Guess what’s the best thing you can do for your business?
It’s listening to your customers!
Gartner says that collecting customer feedback increases the success rate of upsell and cross-sell by 22%. Listening to feedback from your customers is one of the most important parts for a business to succeed. The feedback that you get from the customers will have a bearing on the result only when appropriate action is taken to ensure that customer’s issues are solved.
What is Voice of Customer Program? It is a process that captures your customer’s overall experience as well as what they expect when dealing with your company. Improve products and services by analyzing the preferences of the customer to keep them happy. It is a research strategy which is used to discover what your customers think of your business, product or service.
‘Voice of Customer Program’ was coined by Abbie Griffin and John R. Hauser in a 1993 MIT Marketing Science paper, titled “The Voice of Customer”, they described VOC in the below words:
Why do You Need to do Voice of Customer Program?
To be the best in the business, you need to satisfy the all-important customer who drives your business. When you want to keep your customers happy, you need to get regular feedback from them. It is imperative that you understand the voice of the customer. Below are some of the reasons why you need to conduct VoC research:
- Prioritize the needs and preferences of the customers
- Identifying issues that affect the customers deeply
- Find patterns where customer satisfaction is found wanting
- To weed out ineffective processes
- Evaluate new concepts, ideas, and solutions for the business
- Brand Management
When your customers share valuable feedback with you, they want you to listen and act on it so that you could improve your business process. The key to a successful VoC program is one where the company takes appropriate action immediately across different departments in the organization. Some of the best VoC programs will have these characteristics:
- Incorporates the voice of the employee as well
- Aims for clear and actionable feedback
- Enables cohesion between all departments
- Uses analytics to find areas that are found most lacking in terms of process infrastructure
- Has a continuous monitoring program that brings results
Here is a step-by-step process that will help you launch a Voice of the Customer Program to help reach your goals:
Step 1: Create a Strategy
Most business decisions are made with clear-cut objectives in mind. Before you start working on the strategy, you need to see the present state of your business. Are there processes, communication, and strategies that need to be changed for the better? Here are some other questions that you need to ask:
- What is your short-term goal? (6 months- 1 year)
- What is your business’ long-term goal? (up to 4 years)
- What is the reason behind creating a Voice of Customer program?
- How will you measure the success of the program?
- Would you like to know what customers think about your pricing?
No matter what kind of issues your business seems to face, you can build a Voice of Customer program which is entirely focused on these problems and receive solutions directly from customers.
Step 2: Set Objectives
Voice of Customer programs are usually used to identify customer expectations and preferences so that the organization can create the right mix of strategy, culture, products, communication and much more to keep the customers excited and satisfied.
Step 3: Ask the Right Questions
Do not ask questions that are not clear or you will only get a Yes/No answer. You need your customers to answer truthfully and in a fashion where they are giving you relevant feedback. The feedback that you get should be actionable.
For example, instead of asking “Did you have a good experience shopping with us?” ask your customer this-“What can we do to improve your shopping experience?” The best part about such a line of questioning is that your customers are themselves finding a solution to your problem. Their answer is relevant because they have gone through the process of purchasing from you and would be best suited to answer you.
Step 4: Time Your Questions
You do not want to ask a non-customer how their experience with your brand was or ask for feedback from a customer who happened to visit your website for the first time. Ask questions when the customer has had a meaningful interaction with your brand. Speak to your customers casually, get on a call or send them a friendly email without any corporate fluff and ask them point blank.
Step 5: Design the Process
Now that you know the elements that need to be a part of VoC, the next step is to use different methods to reach out to the customer for feedback. Some of the methods include interviewing customers, focus group discussion and reference programs. Also, use automation as much as possible in reaching out to customers, gather their feedback and the analysis can be done and acted upon manually.
Step 6: Measure Results
You can measure CSAT, NPS or even customer loyalty to see how the Voice of Customer program has helped your business, but it is smarter to measure performance metrics that show clear ROI, such as an increase in sales, CLV, upsell and cross-sell. Customers change their opinions, therefore their likes and dislike changes too, so it is imperative that you have a Voice of Customer program that is conducted at regular intervals.
How to Use Data from the Voice of Customer Program
With only the data for your business, do not expect changes to happen unless you go back and make the changes that you thought was necessary after the VoC program. Look for areas where customers have asked for changes, mentioned about pain points and pointed out areas for improvement.
Take the most pressing issue that has been mentioned by many customers and start working on it. What is important to you depends on the kind of industry and business you are in and cannot be assumed arbitrarily. Most of the changes requested would fall under these categories:
1. Improvement of the Product
Getting the questions right is an important factor for the success of the VoC program. Collecting data and analyzing them is equally vital. We keep concentrating on customer experience which can be mostly construed as the experience of the customer during an interaction with your business. Sometimes, it so happens that you don’t give importance to asking questions about the product itself.
Ask questions to your customers on what they feel about the product:
- Are there areas to improve on the product?
- Do they want more features to complement the product? If yes, what do they want?
- Would they be looking out for more products or services which will complement the main product?
You could land on a gold mine based on the answers you get from the customers as they would have a completely different point of view as someone who used the product while you would have totally missed out on observing. Channeling your energy towards the customer’s wants will shape your business success.
2. Communication with the Customers
How would you feel on getting to know that your customers hate the way you interact with them on emails, advertisements, etc? Wouldn’t that be a revelation? Yes, you would like to sell to the customer, but are you making sure that you are using the right words that will strike a chord with the customer?
Convince your potential customers why they need to do business with you, hire a good copywriter who can not only do your website copy but also your ad copy. Explain what makes your brand different and give them compelling reasons to buy from you.
3. Customer Experience
Providing below par customer service is only going to affect you badly as they would not find good words to speak about you and will slowly shift to your competitors who offer them better service. A customer is extremely empowered these days where they can share their experience on multiple platforms. With the data from VoC, you can find out areas that need immediate attention thus helping you step up the customer satisfaction goal and mitigate any complaints from the customers.
4. Take Action
Spending your marketing budget on VoC programs and not acting on it will infuriate your customers. They will come to know that there has been no action taken based on the feedback that they gave. You will lose any trust and goodwill you previously had if you fail in doing this. When you take action, make sure that you inform the customers about what you learned from the feedback and how you plan to take necessary steps. Let the participants know the steps that you took to rectify the issues which were pointed out. There is nothing worse than making your customers spend their precious time on you and then being ignored completely. Do not be that company.
The benefits of VoC are aplenty, it includes faster customer resolutions coupled with improvement in Customer Experience (CX). Working on the feedback from your customers means that it will encourage more spending from customers and help in retention as well.
Receiving a Voice of Customer regularly in an accurate, simple and continuous manner is a huge strategic advantage for a business. Getting to know what customers really want is not an optimal solution rather a mandatory step towards delivering a superior customer service. The value of listening to customers is immediate, measurable and affects the bottom-line. Give your 100% for the Voice of Customer Program and be elated at the results that you get because it is extremely effective.