Whether you’re asking for opinions or not, customers offer them and give feedback on just about anything. Thanks to the availability of online channels that connect customers with businesses on a level unlike anything before, it’s almost as if customers expect you to listen and respond. On that note, if you choose not to listen (and respond), customers will take additional (potentially detrimental) measures to make their voice heard.
As a business owner, the question isn’t about whether you’re listening or not, but rather about what you’re going to do with all the feedback. The first step is to capture it; this data is valuable to your business!
While some business leaders find this capturing process bothersome, it’s interesting to note several company blowups that could have been prevented had they implemented a better program for capturing the Voice of the Customer (VoC).
“Voice of the Customer” is a term used in business to describe the process of capturing the customer’s preferences, expectations, and aversions. Simply put, it is a customer feedback platform.
Traditionally, VoCs were collected using VoC survey forms, where customers provided feedback regarding their experiences and expectations. But modern VoCs are built upon the foundations of:
- Active listening: a mechanism that allows customers to air their compliments, comments, and complaints 24/7.
- Pulse monitoring: a way of tracking changes in outcomes and their indicators.
Modern VoCs now incorporate the use of technology to simplify the process of information gathering, instead of the low-tech pen and paper surveys of the past. Additional options to capture VoCs include:
- Engaging in forums both on and offline
- Social media tracking
- Observing user behavior
The best VoC platforms involve the use of the Net Promoter Score (NPS), which provides a mechanism for measuring the customer experience in a way that predicts business growth.
Why Use the Voice of the Customer?
VoC is about being proactive when it comes to customer support and constantly trying to innovate to improve the entire customer experience. Companies use VoC to improve across every department and customer touch point.
VoC allows companies to identify/prioritize needs, wants, issues, and developments. VoC also provides a mechanism for soliciting ideas and solutions. Importantly, it centralizes feedback data to be disseminated to other departments.
Incorporating the best parts of VoCs should then make it possible to act on feedback to maximize profits. After all, data suggests that improving the customer experience could lead to revenue growth. A study conducted by the Aberdeen group shows that companies that use VoC data have 10x more revenue than those that don’t, and they also enjoy higher customer retention rates and employee engagement.
As a result of a VoC focus, some super users/customers may act as an extension of your sales and marketing teams, playing the role of “brand ambassador,” which involves sharing advice and feedback regarding how other customers feel about the product, service or company.
Using VoC can also lower customer care costs, because it can reveal customer preferences. To benchmark this effect, iPerceptions reports that their customer care costs decreased 6.3% over a year due to VoC, while other companies saw theirs rise by 2%.
How Companies Can Apply VoC
There are many possible applications for VoC across a variety of departments:
- Sales: VoCs help with understanding customer behaviors and trends can allow business to adapt or anticipate.
- Customer service: VoCs allow companies to listen to customers and build relationships with them over time. On that note, 57% of organizational areas that use VoCs are the customer service department.
- Marketing: VoCs can help with determining the positioning of a product in the market. Using VoCs, a company can understand a customer’s viewpoints and factors that influence their purchase decisions.
Building an Effective VoC Program
A VoC is an ongoing conversation. It’s important to gather information, then use it in a timely fashion to help improve the company.
When building an effective VoC Program, it’s important to consider 4 areas. First, capture data by listening to customer posts both internally and externally. Next, analyze the data you have captured and provide insights for the departments at stake. Then, act as soon as possible. Knowing where the problem lies allows you to correct it. Finally, monitor efforts by tracking results over time.
When building an effective VoC program, it’s important to keep a couple things in mind. Namely, you must connect multiple types of feedback across data channels while providing automatic collaboration across departments. Besides the Voice of the Customer, it’s also important to incorporate the voice of the employee. Leverage reports that integrate and display information from multiple customer voices regardless of source, survey or time. When all’s said and done, be able to deliver clear ROI and business results.
VoC Best Practices
It’s not hard to see the value of incorporating a VoC program as a part of developing your company’s customer experience. The real challenge is in being effective. These VoC best practices will help you do that:
Open the gates to customer feedback.
If you haven’t done it before, there’s no time like the present. Aim to collect feedback that is useful and actionable.
Make feedback a part of the routine.
Companies must respond to feedback that they receive and do so in a timely fashion. 80% of consumers said they would not buy from a company that had responded to feedback months later.
Take action related to what the feedback says.
This is a critical step as far as extracting use from customer feedback. Don’t just listen, act as well.
Close the feedback loop.
There must be agents of your company assigned to monitor the feedback exchange with customers, and track these conversations until there is a resolution. This ensures that all feedback gets the attention and response it deserves.
Share the feedback internally.
Ensure all employees are aware of the feedback and results and how they are expected to act on it.
Celebrate excellent customer service stories.
Use glowing examples of excellent customer service to boost employee morale and serve as an example for others.
Ensure goals and benefits are realized.
Otherwise, what’s the point? Set goals before you get started for best results.
Make Sure your Customers are Heard
Overall, the VoC is an effective platform for capturing customer feedback.
Companies should implement a VoC strategy in order to discover constant improvements, and as a strategy for growing the bottom line.
How do you define voice of the customer? Tweet @Glia, and we’ll share our favorite definitions!