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How to understand the Voice of the Customer and take action on it

Jeremy DSouza
|
14
min read
How to understand the Voice of the Customer and take action on it

Have you ever wondered what your customers think about your brand? Ever wanted to know how they perceive you? Have you ever wished that you could get into their heads and understand what they want, what they expect from you and what issues they are facing using your offerings?

There’s a way to get the answers you’re looking for. There’s a way for you to understand your customers. There’s a way for you to glean the insights you need in order to give your customers what they want, what they need and what they deserve!

It’s called the Voice of the Customer.

What is Voice of the Customer?

The Voice of the Customer (VoC) is essentially the customers’ opinions on your organization, brand, offerings and the the experiences you create for them.

It involves everything from their perception of your brand and offerings to the problems they face, not just with using your solutions, but in areas related to your offerings.

If you know what your customers are thinking, how they’re feeling, and what they’re going through, you’d be in a better position to create offerings and experiences that actually work for them.

And that’s where a Voice of the Customer program comes in. A VoC program is an effective tool for understanding your customers, their expectations, and their troubles.

Why is the Voice of the Customer important?

Customer retention rates with and without VoC

Listening to the voice of the customer brings you many benefits. Some of these benefits include:

1. Recognizing customer expectations

There’s a lot that customers would like you to do for them. There are many things that they would expect from your organization and your offerings. 

But you can’t hope for an epiphany. You need to have a system in place that helps you listen to your customers and comprehend their expectations.

2. Understanding customer complaints

Customer complaints are not necessarily bad. In fact, customers who complain and challenge you can be your most valuable customers. These are the customers who push you to improve and innovate. These customers are catalysts for your business’s growth. 

An effective voice of the customer strategy will help you understand not just the surface complaint, but also the deeper reason behind those complaints. It will help you drive real change for your customers.

3. Reducing customer churn

What’s the easiest way to increase customer retention? It’s to show them that you genuinely care about them.

And you can’t expect to say that you truly care about the customers you serve if you don’t listen to them. You can’t give them what they want unless you hear their voice.

Research by Bain & Co and by The Aberdeen Group have both shown that implementing an effective voice of the customer program tends to result in 55% increase in customer retention.

4. Increasing revenue

The Aberdeen Group has also noticed that organizations that have a powerful VoC program in place see a 10x greater year-over-year growth in annual revenue.

When you use the right voice of the customer tools and use the data right, you’ll notice the rise in revenue as a result of the reduction in customer churn. You’ll also notice that your customers turn into evangelists when you give them what they want.

Moreover, listening to the voice of the customer will allow you to identify cross-selling opportunities by understanding your customers’ pain points.

5. Leaving your competition in the dust

When you truly understand what your customers are looking for, you’ll automatically be ahead of all your competitors who aren’t leveraging making use of a voice of the customer system. 

Your innovation will be driven in the right direction. You won’t be wasting time trying to build things that your customers don’t even want.

6. Focusing on the things that matter

Now you’re designing and building for the customers. You’re not just making assumptions. You’re actually listening to them. 

This allows you to streamline your operations and focus your resources in the right places.

7. Understanding how customers perceive your brand

You may have an idea of what you’d like people to think about your brand. You might know what you want your brand to stand for. But you need to know what the world actually thinks about it.

Do their perceptions match your vision for your brand? Is there something you need to change? What can you do to strengthen or change their perception of your brand?

These are questions you will only be able to answer once you have an idea of what your customers think. 

How does a VoC program help your customers?

Making use of voice of the customer software and data results in a win-win situation. Both you and your customers benefit from it.

Here are the two main benefits that your customers receive from your usage of VoC data:

1. They get the solutions that they actually want

Customers are tired of having to hunt all over to find the product or service that they want. It takes a lot of effort. So, its a huge relief when you’ve actually got what they’re looking for.

The upside for you is that once they find a vendor that gives them what they want, they’ll keep coming back. After all, when wants to make the effort of finding a new one?

2. Creates a better experience for them

The data you gather will show you which issues your customers are the most concerned about. It’s very possible that you’ll find out about problems that you never thought about. Or maybe you’ll find that your customers care a lot about an issue that you considered trivial. 

Either way, the voice of the customer will guide you as your craft and enhance your customer experience. It will help you give your customers what they’re yearning for. And that makes it even more likely that they’ll tell the people in their circles about you.

What do you need in order to build a strong VoC program?

1. Leadership focused on the customer

You need a leadership team that’s looking out for the customer. They need to understand that treating the customer right, understanding them on a deeper level and giving them what they want will make a major difference. 

Everyone from the senior leadership to the lower level management should be convinced that understanding customers will drive the innovation needed for the organization to grow.

2. Customer-centric culture

Customer-centricity should run deep in the organization’s veins. In addition to the leadership team, the employees should also develop a focus on the customer and a passion for solving their problems.

3. Patience

This may very well be the most important requirement. You can’t expect to see results immediately. Understanding your customers is a continuous process. Their needs, tastes, and wants keep changing.

You can’t expect to look at the very first set of data you get and hope to get mind-blowing results. You need to stick with it.

Don’t go in hoping for quick results, end up getting disappointed, and then scrap the entire project. You need to give it time in order to get the best results.

What are the best practices for building and using a Voice of the Customer program?

1. Set well-defined goals

That’s where it all starts. Decide what you expect to get out of the program, what you hope to use the data gathered for, and what results you would like to see after using the data. 

You need to set goals. Do you want to increase your market share? Or maybe you’re trying to increase customer lifetime value. Whatever it is, make it clear right at the beginning.

2. Collaborate across departments

Share data across departments. Don’t operate in silos, work together. You may need to have departments working together to collect VoC data, analyze it, and make decisions based on it.

3. Multichannel data collection

It’s not enough to collect data over a single channel. The Aberdeen Group strongly suggests collecting data across multiple channels.

Engati can help you with that. You can use our services to collect data over 14 chat channels, including Messenger and WhatsApp.

4. Dig Deeper

Understanding what your customers are saying and what they’re complaining about is good. But it’s always better to go beneath the surface. You need to try to find out why they’re saying what they’re saying.

Identifying the root cause of their issue will help you create more effective solutions for your customers.

5. Share insights across departments

VoC insights should not be restricted to a single department. They need to be shared across all the departments that can use them. Sales, Marketing, Customer Success, Product Design - all these teams could benefit from the voice of the customer data. Sharing the data is the key to driving innovation.

Steps involved in building an effective voice of the customer program

Steps to build a voice of the customer program

1. Planning

Here’s where you map out the program and decide what you aim to achieve and how you plan on achieving it.

A. Setting goals

Before anything else, you need to decide what results you want this program to bring you. You can’t just create a voice of the customer system for the sake of creating one. You need to set goals that will help you decide how to execute it.

B. Survey design

After setting your goals, you’re going to have to decide about the questions you want answered, the channels over which you wish to collect data and the tools you’re going to use to analyze that data.

2. Gathering data

This can involve sending the survey, receiving responses, and basically collecting the data through whichever methods you chose.

3. Analyzing the data

Make use of data correlation, Natural Language Processing, Sentiment Analysis, etc. to get into your customers’ minds. 

Use this data to understand which issues your customers care the most about, what they think about your brand, and what they expect from you.

Draw conclusions and figure out a plan of action.

4. Taking action

Use these insights to drive change and innovation. Focus on the things that matter the most to your customers and give them what they want from your organization.

5. Analyze the effectiveness of your actions

See how useful the insights and actions have been in achieving the goals that you set. Understand that listening to the voice of the customer is not a one-time thing.

You need to keep going back and continuously make conscious efforts to listen to your customers and give them what they want.

8 Ways to collect voice of the customer data

How to collect voice of the customer data?

You should try to collect data about from multiple sources so that you get a well-rounded view of what your customers want from you. Here are a few of the methods you can use to collect voice of the customer data.

1. Chat-based surveys

Use chatbots and live chat systems to engage with your customers in their own language, thus putting them at ease and in a state to give you higher quality responses.

With chat systems, you can broadcast a survey to your customers over 14 chat channels, including Messenger and WhatsApp. A chatbot could handle the basic questions and you could rope in a live chat agent when you require detailed information. 

These live agents can help you dive deeper and get to the root of the issues that your customers are facing. Rather than just solving minor surface-level problems, you could actually fix the underlying issues that are causing them.

The dashboards available with Engati’s chat systems can even help you analyze your data, see which responses you get most frequently and help you decide on which customer issues need to be addressed on priority.

2. Email surveys

You could send emails to your customers, either with questions directly included in them or with links to a survey you designed. If its a smaller set of respondents, you could even personalize the questions that are directly included in the email.

3. Social listening

Here’s how you find out how your customers and the world at large perceives your brand. You get to find out what they think about your organization, what they’re saying about it and the overall sentiment of your customers towards your brand.

Bear in mind that you may see extremely positive or negative comments about your brand and while it is important to keep them in mind, you need to look at the bigger picture. Don’t look at an individual post, look at aggregates. 

Social media can be a powerful tool to help you understand the audience sentiment, but you need to know that the larger you are, the more extreme opinions you are likely to find.

4. Website heatmaps and visitor recordings

Website heatmaps and visitor recordings show you how your visitors behave on your website. They show you where they click, how much they scroll, which parts of your website are ignored, etc.

This allows you to enhance and optimize your website and your digital experience for your customers.

5. Focus groups

They have been part of marketing research for ages and need no introduction. Focus groups can be powerful to understand what varied groups of customers think about your brand and/or your products and how they will respond to your offerings. But you need to be careful with them.

6. Neuromarketing studies

As I mentioned, focus groups can be effective, but they have their flaws. Focus groups very often tend to be replete with lies. What respondents say doesn’t always match with what they mean or how they feel.

There can be a number of reasons behind this: sometimes they give you the answer that they think you want from them, sometimes they would rather share an answer that would make them fit in with the others, sometimes they give an answer that doesn’t match how they really feel because they think it’s inconsistent with their image.

In a neuromarketing study, you could use an fMRi (functional MRI) or an EEG to give you an idea of which parts of their brains are getting activated while thinking about or seeing images of your product/brand. 

Now, armed with the knowledge of the functions usually associated with those areas of the brain, you could get a clearer picture of their feelings towards your brand and offerings.

7. Feedback forms

You could set up a dedicated feedback form on your website for visitors and customers to share their thoughts, feelings, and experiences with your brand and organization. 

8.Online reviews

Reviews left on Google, Amazon, and even websites like Capterra (for software vendors) can give you a good idea of how your customers feel.

What  kind of questions should you include in a Voice of the Customer survey?

While designing your voice of the customer program, you need to figure out what kind of information would be the most useful to you.

Based on the goals you set at while conceptualizing your program, you can come up with questions for your customers. 

If your goal was to increase market share, you could ask questions regarding their thoughts about your products, their perceived quality, and how easy they are to use.

You should also ask them what they think about your competitors’ offerings, how yours compare, how they think your offerings are better than the competition and where they are lacking.

If you wish to increase customer retention and lifetime value, you should ask customers how they feel about your service, the experience you’ve created for them and how they think you could improve it.

What can you do with the voice of the customer data?

What can you do with voice of the customer (VOC) data?

The data and insights that you derive from your voice of the customer program can help your organization in a variety of ways. It won’t just help your customer service team, a lot of departments within your organization can benefit from this information.

Here are a few areas in which you can use these insights to your advantage:

1. Product development

The customers have revealed their troubles and their preferences. This data is essentially a gold mine for you.

You can say sayonara to the guessing game — no more shooting in the dark and hoping to create a product that your customers might like. Now you know what they want and you can conceptualize and create product lines that give them what they want.

2.  Marketing

Now that you have their responses stored with you, you can essentially use a very powerful negotiation technique in your marketing material - mirroring.

You know what words your customers tend to use, now you can repeat those very same words in your marketing communications. This will make your marketing campaigns far more effective, simply because your audience can relate to them in a stronger manner.

Psychologists say that we like people who are like us. Using the words they tend to use makes your audience think that you are more like them. Even hostage negotiators use mirroring, why shouldn’t you use it in your marketing material?

3. Reputation management

By listening to the voice of the customer, you can find out what your customers truly think about your brand. You get insights into how they perceive you.

If their views match the vision you have for your organization, keep powering through.

But if they don’t, you may need to make changes that you had no idea were necessary. The best thing - your customers may very well suggest the changes that you need to make when telling you what they expect from your organization.

4. Customer journey

Customer complaints will show you where you’re going wrong and where you need to improve. They’ll direct your attention towards the parts of your customer journey that are broken, inefficient, or downright unnecessary.

Listening to the voice of your customers allows you to streamline your customer journey.

5. Customer experience

These improvements won’t just be limited to the customer journey. The data you gather through the voice of the customer program will help you dramatically improve your overall customer experience.

You’ll be able to identify, focus on, and fix the key concerns that your customers have regarding their experience. That will allow you to smoothen all the ditches in your experience, minimizing the odds for a customer to have to endure a negative experience.

But, you’ll also be able to identify the strongest positive elements of your experience and accentuate them. Create higher peaks and wow moments so that they’re what your customers remember after their interaction with your organization is over.

Speaking of memory, you will also be able to glean insights into which part of their customer experience was the most memorable to them. Was the most intense emotion that they felt during the entire experience a positive one or a negative one? 

If it was a negative one, ask yourself what you can do to turn it into a positive experience. Or could you just outright eliminate that part of the experience and replace it with a positive one?

For example, at Disney World, visitors are essentially promised a magical experience. But there’s nothing quite magical about having to wait in the admittance line for a ridiculous amount of time with frustrated (and hungry) kids complaining all around you.

First, they decided to turn the negative experience into a positive one by having their cast dress as Disney characters and interact with the kids.

Next, they decided to eliminate the negative experience by introducing Magic Bands. They gave guests the opportunity to curate their entire experience, all the way down to choosing the exact time when they want to hop on a particular ride or eat at a certain restaurant.

Listening to the voice of the customer can point you in the right direction to improving both, your customer experience and their memory of that experience. Essentially, that means that you get to keep them coming back to you, as well as tell others about you.

Take a step towards understanding your customers

It’s time to make the effort to listen to your customers. Hear their voice and find out what they truly want from you.

Engati can help you with this. Our intelligent chat systems can help you collect customer insights in both a personalized and an efficient manner.

Try our platform out and begin your journey towards listening to the voice of your customers for free, no credit card needed. Sign up here.

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