Even with years of industry experience, vast expertise in your offering, and a firm grasp of the market, there’s still a good chance you don’t know everything your customers and prospects want. In fact, even some of the largest and best-run organizations in the world still grapple with a knowledge gap between the experience they deliver and what their customers desire.
That’s because, unless you’re telepathic, there’s only one way to know for sure what will satisfy buyers and keep them coming back: you have to ask them. And when you’re serving hundreds, thousands, or even millions of individuals, that can be a bit tricky.
Luckily, there’s a strategic solution, and it’s called a voice of the customer program. Here’s how it works, why it’s worth investing in, and a few best practices to help your program succeed.
What is a Voice of the Customer Program?
A voice of the customer (VoC) program is a method for capturing, analyzing, reporting, and applying customer feedback in a way that optimizes your customer experience. Unlike ad hoc surveys and one-off conversations, a VoC uses a highly strategic and well-planned process to gather and evaluate data and disseminate it across the organization so all departments and teams may benefit.
Often, organizations use VoC to gain insight into how customers feel about specific products or services, proposed changes to offerings, or the brand as a whole. This data can be used to improve customer service, enhance product development, and ensure company goals and values align with customer needs.
Why You Should Invest in a VoC Program
Like anything that can create long-term value for your company, establishing a VoC program requires an upfront investment of resources. But, the return on that investment can be astronomical.
Here are a few reasons it’s worthwhile to adopt a voice of the customer program:
Identify issues before they become a crisis
When a brand experiences a crisis, like plummeting sales and poor product reputation, it rarely happens overnight. In most cases, there were rumblings of dissatisfaction for months or even years before buyers began taking their money elsewhere—but key decision-makers weren’t listening. And by the time it’s obvious, it’s too late to fix.
However, a VoC program can help you determine whether there are negative trends and give you the opportunity to correct them before they begin impacting revenue.
Set a performance baseline
Measuring customer satisfaction and engagement can be challenging—especially if you’re not using the same criteria every time. But you can use your VoC program to set a baseline. So long as you continue asking the same questions, you’ll be able to more accurately gauge your performance in key areas.
Support experience optimization and product development
Research and development teams usually have plenty of their own user tests, focus groups, and other types of data-gathering tactics. But VoC data can further enhance their efforts by offering feedback from a broader swath of your customer base. In fact, from customer service to sales and marketing, there’s no part of your organization that wouldn’t benefit from these insights.
It’s well known that the cost to earn new business is greater than the cost to retain existing customers. A VoC program equips you with the knowledge you need to do both, thereby increasing your market share and amplifying your revenue potential.
5 Best Practices for Ensuring Your VoC Program is a Success
Whether you’re launching your first voice of the customer effort or you’re looking to refine an existing program, there are a few things you can do to increase your success. Here are five best practices:
Determine a clear objective
What do you want to know? The answer to this question will serve as the basis for your entire program, so it’s essential you’re as clear as possible. For example, you may want to know why sales have dropped for a specific product or why customer retention has stalled for a particular service. Or, you might want to know what new feature customers desire most so you know where to concentrate your resources.
Select a method and tool for fielding questions
The best technique for asking questions and gathering information will vary between companies. Some organizations prefer to field customer surveys through tools like SurveyMonkey and VWO, while others use follow-up surveys at the end of chat sessions using software like LiveChat. Some companies prefer to leverage social media polls, website feedback forms, or customer reviews, while other businesses like to leverage recorded calls and customer interviews.
Whatever you choose, make sure you’re consistent. Because the platform can impact the results, you won’t get apples-to-apples comparisons if you’re contrasting live chat data against a social media poll.
Designate a team to analyze and decipher feedback data
Some tools have data analysis baked in, but it’s still a good idea to identify who is responsible for gathering and translating data before launching your program. This person or team will need to sift through data to find common themes and pinpoint trends. Without this analysis, it can be hard to turn all your feedback data into actionable insights.
Ensure VoC insights are centralized and accessible
Of course, all the valuable insights in the world won’t matter if you don’t have a reliable way to organize, store, and share that information. A knowledge management system will help you disperse key learnings across the organization so every team can access these insights and begin applying them. Additionally, a knowledge management solution will ensure all employees can return to those insights and reference specific insights when they need them most.
Without knowledge management, the value of your VoC program will be extremely limited and unlikely to drive the results you want.
Support teams in applying this data
Just as it’s imperative you define your objective at the beginning of your program, it’s also essential you provide guidance, support, and clear expectations for teams on how to best apply customer feedback. For example, you may have learned your customers prefer to live chat with a customer service rep rather than talk on the phone. In this case, it might be beneficial for customer service managers to dedicate more agents to chat than calls.
A voice of the customer program can help you unlock long-term customer satisfaction, loyalty, and referral business and ensure you’re investing your resources in the right places. And by using these best practices, you can ensure you’re getting the most from your efforts.