You don’t need to rely on guesswork if you’re trying to understand your customers. There are some tactics to dig into your customers’ thoughts and opinions about your business.
Voice of customer or VoC is a business intelligence methodology that uses various tactics to connect with your customers and understand their thought processes. These tactics, such as interviews or surveys, could be straightforward or indirect, such as social listening and user behavior analytics.
When using insights from VoC, the sky’s the limit. Any areas of your business, from product planning to customer retention, could be informed by VoC.
Let’s dive deeper and see what VoC could be collected and how it could be used in your business.
What is Voice of Customer (VoC), and why should you use it?
Voice of Customer (VoC) is a highly effective research methodology businesses use to collect customer feedback and insights. It consists of strategies and techniques to understand customer expectations and their experience.
VoC helps you visualize the gap between your product and customer expectations. Using VoC methodologies, you can understand your customers’ mindset and start thinking like them, almost like a strong connection between old friends.
It uses various traditional and modern data collection methods to understand customer perspectives. Once collected, these ideas and feedback are forwarded to management to create an action plan.
VoC can also assist in prioritizing critical issues for the next development cycle and gauging your product’s performance in the market.
Okay, but is it required?
As per this Statista report, over 90% of organizations use VoC to enhance their customer experience. If you aim to improve your customer’s experience, you must add VoC to your project pipeline.
Understanding your customers is incredibly important for businesses. Customer experience and optimization services were estimated to generate $7.6 billion in 2021. And it’s projected that it will reach $11.2 billion by 2026, as per this Statista report.
How do you collect customer information?
Ways to collect Voice of Customer (VoC):
Let’s review some channels you can use to collect customer data and feedback:
1. CRM and marketing management tools:
You can use your CRM to develop holistic customer insights. Customers whose records are already in your CRM can also be contacted by your sales team and provide feedback over calls.
This saves time and lets you understand your most valuable customers’ opinions.
CRM tools like Salesforce can also be connected via API to marketing tools like Encharge to generate customer insights. This way, you don’t have to put in the manual effort to bridge KPIs from 2 different datasets. You can use these tools to measure metrics such as Net Promoter Score (NPS), Customer Satisfaction Score (CAST), and Customer Effort Score(CES), which can help you measure customer satisfaction.
What’s more, you can use CRM with email marketing tools to track email campaign metrics, i.e., open rate, click-through rate, email sharing/forwarding rate, etc. These numbers make it easy to measure the effectiveness of your marketing strategies.
You can also use support tickets, logs, and customer-raised incidents to identify and target recurring issues. This allows you to perform a churn analysis, which can be useful for determining proactive measures for customer retention.
Check out the Salesforce and Encharge integration to learn more about how you can use email marketing with your CRM.
2. Customer interviews
This is a more direct way of collecting customer data than gathering insights from your CRM data. Of course, it also creates a clearer picture of your customer’s state of mind.
Personal interaction is the best for identifying customer-specific issues. Moreover, one-on-one customer interviews often reveal micro and macro trends for the product.
You can consult your support and customer success teams for this. They’re the ones who can give you the inside scoop on your customers’ gripes and thoughts. They are also the ones who can provide you with the list of customers who you should contact.
Along with your help desk, you can also enrich your data with your CRM to segment customers based on factors such as purchase history, demographics, and engagement level. This would make it easier for you to identify target segments and create a shortlist.
A typical customer interview starts with the interviewer’s introduction. Once the niceties are out, you can move on to general questions such as “what do you know about the company?” And “how does your product affect their lives?”
After the customer is comfortable answering these basic questions, you can start narrowing down the interview topics based on your priorities and goals.
For example, you can start by asking – What business issues do you need help with? What are your business needs/requirements in a specific field/part of the business/sales/support or marketing process?
Once they have answered that, you can ask them how your product solved their problems. How satisfied are they with your product? Is this something they would now recommend to others?
You can also use customer interviews to generate deeper insights on features, UX, competitors, etc. For example:
- Is there anything that was preventing you from completing your transaction with us?
- Is there a service you were looking for which we couldn’t provide? If yes, which competitor of our brand did you use?
- Are you okay with our features deliverability? If not, which exact feature of ours would you like to improve?
Now that you have had a lengthy conversation with your client and gathered all the information, it’s time to close the call. But wait a minute, is there something that you’re missing?
Experts say it’s important to finish interviews with open-ended questions. It gives them a chance to add last thoughts to the interaction. Ask something like – Is there anything we missed in our conversation? Or is there something you would like to add to our conversation?
3. Surveys and forms
For example, you can add a survey after the purchase or during an in-website experience.
They are incredibly scalable and can be pivotal for business success. They provide both qualitative and quantitative feedback for your operations. As per this report, 85% of SMEs say customer surveys have benefited their business.
While creating customer surveys, your objectives should be crystal clear. That is, you should know exactly what information you have to collect. This would help you identify which questions should be a part of your survey.
Once you have established your objective, you can add questions to your survey form. Remember, your question should be concise and to the point.
Keep your surveys short and limit the number of subjective/open-ended questions in surveys and forms. Filling out lengthy forms is generally disliked by customers, and can result in repetitive or empty responses.
4. Social listening
Social listening is one of the best methods to generate direct customer insights. You can monitor social media for specific keywords, hashtags, and mentions, which allows you to gauge your campaigns’ effectiveness.
Such real-time conversation monitoring over platforms such as Linkedin, Facebook, Reddit, and Twitter will allow you to gather unfiltered feedback about your product. You can also use aggregator websites to read product reviews.
Pro tip: you can use sentiment analysis to check customer interactions and classify them as good, bad, or neutral. This can be done over several platforms, allowing you to monitor real-time customer interactions to help you gauge the overall attitude toward your product.
5. Behavioral analytics
Sometimes, you don’t need to interact with your customers to understand them. You just need to track their actions.
In this method, you monitor indirect data points such as time spent on a page, bounce rate, signup rate, conversion rate, etc. You can use app/website heatmaps to track customer clicks, user hesitation points, and more.
You can also use product analytics software applications to “gather data on user behavior, such as their actions, how frequently they use the product, and what features they prefer. The data is then analyzed to provide insights that can be used to improve the product, make data-driven decisions, and optimize business outcomes.”
Although it may not provide a complete representation, this approach to deducing behavior can be more cost-effective than conducting in-person customer interactions. Moreover, combining customer feedback with behavior analytics can help you paint a more holistic view of customer preferences.
Behavioral analytics can also help you map customer journeys and understand engagement metrics. This can be useful for predicting future trends.
6. Insights from the sales team and demo calls
You can use historical call logs to generate customer insights. These interviews can help you figure out customer-specific roadblocks and most significant concerns. Sales calls can also identify performance issues with the current product.
You can use demo calls to nurture personalized relationships with your customers and inform them about upcoming milestones and business objectives.
Top VoC use cases
Now as we have reviewed the most common channels to collect VoC data, let’s see how successful organizations worldwide have used VoC to improve their products and services.
1. Product development
This often happens with SaaS products: they start with a great concept, build a fantastic initial product, and start getting initial traction. But after a while, their product tanks, they start losing revenue, and end up disappointing their users.
Why? Because there’s a huge mismatch between their solution and market demand. They don’t listen to their customers when developing their products and pay the price for that.
By putting your customers first and involving them in product design, you can leverage customer passion into the initial adoption of your product. You can also create a long-term roadmap based on their feedback.
Such transparency between the brand and customers can also help uncover product issues such as bugs and errors.
Let’s take the example of Airbnb, the world-renowned property rental marketplace. Years ago, they started collecting customer feedback via different channels such as app reviews, post-stay surveys, and customer support interactions to enhance customer experience.
They used modern methods of collecting and aggregating VoC information and established company-wide metrics such as NPS for measuring success. They also use sentiment analysis to categorize sentiments behind customer feedback.
Using these data points, they launched a host of new features such as virtual tours, enhanced UI, and direct contact with hosts and were able to grow from 0 to 1 billion bookings.
AirBnB’s emphasis on VoC also enhanced user experience and increased customer retention. The organization also expanded to new fields, further solidifying its position as a global leader in the hospitality industry.
VoC allows you to assess customer buying power accurately. It also enables you to find out how your customers perceive the value of your product. You can then use this data to understand price sensitivity and how much customers will pay for your product.
Moreover, you can use this information to segment customers and guide them towards appropriately tiered products. For example, budget-conscious customers can be directed toward the basic version of the product.
Not just this, you can also run special discounts and promotions for specific customers.
Let’s have a look at Netflix, the on-demand streaming service. When the VPs at Netflix looked at the product trial data, they saw that cost was a major hurdle to signing up. Even though they had priced the monthly subscription at a low cost of $22, it was still a bit high for most testers. The VPs were tasked to decrease the cost of monthly subscriptions from $22 to $15.
However, this was difficult, and they couldn’t do it. That is, until they had a look at the VoC data.
VoC research showed that the average customer ordered only 2-3 movies per month, which could easily be done at their target subscription cost. The plan was launched, and the price of the product was reduced.
Netflix also used VoC to redefine different pricing tiers and their associated benefits. They introduced personalized offers, which helped them reduce churn and let them price their service competitively.
3. Marketing and sales
VoC can be amazing at changing your company’s marketing for the better. By understanding your customer’s perspective, you can create targeted marketing campaigns that resonate with your customers.
You can use customer interviews to identify specific pain points. This information can be used in your marketing copy to generate better conversions through targeted engagement. You can also use this information in your sales pitch to emphasize the benefits that align with their pain point.
Let’s see this with an example. You ask a simple question in your survey form – What’s your preferred way of communicating with our company? And what day and time would you want us to communicate with you?
You can then use this information to book sales calls/demo sessions with them.
When HubSpot was trying to improve its customer journey (to improve its customer targeting), they started asking customers for feedback regarding specific pain points. They categorized the collected feedback, performed analysis, and identified specific touchpoints to be improved.
Acting on the collected information, they improved their outbound content to address common pain points and concerns. They also refined their sales process to address specific issues. Sales teams were trained and equipped to handle common objections and provide customer-centric solutions.
As you know, content can be a great way to improve conversions. All this dedicated effort led to higher content engagement and content appreciation. They were able to improve customer relationships and satisfaction. And, of course, as you know, a happy customer is a loyal customer.
4. Conversion rate optimization
VoC would help you identify your customer’s needs and motivations. You can use this information to identify friction in different phases of your customer’s journey, such as your webpage, i.e., areas where your copy is not satisfying client queries. You can use these ideas to pinpoint areas of improvement and run A/B tests to fix those issues.
You need a way to map these changes and track your progress. You can create a custom dashboard that helps you mine your interview questions and thoroughly analyze them.
When Optimizely executives were trying to improve their conversion rates, they started looking at customer feedback and reviews. They also started measuring metrics, such as clicks, dropoff rate, bounce rate, etc. Some executives went ahead and started monitoring heatmaps, user dropoff points, and user hesitation points.
They designed A/B tests to experiment with changes in website layout, CTA, and other elements. Through this, they were able to reduce bounce rates on key landing pages and improve their engagements.
The customers who interacted with the website also reported high customer satisfaction. Due to their efforts in simplifying customer journeys and addressing pain points, they were named a strong performer in Gartner’s peer Insights voice of customer report.
5. Customer onboarding and retention
Customer onboarding is often a challenging process. You must ensure that your customers have the adequate material to get started. 90% of the customers feel that companies can do better when it comes to user onboarding.
However, if you know what your clients like, you can tailor this experience to their preferences, this way, you can address their specific needs and create a smooth translation from their current solution.
You can also create client-specific texts and content pages to help them get started with the tool. For example, if they are from a different timezone, you can create a short blog post on changing product settings to suit their timings.
This way, you can also identify potential dissatisfaction and disengagement signs in customer behavior. This is important since poor onboarding often leads to 40-60% user drop-off post signup.
An example is Pilot Flying J, a truck stop company that used VoC to improve its services. They used app-store reviews and customer feedback to understand customer interest and capture relevant data points. They also created a satisfaction survey to ask which actions were helpful to their customers.
Using this information, they isolated high-impact features and focused on simplifying customer onboarding. Hence, they were able to promote long-term customer loyalty and improve customer satisfaction.
6. Handling Customer objections and complaints
It’s well-known that Amazon’s former CEO, Jeff Bezos, used to read customer complaints. He viewed his email [email protected] as a way to improve customer satisfaction. According to him, the reason why Amazon was so successful was because of their obsessive customer focus.
This meant that the eCommerce pioneer took all customer complaints seriously. Jeff was notorious for sending customer complaints marked as “?” to his executives, who then assigned them to managers working under them. The manager was then supposed to drop everything they were working on and get back to Jeff with an answer.
He has a very famous quote – We’ve had three big ideas at Amazon that we’ve stuck with for 18 years, and they’re the reason we’re successful: Put the customer first. Invent. And be patient.
Running a “customer-centric business” is why many believe Jeff would be the world’s first trillionaire. As of 2023, Amazon’s market cap is $1.39 trillion, and it is considered the 5th most valuable company in the world.
VoC is a proactive approach to customer experience
Customers love to communicate their complaints and issues. That’s why it’s important to have an efficient communication channel open all the time to hear from customers.
But this is not enough to improve customer experience. Many customers don’t care to voice their complaints and just stop doing business with you, so many customer complaints are left unheard. Plus, you don’t want to hear from customers only when they’re unhappy and have complaints. This is when the damage is already done.
Voice of the customer is a more proactive approach to customer experience. It unravels hidden customer opinions and stops unwanted glitches and misunderstandings from becoming real customer issues.
Set up your action plan for a comprehensive VoC strategy, use these tactics to collect insights from your customers, and use them to improve customer experience.