Unlocking customer insights with a powerful Voice of the Customer program
Customers are the lifeblood of your business and the key to its profitability. So it’s important to know and understand them. By unlocking real customer insights and discovering their needs, expectations and satisfaction levels with your brand, you can make informed decisions to drive customer loyalty and retention and deliver real impact.
What is Voice of Customer (VOC)?
Voice of the Customer (VOC) is a way of gathering valuable insights from your customers. VoC is used to collect customer feedback on your business, its products and services. This customer feedback will help you to understand your customer needs and expectations better, and pinpoint areas of customer satisfaction and dissatisfaction. These learnings enable you to improve the customer experience and your business’ offering.
What is a Voice of the Customer program?
A VOC program will collect customer feedback on your business, its products and services from many sources. This customer data is analysed to reveal what customers really think about your brand and to identify any gaps between customer expectations and their actual experiences. These actionable insights can inform your VOC strategy to improve your business and its offering.
The benefits of a Voice of the Customer program
Incorporating a voice of the customer program in your organisation can:
- Reveal customer needs and customer preferences
- Develop a closer connection with your customers
- Create stronger customer relationships
- Identify and resolve potential issues early
- Build customer loyalty and engagement with your brand
- Increase customer retention
- Provide a customer-centric view of your business which add to metrics like churn and revenue to give a more holistic picture.
Within your organisation, it can:
- Improve teamwork and collaboration
- Highlight an organisation’s strengths to build upon
- Inform and strengthen product development teams
- Help customer success teams to create a better customer journey overall
- Develop a more customer-centric approach and vision.
How to build a Voice of the Customer program
- Define the business objectives and questions that need to be answered by the process. This is often by senior leaders and stakeholders
- Connect feedback across customer data channels - quality data collection is vital. Tools such as VOC software or market research/ survey providers are helpful
- Involve cross-department teams like customer service, sales and front of house. Those who have most customer interactions tend to know their needs and pain points well
- Ensure collaboration between teams when it comes to planning
- Distribute the VOC feedback and insights across the business to stakeholders and team members. Dashboards and reports can be useful ways to present specific customer insights to specific teams/ stakeholders
- Present actionable insights from the VOC program. Address customer feedback. The results of this need to be measurable. Align the VOC insights with the actions and improvements made to show clear ROI (or expected ROI) and positive change for the business
- Rinse and repeat. Use your feedback loop to follow up on changes made, to check if your actions made positive change, to gauge customer feedback and to inform decision-making.
Voice of the Customer metrics
In order to evaluate the success of your VOC program, you have to measure its success. You'll have many metrics to measure it against and they will vary from one team to another. What success looks like for a product development team will be different from a sales, marketing or customer support team. It’s important to define benchmarks of what success looks like for the relevant teams before measuring and analysing it.
Collecting and interpreting VOC metrics
Real-time direct customer feedback
Businesses transparently ask for customer insights. This can be via customer surveys, online reviews, forums, focus groups or complaint forms for example.
Indirect, multi-platform customer feedback
Social media is a good example of this, when people are talking about the business rather than directly to it. Indirect feedback can be tracked on third party websites and social channels.
Customer data is interpreted to gauge a customer’s likely feelings towards a brand/ product/ service. This could be how much time they spend on the website, whether they repeat purchase or their contact with customer support (or the contact center) for example.
NetPromoter Score (NPS) - how likely is the person to recommend your business?
Customer Effort Score (CES) - how much effort does it take to complete an action? Non-completion (such as an abandoned cart) indicates it’s too much effort for the customer and that part of the customer journey needs improvement.
Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT) - overall, how satisfied was the customer with their experience with the brand or a particular service?
Customer Loyalty Index (CLI) - an average score across a number of questions is taken to show the likely level of customer loyalty.
There are multiple touchpoints on a customer journey where brands can capture VOC data. This will build on your understanding of your customer and relationship with them. Different techniques can be used to maximise the responses to your questions and to gain valuable customer insights.
Customer interviews - direct communication between the brand and customer and a great way to build trust. It’s a more expensive technique but elicits more personal responses.
Online surveys - customer survey responses track direct feedback about the product/ service/ customer experience (such as CSAT surveys). The responses are only as good as the questions you ask. Online surveys can often be created in your CRM.
Live chat - online direct conversation between brand and customer in real time. It’s a really effective customer service tool and a way to capture VOC data. You can even follow up with an online survey - a powerful combination of techniques to glean feedback.
Social media - brand channels can capture direct, unfiltered customer feedback, but discussion of the brand on other social media channels can also be tracked. On your social media channels, you can develop two-way conversations and build customer relationships.
Website behaviour - using online data such as time spent on site, purchase history, and the customer journey (via a heat map) will reveal patterns, preferences and potential pain points.
Recorded call data - direct customer feedback gives broad insights into customer sentiment. It can be reviewed further down the line and is a useful tool for customer service teams.
Online customer reviews - as with social media, this can be on the brand site or a third party and provides specific feedback on their experience. A high proportion of potential buyers refer to online reviews before making a purchase. They’re pure gold for VOC data.
In-person surveys - direct and open customer feedback on a smaller scale and with minimal set up costs.
Net Promoter Score® - valuable insight into the customer’s likelihood to recommend the brand to friends and family. It’s a simple scoring system (0-10) that delivers reliable data quickly.
Focus groups - often used to test new functionality, developments or new products. This is an open dialogue between 10 or so people to share their thoughts and viewpoints.
Emails - target a specific group with specific questions or gain feedback from your whole database. It can be a fairly open email asking for responses or a link to a customer survey.
Dedicated feedback form - make it easy for customers to submit feedback anytime. It’s an essential form of VoC and needs to be readily available and using the right questions to provide you with meaningful answers.
Text analytics - increase efficiency by using technology like AI to interpret customer feedback via online forms, SMS, social media, emails, chatbots and customer support interactions.
Voice of the Customer analytics
It’s all very well amassing a wealth of customer data, but it only becomes useful when it’s analysed and interpreted. That’s when you can translate the findings into actionable insights.
A suggested process:
Pick out common themes - if you’re finding the same things being said over and over again, then they are the items to prioritise as they’re most important to your customers. Perhaps your website is hard to navigate, there’s a long wait time for customer support or your competitors offer lower pricing. Work out the percentage of responses making the same point.
Document your findings - create simple documents containing the insights. Spreadsheets are ideal for displaying trend data. Customer behaviour and preferences can form a text document, and the insights into your audience can enhance existing customer personas.
Plan your work - take the actionable insights from your research and plan their implementation. This may mean a review of the customer journey, product development work or employee training for example.
Involve your team - report back to your colleagues. They receive the filtered results, coupled with an action plan rather than a mass of information with no roadmap. This is better for employee engagement. Team members are more likely be get onboard the mission to improve pain points and implement customer priorities.
Voice of the Customer tools
This may seem overwhelming and time-consuming, and it can be. But there are many tools available to make the process simpler. Here are five that come highly recommended.
- Chattermill - gain a holistic view of your customers. Create an intelligent, single source of customer truth by integrating all of your customer feedback strands.
- SurveyMonkey - build customer surveys, online forms and polls simply and quickly. Collect responses from customers via emails or web forms. It’s simple and reliable.
- AskNicely - businesses can collect customer feedback from texts, emails or web. Using Net Promoter Score (NPS) based software, you can create surveys and get real-time feedback.
- Typeform - an easy way to build surveys, forms, polls and quizzes to gather customer insights and data.
- Hubspot - their customer feedback software means that you can keep your finger on the pulse of opinion. Save time with ready-made NPS, CES, and CSAT surveys and VoC templates that you can customise for your business.
Voice of the Customer examples
The luxury jewellery brand, Monica Vinader, put the customer at the heart of everything they do. But the team wanted a single source of truth - one place to hear and react to the voice of the customer. So the customer experience department implemented Chattermill’s Unified Customer Intelligence Platform.
“Chattermill dashboards let us gauge customer feedback across different areas of our business – CX, support, product, eCommerce, and just about anything. We use them in our cross-functional meetings to get an accurate picture of what's happening and drill down into specific themes," Jade Roberts, Head of Customer Experience.
"We had all this data in one place where anyone could see it. Suddenly, even the tiniest issues started becoming focal points for the business. Because it was so easy to self-serve and find the data, everyone just felt really energized and motivated to take action."
By using Chattermill solutions, the customer experience team was able to identify and rectify underlying causes of customer churn. They monitored customer sentiment in real time and could make relevant changes in response to customer pain points. This access to a pool of actionable insights has been transformative for the company.
Limehome is the leading technology-based provider and operator of serviced apartments in Europe. The company needed to channel the voice of the customer into every department and educate employees and partners on how to build outstanding customer experiences.
With the help of Chattermill’s interactive dashboards, workflows and alerts, Limehome's operations team could uncover critical customer issues, potential risks, and incidents with external partners. The dashboards “enable us to identify critical issues...and then build an action plan,” explains Jennifer Möller, Head of Hospitality Operations.
Analysing customer insights was also impactful for product development and customer experience teams. They understood their customers better and were motivated by seeing the positive impact of their work. And finally, the data was used to inform business strategy. The overall result of this VoC program of work was:
- 20% increase in NPS score
- 81% increase in nights booked between 2021-23.
Adopting a customer-centric approach, and basing your decisions on them and their needs, will make a powerful impact. Actively listening to your customers, providing them with a feedback loop, will inform your decision-making. Implementing a Voice of the Customer program to collect, analyse and report your VOC data will empower your business to adopt a customer-centric approach and make informed decisions.