Want a surefire way to provide your customers with the experience they want and need and keep them coming back? Simply, ask them for their feedback, review it, then take action.
There is, however, a little more to winning over your customers.
When approaching the topic of customer feedback, you need a cohesive strategy that allows you to gather, analyze, and act on feedback in a timely manner, across your entire customer journey.
A solid Voice of Customer (VoC) program is what you need. VoC is the representation of all of your customers' feedback, opinions and expectations regarding every aspect of your business.
Why do you need this kind of program? Because by putting the voice of the customer at the center of everything you do, it’s likely that your customer experience (CX) journey will improve. This will make your customers want to continue doing business with you, which will then lead business growth.
This competitive advantage is real.
According to recent studies from Microsoft, only 7% of companies almost always request feedback from customers. The same studies showed that 89% of respondents wanted to give their feedback. That’s a big disparity, and by investing in a VoC program, you can take advantage of it to get ahead of your competitor.
Here we’ll go further into what Voice of the Customer is, cover why VoC is important, and show you how to build your own voice of customer program.
Let’s get started.
Voice of customer is a term that encompasses any kind of customer feedback, whether good, bad, or neutral. It covers any information that tells you what your customer likes and dislikes, and what they expect from your product and your company. It can also be referred to as customer voice.
The feedback described as voice of customer can be gathered in a number of different ways. Some of these include direct channels like surveys and focus groups. It also includes indirect feedback which can be obtained by methods such as social media monitoring.
A Voice of Customer program is essentially a feedback program, but it is a holistic one that describes how your customer feels about your entire customer experience journey, not just one aspect, and listens to them across all channels of communication. This program can also be used to predict how customers might act in the future.
VoC should be used to inform any changes you make to your CX journey. This way any changes you make will have a positive impact for your customer. Voice of Customer should also be taken into account when creating new products and services to ensure there is a need for them.
A cohesive VoC program is one that is backed up with the necessary systems which allows all of your feedback and analysis to be centralized in one place and shared across all levels of your organization, (more on that to come).
By now, you’re probably starting to sense the potential benefits of Voice of Customer, so let’s go through why it is so important in more detail.
The biggest benefits of a Voice of Customer program are customer loyalty and customer retention.
A strong Voice of Customer program leads to loyal customers because it allows you to listen to their needs and provide them with the experience they expect.
You’re using their opinions, likes, dislikes and expectations to shape the products and services you offer them. You can use VoC customer feedback to make improvements to any aspect of your CX. It also lets you tackle individual problem areas before they get out of hand, and make changes that will result in real benefits for your customers.
A good Voice of Customer program also allows you to be proactive, not just reactive. When you understand your customers desires and behaviors, you can anticipate any future needs that they may have, before they even tell you. This might mean creating a product or seeing and resolving potential issues before it impacts them. By being proactive and thinking into the future, you will provide an experience that exceeds your customers’ expectations.
This all leads to loyal customers who are less likely to leave you for your competitors, more likely to recommend you to their friends, and more likely to repurchase. In turn, you’ll likely see an increase in your profits.
Planning and strategy are everything when it comes to building a Voice of Customer program. Before getting started there are a few things you should bear in mind.
For a VoC program to be successful, it’s important to make sure that your leadership team takes charge. If the program is led from the top, people from all departments, across business units are more likely to get on board. This consistent commitment to a customer-centric business will improve the effectiveness of your VoC program.
You should have clear objectives about what you want to achieve with a voice of customer program. Examples of objectives might be to fix problematic areas of your customer experience journey, to enhance your product offerings, or to just keep improving.
Whatever your program objectives are, they should be clearly communicated to all teams so that everyone is on the same page. It’s best if these are communicated from the top down.
You’ll also need to decide exactly how you are going to execute your program. This includes choosing which survey and analysis tools you will use, and which teams to include in the roll out.
You should also have integrated support tools and CRM systems in place. This will help to keep customer service interactions in order and allow you to share VoC data across different teams and departments.
When you are ready to build your program, you’ll need to follow these three important steps:
The first step in any good voice of customer program is listening to your customers. This is where feedback comes in. You should ask for it regularly and at opportune moments.
In order to receive well rounded feedback that addresses the customer experience from different angles, you should collect feedback in different formats across multiple channels. This is also known as omnichannel feedback and it allows you to gain an understanding of your customers’ experience at every moment in your customer journey.
Feedback can be sorted into two categories, direct feedback that you actively seek and indirect which is offered up unprompted by your customers. We’ll take a look at the main methods of gathering customer feedback here.
The classic direct method to collect feedback is via surveys. This includes the Net Promoter Score (NPS) which tracks loyalty, Customer Effort Score (CES) which measures the effort customers feel they have to put into doing business with you, and Customer Satisfaction survey (CSAT) which tracks satisfaction.
All of these surveys can help predict potential customer churn, and are best when used in conjunction with each other.
A big part of listening to your customers is asking the right questions. To maximize the effectiveness of a survey, for instance, you should combine both open-ended quantitative questions with closed-ended, yes/no qualitative questions.
Then, when your customers give you a score or a rating, they’ll also have an opportunity to tell you why they gave you that score. This will give you data that yields richer insights, and which you can then use to tweak areas that are not up to scratch.
Timing is also important when it comes to asking for feedback. You’ll want to make sure that you are requesting feedback both after key touchpoints, and at neutral moments that are not connected to any specific milestone.
A key touchpoint might be following a sale, delivery or a call with a customer service agent. The question you ask your customer at that moment will be directly related to the interaction they have just had.
A neutral touchpoint might look like a survey that is sent every 6 months regardless of how the customer has interacted with your brand. This question will be designed to ask the customer for their overall experience with the organization.
The touchpoint-relevant feedback gives you highly specific insights which can help you enhance or fix certain areas of your customer experience that need improvement.
The more general, neutral question gives you an idea of your customers overall feeling about your company, this can then tell you how likely they’ll be to stick around and how likely they’ll be to recommend your products and/or services to a friend.
In person or over the phone interviews and focus groups are another way to collect direct feedback. These methods are generally targeted to smaller groups for logistics and cost reasons, however they can bring back useful insights. These insights can then also be teased out or tested with larger groups in a survey targeting more people.
A good source of indirect feedback can include web behavior analytics. This kind of feedback can be found where you analyze the way your customers use your website and their purchasing journey.
You can also learn a lot about your customers’ challenges with your products and services by listening to chat transcripts with your customer services team.
Online reviews are useful as customers often go into depth about how they feel. They also don’t tend to hold back, so you can get a lot of honest, detailed feedback. You can also analyze your competitors’ online reviews to see how you compare and how you could be doing better.
Nowadays people are quick to take to social media to air their feelings about a brand, so comments on social media can reveal important insights. Again, this feedback is unsolicited, which means you’ll get honest feedback. You’ll want to capture all of it.
All the feedback in the world won’t help you improve your customer experience if you don’t analyze it for insights.
If you are mainly asking quantitative, close-ended questions, you won't have too much trouble sifting through your data and tallying your results, a simple spreadsheet will do just fine. Analyzing feedback isn’t always that easy though. As we’ve mentioned, the great insights often lie in the details. So, you want to be asking open-ended questions across different channels. When you do this however, the potential for bad data and confusion increases.
The volume of feedback that a good VoC program brings back is also normally high. If you try to process this feedback manually, you’re likely to get errors, and in a lot of cases it’s simply impossible to do so. It’s also important to make sure that your data is free of any subjectivity and bias from the people processing it.
All of this can be countered with the right VoC analysis tools that help you centralize, analyze, and visualize all of your feedback results and insights in one place.
MonkeyLearn can help you with each step of your VoC analysis.
Sign up to try our voice of the customer analysis tools, which can help you analyze reams of data in seconds.
Then, with our studio dashboard you, and your team, can consolidate your VoC feedback and insights to get a single, cross-channel view of the customer.
Try out our demo dashboard (pictured below) to see for yourself.
It’s worth stressing the importance of having all of your data in a place that all of your people can easily view. As we’ve covered, to make your voice of customer program successful, you’ll need to get the whole team on board, regardless of their role. Your people are likely to be more engaged in the cause if they can see results that are easy to understand.
You also need to see insights in real time so that you can act promptly. Often feedback can bring up issues that require urgent action. You can also save costs by preventing less serious issues from turning into bigger issues if you deal with them right away.
For this reason it’s crucial to have systems and tools in place that allow you to process your data for insights and let you see them quickly and in real time.
The final step in your voice of customer program is acting on the feedback and implementing changes based on the insights you gained from your analysis stage.
This step is crucial to the success of your VoC program, and as we mentioned above, it’s essential that your management team leads the way here. You need everyone to do their part to make the changes happen and keep your customers centered in all business decisions.
The great thing about a VoC program is that it covers all areas of your business. So changes you make could be in any area of your process, from organizational to customer service processes and product improvements to delivery.
VoC insights show you the aspects of your customer experience journey that are working well and that need attention. By learning from and then acting on these insights, you’ll be able to improve the areas of your business that are lagging behind.
When you respond to customer feedback and make these improvements you are closing the feedback loop. This lets your customer know that you have heard them and that you care enough to follow through. This means a lot to customers and will likely translate into increased loyalty.
This increased loyalty plus the positive change you are making across your business will then likely lead to increased profits.
Effectively harnessing Voice of Customer could mean the difference between retaining your customer or not. Putting in the effort to hear what your customers are saying, analyzing that information, and then actively using it to make your products and services better, is a good way to make your business grow.
The success of your program will however depend on your tools and systems. Choosing AI backed tools like MonkeyLearn that help you analyze your data in seconds, and that allow you and your teams to visualize your insights in one place, will make all the difference.
Sign up to MonkeyLearn today to start building your power Voice of Customer program and to get more out of your customer feedback.
December 3rd, 2021