Imagine the internet to be a huge shopping mall. Do you know whose voice would be the loudest in that mall?
Not brands. Not marketers. It would be that of the customers.
In a business equation, the weight is always in favor of the customers. The cliche statement that “The customer is always right.” is always right.
Imagine the positive influence a brand can have on its bottom line if it can tune into the voice of the customer.
So, what is Voice of Customer (VOC)?
The Voice of Customer (VOC) is made up of two things — experiences and expectations.
VOC is a term that is used to describe the experience and expectations that customers have from a customer.
They voice their take on the expectations they have from the brand and the experiences they receive from the brand through customer feedback.
But, what is the difference between the voice of the customer and customer feedback?
So, is customer feedback and VOC one and the same?
Customer feedback is the actual customer reviews, ratings, and testimonials that a customer gives for a brand.
Voice of customer captures the overall sentiments and customer loyalty that the customer has towards a brand.
Why does listening to Voice of Customer matter?
Be it in business or everyday communication, active listening plays a major role.
Active listening is what results in effective communication and understanding of each other’s perspectives.
Today, most business communication is virtual. Brands rarely have the opportunity to meet and greet customers to deliver personalized customer support.
This can lead to unintended communication breakdown.
That’s where Voice of Customer comes in.
Voice of the customer leads an active listening process through which brands can understand what customers are going through and what needs to be done to meet their expectations and improve their experience.
If you are still unconvinced, here are some solid reasons why you must conduct an analysis of the voice of the customer.
- Understand customer expectations better
Irrespective of the good intentions that the brands have, they may not be able to deliver what the customer is expecting. This could probably be because they are unaware of what the real customer expectations are. That’s where the voice of customers can be used to understand user and client expectations better.
- Integrate customers’ expectations into decision-making
Every brand wants to listen to its customers and take corrective measures. The voice of the customer gives proper insight into what customers feel and sets the management to think in that direction. It could lead to a new product release, a feature update, or even a pricing change that can make the brand more appealing to customers.
- Reduce customer churn
The customer churn is reduced when the brands’ offerings are in tune with the customers’ expectations. And the voice of the customer gives the brand many channels through which they can listen to customers’ opinions and feedback.
- Identify positive reviews that can be promoted
Positive reviews and customer testimonials are hard to come by. Voice of the customer creates a consolidated channel where such positive reviews and testimonials can be found. And they can be used in websites, landing pages, and other destinations where customer buy-in may have to be sought.
- Encourage customers for co-creation
The best products are not always built by businesses. Sometimes customers’ contributions can help businesses identify what is missing from the product. After all, it is the customers who have a better understanding of how the product works, how it solves their problems, and how better it can get. Ergo, you can learn valuable information by listening to the voice of the customer.
Voice of Customer – Visualization at various stages
It is only in recent years that VOC has got maximum tractions.
Thanks to online communities, website reviews, and several other virtual mechanisms, businesses are now able to gather customer feedback more easily and quickly than ever before.
So, what are the channels through which VOC can be captured?
VOC is not a single touchpoint in the marketing or sales funnel. Instead, it is a culmination of facts gathered from multiple sources or channels.
This diverse mode of collecting facts makes VOC an excellent yardstick of customer satisfaction and loyalty.
It ensures that the ultimate understanding of customers is not biased based on a single source and its specific nature.
For example, customer feedback collected through in-app surveys and that collected in-store would vary vastly.
However, combining them both to arrive at a common understanding about customers would be vastly different.
Like in-store and in-app surveys, there are several channels through which VOC can be captured.
Some of them are described below:
1. Customer interviews:
The oldest trick in the customer service playbook!
Customer interviews are direct interactions with customers — be it online or offline, that aims to capture the customer’s feedback.
The customer is quizzed on what expectations they had about the product and how the experiences that they had fared against it.
Customer interviews give an elaborate understanding of the transactions that the customer had with the business and what occurred at each stage. It is an excellent way to conduct a voice of customer analysis and understand the loopholes in customer service that can be improved in the near future.
2. In-app surveys:
Post the pandemic, the volume of mobile traffic has surged!
And for those brands, in-app surveys help them gather customer feedback about a specific app feature or service while the customer is using them.
3. Live chat
Think of live chat as an all-time available customer support agent.
They can provide website visitors with relevant information that helps prevent reliance on support agents.
Also, live chat software can also segment the queries that customers ask making it easier to provide contextual customer support. They give insights into the most frequently asked questions, frequently posed customer support topics, and even feature asks that can improve the product.
4. Social media polls
Unlike every other channel, where customer interaction is more or less one-way, in social media, customer interaction is two-way.
Using built-in features that most social media channels like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and others offer, it is possible to create polls that capture the voice of the customer.
The polls could include everything from customer response to a recently launched marketing campaign, the popularity of an app feature, or even a measure of brand loyalty.
5. Heatmap analysis
Heatmap analysis identifies areas on your websites where there is maximum dwell time, clicks, and other user actions.
In short, it highlights website sections where the user spends maximum time. This gives enough insights into why customers prefer sections of a website, what needs to be improved in those sections to make it easier for them to find and consume information.
6. Call transcription
Despite the massive proliferation of live chat, chatbots, and websites, there is still a large chunk of customer interactions that take place over voice calls.
Phone support is perhaps the most favorite of all customers since it provides direct and personalized customer support.
These phone interactions are a gold mine for analysis and introspection.
Call transcription and voice analytics enables businesses to sort through call records of customers and spot the most commonly used phrases, customer sentiments while on call, etc. with which they can capture the voice of the customer.
Benefits of a Voice of Customer program
Voice of customer promotes customer-centricity as organizational culture.
It is common knowledge that customer-centricity is the fuel that powers popular brands like Zappos, Southwest Airlines, Nordstorm among many others and their keen effort has become good case studies of the voice of the customer.
So, here are four of them that your business can possibly achieve by listening to Voice of Customer.
1. Improved Customer Service
Like life-long learning, there is no end to customer service improvement. Voice of Customer brings untold problems and challenges to the surface that your customers are facing.
It acts as a channel to vent out their pent-up frustration about something that might not be working properly or a department or service that needs improvement.
For instance, in a retail store like IKEA, customers find it difficult to locate products. They need an assistant to locate it for them. But how will IKEA know that its customers are facing such problems?
Voice of Customer helps them through it.
2. Enhanced Brand Marketing
Why did Apple succeed?
There are countless other computing devices manufacturers. Why do people choose Apple over any other brand?
Because it’s not just about the product. It is about what the brand represents.
That’s the kind of market Apple has created.
It literally anticipates customers’ expectations and delivers on them.
For brands that aspire to become the Apple of their industry, Voice of Customer is the answer!
3. Product Development and Innovation with customer insights
Do you know how GoPro, the action camera manufacturer manages to nail customer experience with each new product release?
They listen to customers through their dedicated community and forums.
These communities which are co-created by customers are hyper-active with discussions about hacks, best settings, pros, and everything under the sun about GoPro.
Incidentally, customers also point out the shortcomings in these products, which GoPro goes on to fix in its upcoming products. The end result?
A strong brand from which competition cannot steal customers. This co-creation with customers has also made GoPro far advanced in product development and innovation.
4. Enhanced Word of Mouth
When it comes to showcasing the trustworthiness of a brand, nothing works better than social proof. Social proof consists of customer testimonials, reviews, star ratings, and similar endorsements.
And Voice of customer compiles all possible customer reviews and testimonials under one roof. So that the marketing team can pick and use customer endorsements as and when needed to build the brand’s capability.
In a nutshell
If thoroughly analyzed, the Voice of the Customer can give brands remarkable insight into how they can efficiently improve their product services.
It is a ladder to elevate a business from being ordinary to an extraordinary brand.