at the different types of VoC and how they can make up a successful Voice of Customer program.
Structured Vs. Unstructured Voice of Customer feedback
When you think of collecting feedback, your mind will most likely jump to online questionnaires. This is the most common form to gather feedback in our modern, digital world. Because gaining data this way is designed with a clear structure on the form – a sequence of specific questions and ranking options – we refer to it as structured VoC.
On the other hand, there are many ways to collect feedback in a more open way to complement the insights gained in the questionnaires. The so-called unstructured VoC can be gathered through social media (from Instagram surveys in stories to posts asking to send in feedback, for instance), through rating platforms such as yelp, Tripadvisor, etc., and through inquiries into customer service interactions.
The most common combinations in a successful VoC program
Listening to your customers’ voices with care requires a combination of different survey types to understand, analyse, and implement the feedback you have received. Here are some common survey types that work together to create a balanced Voice of Customer program.
Customer service forms
A customer service form asks customers to evaluate their service interactions with your business. This is essential for identifying what you’re doing well and where improvements can be made. Microsoft found that 58% of consumers would not return to a company due to poor customer service, highlighting just how important this is for a business.
Net Promoter Score (NPS)
The NPS survey helps you to understand customers’ opinions by asking how likely they are to recommend you to others. Learn more about NPS here.
Customer churn surveys
Analysing and tracking customer churn helps you to understand why customers choose to stop doing business with you. This in turn gives you the insights you need to understand how to make others stay. Find out more about customer churn here.
Different Forms of Gathering Feedback
Most of the types discussed above are survey-based feedback solutions. We have also mentioned social media or review platforms as ways to gain insights. However, there are many more ways to gain Voice of Customer feedback. For example:
- Live chats and Q&As
- Customer interviews, testimonials, and case studies
- Focus groups
Key VoC challenges and how to tackle them
As with any feedback-based solution, it is never only about how to collect the feedback. This is just the first step. Here are some of our key tips for gathering, analysing, and finally implementing the data from your Voice of Customer program.
Gathering VoC feedback
Make sure your surveys are tailored to your target audiences and conducted at the right time. Be clear about your benchmarks and goals. Try and reach your customers in different and balanced ways in order to avoid overwhelming them.
Analysing VoC feedback
Perhaps your customers are satisfied but the NPS score shows they are quite passive and wouldn’t actively recommend you. Why is that? Are your products well adapted to your customers’ needs, but your customer service needs some improvements? Combining the different types of VoC will help you identify gaps in your offering and areas for improvement.
Implementing VoC feedback
After identifying where improvements need to be made, it is also always advisable to keep collecting feedback while making changes to monitor the progress. This also helps you to make sure that the improvements are actually what customers are asking for and not futile efforts.
. . . and off you go!
With this ultimate guide, you have the starting point you need to design your individual Voice of Customer program. Define your audience and your purpose, ask the right questions at the right time, and make sure to monitor your progress and your customers’ opinions when implementing change. If you want to have a look at some examples of a VoC questionnaire, check out our post on this here. Alternatively, you can reach us at any time via this contact form or start your free Netigate trial today!