Voice of the Customer: The Beginner’s Guide

What does the Voice of the Customer really mean?

Voice of the Customer is a business and technology term used to describe a process that is designed to capture customer’s expectations, preferences, experiences, and feedback.

Often applied as a market research technique by companies looking to achieve a better and more complete understanding of the customer, VoC can also help your business successfully measure and understand the experiences that you deliver to customers.

Understanding the Voice of the Customer

Put simply, the voice of the customer is a term used to describe your customers’ feedback, which includes their experiences and interactions with your product or service, their expectations, their sentiment and opinion, etc.

As a business, your job is to capture and understand the Voice of the Customer in ways that foster improvement and promote a better understanding of your customers’ desires, wants, needs, and expectations.

In short, the Voice of the Customer should guide and shape the direction of your business strategy.

When you fail to use or harness VoC, you will continue to miss the mark, forcing your customers to seek out other providers whose product or service is better aligned with their spoken (and unspoken) expectations.

Why does the Voice of the Customer even matter? Should you really be listening?

Listening to customers is essential to your growth as a company. After all, knowing your desired customers and fulfilling their quality needs is the key element to a successful business.  

With the voice of the customer as a tool, you can connect and reach customers with your products and services and more effectively meet their needs.  It allows you to maximize profits and identify new ways to improve profits, while also improving customer retention and driving customer loyalty.

Customers want to be heard and it is time for companies to start listening.

How to build a Voice of the Customer program

To listen actively to customers, you need to build an effective Voice of the Customer program.

There are multiple ways to gather Voice of the Customer data. These include customer feedback surveys, ethnographic research, focus group discussions, field reports, individual interviews, and text analytics and sentiment analysis methods, among others.

Keep in mind: it is best if you have an ongoing flow of information rather than have only an occasional way of gathering VoC data (i.e. polling or surveying). Don’t limit your Voice of the Customer efforts to once or twice a year.

Also: survey fatigue is a real thing.  How much time do you really want to spend filling out a lengthy questionnaire in your free time? Well, your customers don’t want to do that, either.

That’s why you should explore all other possible ways of capturing customer feedback and VoC. Be as comprehensive as possible. Some programs offer only customer feedback surveys, while others just focus on social media and online reviews. The best Voice of the Customer program should help you capture and connect multiple kinds of customer feedback and VoC data across multiple touchpoints and channels.

Evaluate your Voice of the Customer data after collecting it. You can’t just gather all this information and let it drop. You can’t ignore negative customer feedback and do nothing except hope for the best next time around. There needs to be a system in place for gathering the VoC data, analyzing it, and acting on the insights that you gain from the data. 

Knowing what your customer now thinks, you can work on creating higher-quality products, more responsive service, and better customer experiences.

The Voice of the Customer can also help you find out what is working well, as well as what isn’t. Being able to identify and isolate this information can change the kind of customer feedback that you may receive down the road.

Don’t facilitate corporate deafness by depending solely on the “great ideas” of the executives in your organization. Even the most experienced of leaders need to understand what it is that drives engagement and keeps your customers coming back time after time.

With a VoC program, you can: 

  • Fine-tune your products, services, and offering in ways that address the voiced needs and wants of your customers
  • Solicit customer feedback to evaluate new ways of gaining a competitive advantage
  • More effectively drive customer satisfaction and loyalty
  • Measure, analyze, and improve customer experience
  • Identify, resolve, and respond to high-impact customer issues, trends, and developments
  • Generate advanced marketing insights and opportunities

Communicating with your customers

Are you communicating clearly back to your customers?  Do they understand your message?  Product flaws and discrepancies are one thing, but customer service that does not actually serve the customer could be disastrous.

After you have taken away insights from your Voice of the Customer data, you need to close the loop and reach back out to customers in ways that they can understand.

Make sure you’re delivering on what you promised, and that you are promising what you are able to deliver.  

Refer to Voice of the Customer data in order to truly understand customer needs and create a plan for this communication. It is back to that old give and take: you know them so that you may serve them.  

To retain the customers you want, you must identify and communicate clearly.  Use positive feedback with the customers yourself.  Don’t use negative language or competition bashing. You want their experience with your company to be pleasant.

A customer’s voice is no  longer a single voice in the crowd. It has power. It is up to your company to follow up and make that voice matter. Take the time to measure your customers’ preferences and aversions and engage your product development and customer provision teams to ensure that every move they make goes toward delivering products and experiences that exceed the needs of your customers.