Imagine the internet to be a huge shopping mall. Do you know whose voice would be the loudest in that mall?
Not businesses. Not marketers. It would be that of customers.
In a business equation, the weight is always in favor of the customers. The cliche statement that “The customer is always right.” … always right.
Imagine the positive influence a business can have to its bottom line if they can tune into the voice of the customer.
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 that they have and the experiences that they have got from the business through 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 the business.
Voice of customer captures the overall sentiments and customer loyalty that the customer has towards the business.
Visualization of VOC 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 easily and quickly than ever before.
They are able to gauge their customers’ sentiments instantly and take remedial actions that will help the business become customer-centric in the long-term.
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.
It this diverse mode of collecting facts that 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 ad its specific nature.
For example, customer feedback collected through in-app surveys and those collecting in-store would very 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 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 understand the loopholes in customer service that can be improved in the near future.
2. In-app surveys:
Since 2013 until 2019, mobile traffic has grown by a staggering 222% (Source).
With 4G and 5G connectivity becoming mainstream, the volume of mobile traffic is expected to surge higher in the coming days.
On-demand services that are largely mobile-based have also created a new economy of sorts. As a result, in-app surveys have also become popular among businesses to better understand their customers.
In-app surveys help businesses 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 the reliance on support agents.
Also, live chat software can also segment the queries that customers ask into several segments making it easier to provide contextual customer support.
For VOC it gives 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 the 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 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
Wouldn’t it be great if you are able to capture every single action and interaction that your customers have on your website?
Well, heatmap analysis provides the way for that. 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 should give 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 takes place over the 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 sift 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.
7. Net promoter score®:
Net promoter Score® is a customer feedback mechanism that tried to answer one question — what the likelihood of customers referring the business to their near and dear?
NPS® is scored as an absolute value in between -100 and 100. Higher the NPS ® score, the higher customer loyalty is the generally accepted assumption.
NPS® also helps register the overall sentiments customers have towards your brand. Unlike other metrics and channels.
which require some level of analysis and interpretation, the NPS® gives a straightforward understanding of the voice of the customer.
Why listening to VOC matters
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 perspective by both sides.
Today, most business communication is virtual. Businesses rarely have the opportunity to meet and greet customers to deliver personalized customer support.
That can lead to unintended communication breakdown.
Voice of the customer puts into effect an active listening process through which businesses can understand what customers are going through and what needs to be done to meet their expectations ad improve their experience.
If you are still unconvinced, here are some solid reasons why you must tune into your voice of the customer.
1. Integrate insights from customers into decision-making
Every business wants to listen to its customers and take corrective measures. Voice of customers give 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 business more appealing to customers.
2. Understand customer expectations better
Irrespective of the good intentions that the business has, it may not be able to deliver what the customer is expecting. This could probably because the business is unaware of what the real customer expectations are. VOC helps understand customer expectations better.
3.Reduce customer churn
A reduction in customer churn is eventual when the business offerings are in tune with customer expectations. Voice of the customer gives the business many channels through which they can listen to customer opinions and feedback.
4. Identify positive reviews that can be promoted
Positive reviews and customer testimonials are hard to come by. Voice of customer creates a consolidated channel where such positive reviews and testimonials can be found. Such reviews can be used in your website, landing pages, mobile app down pages, and other destinations where customer buy-in may have to be sought.
5. Encourage customers for co-creation
The best products are not always built by businesses. Sometimes customers contribute ideas that can help businesses make the product better or even the way it is meant to be. After all, it is customers who have a better understanding of how the product works, how it solves their problems, and how better it can be. Voice of customer contributes to that priceless learning from customers.
Benefits of a Voice of Customer program
According to Chuck Schaeffer, the Go to Market Leader at IBM, “Voice of the Customer (VoC) programs have become a strategic asset for most forward-thinking and customer-centric CEOs, CMOs and customer experience leaders.”
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.
They have reaped countless benefits by inculcating the Voice of Customer program into their businesses.
Here are four of them that your business can possibly achieve by listening to Voice of Customer.
- Improves customer service
- Enhances brand management
- Leads to product development & innovation
- Improves marketing efficiency
1. Improves customer service:
Like life-long learning, there is no end to customer service improvement. Voice of customers brings to surface untold problems and challenges your customers could be facing.
It acts as a channel to vent out their pent-up frustration of something not working properly or a department or service that needs improvement.
Take for instance, in a retail store like IKEA, customers will find it difficult to locate products. They need an assistant to locate it for them or a guide that can take them there.
Voice of the customer can expose such intricate shortcomings in customer service that normal customer feedback systems may not provide.
2. Enhances brand management:
A brand is different from an ordinary business for the additional value it provides. Take, for instance, Apple.
There are countless other computing devices manufacturers.
But, Apple stands out from all of them for the immense value it provides in terms of design, features, and customer service.
It literally anticipates what customers expect from them and delivers on it.
For businesses that aspire to become the Apple of their industry or sector, Voice of Customer can give insights about customer behavior that they can act upon.
3. Leads to product development & innovation:
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 about GoPro products, best settings, their pros, cons, 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. Improves marketing efficiency:
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.
Like said before, Voice of customer compiles all possible customer reviews and testimonials under one roof.
It makes it for the marketing team to pick and use customer endorsements as and when needed. This helps in improving marketing efficiency.
In a nutshell
The Voice of the customer could be an unknown concept to many business owners. It goes beyond the realms of customer support, customer feedback, and experience. It is best considered as a combination of the expectations customers have from businesses and the experiences that they have got.
If thoroughly analyzed, it can give a business enough insight into how they can improve their services. In a way, it is a ladder to elevate a business from being ordinary to an extraordinary brand.