“The Voice of the Customer (VOC) is a process for capturing customers’ requirements. It produces a detailed set of customer wants and needs which are organized into a hierarchical structure, and then prioritized in terms of relative importance and satisfaction with current alternatives.”
In other words, a Voice of Customer Strategy is a process of collecting details and information from your customers and people who are engaged with and drive your business, to assess business goals and future actions. This includes customer experiences and expectations of your business as well as negative comments and feedback.
Using this ‘voice of the customer’ information to update and improve your business to accommodate customer needs and expectations can ultimately strengthen your position in the market and set you apart from the competition. Using the opportunity from negative comments and feedback to reverse any potentially damaging perceptions of your business, whether created via customer services, online facilities or faulty products, can also help build customer relationships and loyalty whilst again giving your business a stronger identity than that of your competition to ensure business success.
Successfully Capturing VOC
There has been an increase in businesses and brands recognising the importance of listening to customers and actioning changes accordingly as a result of feedback. Multiple points of interaction with the customer can be used to build the VOC and there are two main types of data that contribute to this:
- Reactive Data — mostly collected during natural customer interaction with the business and is usually negative, this is collected via: customer feedback, customer complaints, product returns and/or warranty claims, compliments
- Proactive Data — usually collected via a more structured market research approach: observations and/or test customers, customer interviews, surveys, focus groups
Combining both reactive and proactive methods is the most effective way to gain your VOC; whilst the reactive allows you to pick up on naturally occurring behaviour patterns and potential shortfalls within your business, using proactive methods can help you ‘dig deeper’ and successfully get the all-important ‘why’ from customer’s answers.
The Role of Technology
Gone are the days of waiting for a complaints form to arrive from the customer after having hand-written the nature and detail of their issue. Technology has played a large part in improving access to the Voice of the Customer and bringing the business closer to customers. As well as capturing data via online websites or through an online survey or email, social media also plays a large part in building your VOC.
There are many advantages for businesses using technology to collect data for their VOC, these include:
- Enabling data and customer experiences to be captured instantly in real-time or very shortly after an experience has occurred
- Allows data to be collected in a large volume over a short period of time giving a more robust sample
- Is a more cost effective way of gaining feedback
- Gives an opportunity to recover negative experiences quickly and effectively
- Gives the opportunity to recognise loyal customer behaviour and reward accordingly
- Opportunity to pin-point the cause/factors involved with a particular feedback comment e.g. linking to a time of day/location etc.
- Gives businesses the opportunity to be closer to their customers, quickly engaging and reacting to their behaviour
Technology’s assistance in decreasing the time and increasing the volume of data collection allows analysis and actions to not only be implemented faster but also assists in the communication of changes as a result of this being relayed a lot faster to the customer and with the help of Social Media, a wider customer base can be reached.
Implementing the Voice of Customer Strategy
The Voice of Customer Strategy can be used widely throughout many sections of your business and the key is to act on, rather than sit on the findings you gain from both proactive and reactive data collection to improve your business identity and keep up with the every changing requirements from your customers.
People at all levels of the business are responsible for customer satisfaction in one way or another, giving staff access to the customer feedback (or a condensed version of) will allow them to fully understand the business operations through the eyes of the customers.
From the VOC findings, creating actions and targets for employees based on their job role and customer interaction level will effectively ensure all bases are covered when implementing improvements to your business as a whole. Giving certain members of staff the ability to act on customer feedback in real-time (i.e. via social media channels) will give your business the opportunity to show the customer (and onlookers) an improved service and that your business is really listening.
When choosing a more structured proactive approach to getting VOC data, getting internal stakeholders involved and excited about the concept of VOC will help drive this opportunity as once members of your business are engaged in learning about the Voice of the Customer, they will push for the feedback channels to expand and grow successfully to gain valuable information from customers.
Feeding company actions back to your customers as a result of your analysis is one of the most effective ways to retain loyalty and attention to your business/brand. This little bit of insight goes a long way in terms of showing customers that you do care and are paying attention to their needs.
The Voice of the Customer is at the forefront of businesses development and plays a large part in business survival. Picking up on negative experiences and early signs of potential issues will give your business the head-start to put these right and really focus on what matters to your customers.