To capture rich customer insights, many businesses are going straight to the source — the voice of the customer. They recognize that to provide exceptional brand experiences and superior customer care, they need to understand their customers’ needs and expectations at a deeper level, and it requires listening to them and continually gathering their feedback.
The voice of the customer or VoC is essentially a research strategy that includes collecting, analyzing and interpreting customer data. And while the idea of using the VoC to identify and prioritize customers’ needs has been around for a long time, it’s becoming an increasingly important process for businesses looking to improve customer retention and grow their businesses in a highly competitive marketplace.
This blog takes a closer look at what the voice of the customer is, why it’s important, and how you can lay the groundwork for a successful VoC program. Let’s get started with the basics.
If you want a simple definition of VoC, it’s this: The voice of the customer is what customers are saying about your business.
You can capture VoC insights through any of the channels your customers use to engage with you, including phone conversations, chatbot conversations, emails, texts, social media posts, online reviews, in-person focus groups, and more. VoC data can come directly from customers (e.g., through customer satisfaction surveys) or indirectly (e.g., through analysis of customer transactions).
Within all that communication lies the customer’s thoughts and feelings — positive and negative, overt or subtle — about your business, your products and services, and the customer experience you provide. VoC analysis also takes customer behavior into account, like how they use their products.
Knowing the voice of your customer is critical to understanding customers’ needs and improving your ability to respond to them, and learning how to even anticipate them. This insight can help you enhance your existing offerings, innovate new ones, attract new customers, and increase loyalty among your existing customers.
Overall, if executed well, a VoC program can help you boost customer satisfaction and business growth. Various teams across your organization — including customer experience, customer success, marketing, sales, product development, and even the C-suite — can use relevant VoC insights to improve their strategies.
If you want to use VoC insights strategically to drive specific outcomes, you’ll want to build a formal program. That will help you create structure and consistency around how your business collects, analyzes, interprets, and puts customer feedback into action. It will also help to ensure you are requesting feedback from your customers consistently.
Following are a few of the key steps for developing a successful voice of the customer program:
Your employees will have a hard time hearing or caring much about the voice of the customer if they feel that their own organization doesn’t listen to or care much about them. But employees who are satisfied in their jobs and with their work environment will be more open to listening to (and actually hearing) the voice of the customer and doing their part to help the business respond to it.
There’s a lot that goes into creating a positive organizational culture. But what you’re really striving for here, if you want to “operationalize” the voice of the customer, is creating a collaborative work culture where people share the view that putting the customer first is of paramount importance. Not making products or sales, but driving customer satisfaction. And the point is, you won’t get people to adopt that mindset if they’re dissatisfied themselves.
It would be fantastic if your customers only had nice things to say about your business, its products and services, and its customer experience. However, the reality is, you’re going to get negative feedback from customers. Hopefully not much, but it’s still unavoidable.
Your VoC program won’t succeed if you ignore feedback you don’t like or choose not to act on it. Failure to execute on relevant findings from a VoC program is a missed opportunity to make things right, or simply do better when it comes to customer service and customer care. It could lead to losing business, too, if the issues you choose not to resolve are serious enough, or worsen.
Listening closely to customer feedback can also help you uncover opportunities to increase your market share and grow sales. Consider this example: What if a car dealership has been struggling to sell cars to millennial consumers? The sales team, frustrated by the lack of traction with this demographic group, blames low sales on millennials not wanting to own cars at all.
While there is some truth to that, the dealership learns through VoC research that many of the millennial consumers its sales team has been trying convert don’t want to buy cars because they’re concerned about gas consumption. That dealership might then determine it needs to invest more heavily in hybrid and electric vehicle inventory so it can attract more millennial buyers.
Always, always, always measure the success of your VoC program using viable metrics. Metrics not only tell you if you’re on the right track — they are an integral part of creating a customer journey map. This map provides touchpoints and pain points that the business can use to inform customer care initiatives that drive a better overall customer experience.
The metrics you choose will depend on the purpose of your VoC program, and where and how you want to improve the customer experience using VoC data. For examples of commonly used metrics you may want to use for your VoC program, including the Net Promoter Score (NPS) and Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT), see this post.
A highly efficient way to capture the voice of the customer is through technology. Invoca’s conversation intelligence solution, for example, uses artificial intelligence (AI) to analyze speech from recorded phone conversations and derive data-driven insights from that data. Analysis of this VoC data, which can be obtained in real time, can assist businesses in several ways.
Advertising can be an expensive proposition for any business, even on digital platforms. But by integrating insights gleaned from Invoca’s conversation intelligence solution with your ad platforms, you can better target and, most importantly, personalize your digital ads for better ROI.
For example, you can serve customers ads based on the topics they mentioned in phone conversations. If you’re a car dealership and a customer called to inquire about inventory of the Toyota Rav-4, you could target them with future ads for that vehicle until they scheduled an appointment to visit you.
Another way that VoC can move your business forward is by arming your sales and customer service agents with better scripts to use when talking to customers.
When you use conversation intelligence to analyze your agents’ conversations, you may discover that your high-performers are using different language to explain your products or to handle objects from your customers. Extracting insights from recorded conversations and transcripts can also make it easier to locate teachable moments, ones that can be used to coach your teams in real time to better serve your customers.
Conversation intelligence can also help your teams pinpoint and fix customer experience issues before they become major headaches.
For example, you can pinpoint the exact moments when shoppers choose to call rather than complete their purchase online. Invoca tracks which webpages phone calls were placed from and surfaces key insights from the conversation, such as if they mentioned a CX issue. Teams can then share this information throughout the company so that all departments have transparency into the issue while the relevant department, such as IT, fixes it.
Why else should phone conversations be a center of focus for your VoC program? Because research shows most consumers (68%) would prefer to pick up the phone and talk to someone when they have a question or a problem, rather than use other communication channels like chatbots and emails. Those are a lot of customer voices, and you don’t want to miss hearing what they have to say.
Want to learn more about how Invoca can help you create better digital-to-call experiences for your customers? Check out these resources: