Voice of Customer (VoC)

In order for feedback to become reality, your entire company, from sales to services to product development, needs to view VoC as a priority. This can be a challenge for many organisations, but it’s necessary. Encouragement from management is key for this mindset shift to happen. Departments need to realise the importance of feedback and feel the motivation to act on it. Once this realisation occurs, standards can be set and feedback can flow smoothly.

The “voice of the customer” is a process used to capture the requirements/feedback from the customer (internal or external) to provide the customers with the best in class service/product quality. 

If you look at the way we function as human beings, if you and I are talking, I’m listening to what you are saying and I first need to process what you’ve said before I can respond. Organisations should be striving to build out a foundation that mimics our real-world interactions, where they listen, process what’s been said, and then react. Understand what your customers value and why. Then you have to unleash your people to experiment, think differently, try new things, and fail fast.

VoC overview

Voice of the Customer (VoC) is exactly what you think it is: listening to your customers. VoC consists of initiatives designed to capture customer insights, close the loop on feedback, and prioritise improvements to produce happy and successful clients. Voice of customer encompasses the process of gathering and understanding customer feedback so customer responses directly improve the product and customer experience.

You’re probably thinking, “But this isn’t anything new! Businesses have been listening to customers for years,” and you’re right… sort of.

An ideal Voice of Customer programme will provide business-wide structure for addressing and utilising customer feedback. VoC establishes a strategy that involves the entire organisation so all departments can work together to resolve the problem. This results in a coordinated approach to improving the customer experience, solving challenges, and driving growth for your organisation.

VoC Structure

Why VoC is vital in CX

Voice of Customer helps businesses hone their product or service into something that customers truly want and will continue to invest time and money into.

Products & Services:

  • Unmet market needs

  • New product ideas

  • Missing features

  • Customer satisfaction

  • Perception maps

Instead of just collecting data, VoC focuses on understanding it. Why? Because if you know customers are having problems, it should be your goal to get to the root of it.

Customers understandings and insights to have a clearer understanding of:

  • Customer journey

  • Buying signals

  • Churn indicators

  • Segmentation Influencers, promoters and detractor

On the flip side, if you know where customers are finding enjoyment in your product, you should want to find out why so you can expand on it.

Benefits of VoC

  • Understand customer expectations, needs and pain points

  • Engage current customers and form a connection

  • Retain customers you already have

  • Acquire new customers

  • Improve products and services

  • Research new features and concepts to drive innovation

  • Prioritise issues and features

VoC Programme

Voice of customer programs can include a wide range of tasks, from collecting data, to extracting insights, to putting them to work in your customer lifecycles.

Identify who you are connecting with

  • Before you go sending out surveys left and right, VoC best practices suggest creating customer personas.

  • Building standard personas help to easily define who is involved with your product and the level of their interaction.

  • This will take the guesswork out of finding the right person to answer your questions.

Identify what you want to learn, about your Personas

  • Once you’ve built your personas, it makes asking the right questions a lot simpler.

  • A good rule to keep in mind is to only ask a question that you’re ready and willing to take the initiative to solve.

  • There are two main types of feedback you will be focusing on: direct feedback and indirect feedback.

Devise a way to collect the data

  • This will be dependent on your organisational set up and existing tools.

Collect the data

  • The information gathered in this stage will determine the success of your entire VoC programme.

  • Gathering useful, actionable feedback depends on three things: asking the right person the right question at the right time.

Analyse the data

  • Customer comments - what are they saying.

  • Identify the issue - understanding what your priority needs to be.

  • Customer requirements - what’s the measurable target.

Draw your conclusions, report and act on them

  • This stage focuses on providing value for your customers.

  • Value doesn’t need to be a three-year long process that has to go through multiple approvals and plopped onto an annual plan.

  • When it comes to Voice of Customer, value happens immediately and at a grassroots level.

  • It requires a quick response, strong tactics, and a shared company mindset to truly show customers that you are listening and adapting.

Building blocks for success

Strong Leadership

  • Establishing a customer-centric culture starts at the very top.

  • Without executive level buy-in there is a low probability of creating impact for any customer-centric initiative.

  • You’ll also need to develop the support of lower level leaders to truly move the needle on improving the customer experience.

  • Leaders set the tone for their teams, so if a leader decides that the customer is important, their teams will understand it is a business priority.

Vision and Clarity

  • Your vision for VoC needs to be specific so that everyone within the organisation can easily understand the common goal.

  • Start by focusing on the language and messaging you’ll use to convey your vision.

Engagement and Collaboration

  • An engaged workforce is vital for the long-term success of a customer-centric company.

  • And as employees become more engaged, cross-functional collaboration and synergy will create more impactful and successful customer initiatives.

  • To truly engage your workforce, you have to understand them.

  • The most tried and true method for doing so is by implementing a formal employee experience programme.

Listening and Learning

  • A systematic method for monitoring and collecting customer feedback is key to improving the overall experience.

  • Because customer feedback can be gathered via multiple channels it’s important to build any listening programme on a robust platform that can to pivot with customers as their feedback preferences change.

Alignment and Action

  • Alignment means that all members of an organisation are marching towards the same vision, and each workgroup defines what action they must to take to help realise that vision.

  • Generally speaking, action refers to the measurable steps taken to improve the customer experience.

  • A properly designed root cause and analysis will help you identify what areas to take action on.

Patience and Commitment

  • As much as it pains companies to hear this, building a world-class customer culture is not an overnight exercise.

  • Like it or not, the most successful customer-centric organisations in the world are built in an iterative fashion over a number of years.

  • Customer culture is slowly altered, collection practices are refined, analyses are increased in complexity, and action becomes widespread and aspirational.

  • All along this journey, leadership must demonstrate patience and commitment to the process and vision.

In summary

If your VoC programme isn’t tied to customer success, you’re doing it wrong. Customer success is meant to help your customers achieve their desired outcome while using your product or services. The customer feedback generated through VoC programmes dictates these desired outcomes, making it a crucial component in customer success strategy.

Without a VoC strategy, organisations miss out on valuable opportunities to leverage happy customers and alleviate dissatisfied ones. A business that is truly invested in a VoC programme will listen to every customer, act on their responses, and analyse the data to improve processes.

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