Voice of The Customer Survey - What, Why and How

December 18, 2023
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When you want to identify customers' needs, metrics and KPIs such as revenue, NPS and website traffic may give you a rough indicator of whether the customer is happy. But they still don't tell you about what customers really want.

Numbers provide a top-level overview, but they don't tell you the ‘why’ behind the score. What could you have done better? Did you meet customer expectations? Why did they return their purchase? These are some of the hardest questions faced by many UX and product teams, and there's no real way to answer these questions unless you give your customer's a voice.

A Voice of the Customer survey is designed to help you answer these difficult questions

What is a Voice of Customer Survey?

Trying to second guess the customer and preempt their needs and wants can sometimes lead to bad decision-making. In addition, think of all the lost time when you find the new product feature you’ve been working on for the last few months doesn’t satisfy your customers.

Voice of Customer surveys (VOC surveys) provide feedback that empowers you to get complete knowledge on customer satisfaction, customer happiness and perception. Without asking for feedback, you’ll be flying blind without any direction.

Sending VoC surveys to your customers enables them to share quantitative and qualitative feedback across many different touchpoints of their customer journey.

Why are Voice of Customer Surveys Important?

Voice of Customer survey data is direct, actionable feedback from customers and potential customers that you can use to improve your business.

By giving customers a voice, you open yourself up to an array of insights that would otherwise have remained unknown to you and your team. Those insights can be turned into action plans, helping you achieve your key objectives.

Improve Customer Retention




Nobody working on a customer-facing initiative, whether it’s a Product Manager or Marketeer, can ever assume that existing customers will stay loyal. In highly competitive markets, customers churn as soon as your product performance dips. Customers churn for many reasons, and almost all of them are avoidable by acting on customer feedback.

Listening to the voice of the customer is one of the best ways to determine whether customers feel they are getting the service they deserve, where the encounter pain points, and the likelihood of customer loyalty.

Scaling Customer Experience

Carrying out customer interviews is a valuable market research method. But as you grow and scale, it becomes more difficult to gather information from different customer touchpoints that are representative of your customer base. By sending online surveys, you can gather feedback from a large sample size.

It allows you to see where you’re doing well and where you should focus more effort. It will enable you to create customer profiles and identify tendencies. Most of all, it gives you an edge by providing a better sense of what customers really want.

With the right voice of the customer tools, you can streamline the analysis of customer feedback at scale. Your teams will be empowered to analyse myriad customer feedback, identifying themes, and deducing core drivers of satisfaction and loyalty.

Reducing Negative Reviews

Your online presence expands beyond your control with comments and online reviews on third party sites and social media channels. Can you remember a time when an online review affected your decision to purchase a product? Social proof holds tremendous weight when customers assess whether to buy a product.

Proactively capturing customer feedback with Voice of the Customer Surveys, provides a way for customers to share negative feedback without telling the world. By acting on feedback and listening to customers, you’re more likely to get positive feedback on review sites aiding the acquisition of new customers.

What does a voice of the customer survey measure?

There is a vast array of data that can be measured. The metrics that are useful to a marketing team will be different to those in product development for example. So it’s important define benchmarks of what success looks like for the relevant teams before measuring and analysing it.

Real time direct customer feedback - what are customers saying to you in store, online or on feedback forms?

Indirect customer feedback - what are customers saying about you on third party sites and social media platforms? Are they positive promoters of your brand or negative detractors?

Inferred feedback - VoC data also measures metrics like a customer’s time spent on your website, purchase history or customer support contact.

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? An incomplete action (such as an abandoned cart) indicates it’s too much effort for the customer. That indicates that the customer journey needs to be improved.

Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT) - what were the overall customer satisfaction levels 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.

Building Voice of Customer Survey (VoC) Program




To get the ball moving and to give your customer a louder voice, it’s important to reach out for customer feedback at different touch points.

Online Popup Feedback Surveys

The first step when implementing your VoC program is to make it as easy as possible for customers to give you feedback. Pop up surveys or small widgets embedded on your web pages will make it easy for customers to get in touch with you. It shouldn’t be hard for customers to leave feedback on your site or product.

Map Out Key Touchpoints

Use customer journey mapping to identify every touchpoint so that you’re clear on what you’re measuring and where. You’ll start to uncover the key drivers of your customer experience and determine how they affect critical business metrics like revenue, customer lifetime value (CLV) or churn.

Regular Customer Surveys

Conducting regular surveys enables you to benchmark the performance of your Voice of the Customer program. It will allow you to establish performance metrics such as NPS, CSAT or our very own Net Sentiment. Once you have a unit of measurement and a regular survey, you’ll be able to measure progress over time, identify changes, and respond to negative themes in your feedback.

Ask For Feedback Immediately

Survey response rates increase when you collect customer feedback right after the goods or services have been delivered. Why? Because feedback collected within 24 hours of delivery is more accurate than data collected two weeks or a month later.

Memories fade, so waiting too long before sending out your survey invitation could compromise the integrity of your data.

If they don't reply the first time, don't interpret it as a signal to give up. You can set up reminder emails in your survey software to send follow-ups so you can boost survey completion rates in your next market research campaign.

Use NPS To Understand Customer Loyalty

Net Promoter scores are an increasingly popular way for marketers to measure customer satisfaction and customer loyalty.

Our NPS guide lays out all of the steps you need to ask to capture this powerful data. Research has even shown that companies who measure NPS as part of their voice of the customer research are three times more likely to grow by 10% or more in 12 months!

Voice of Customer Survey Design

To design a Voice of Customer (VoC) survey, you need to think like a researcher.

  • What is your research question?
  • How are you going to do it? Which types of survey will get the best results?
  • What questions do you want to ask?

To help you come up with Voice of the Customer survey questions and methodologies, check out our tips below.


Workflows Illustration 03


Choose A Type of CX Survey

There are three different approaches to designing a CX survey:

  1. Post purchase evaluation: feedback from an individual customer at the time a product or service is delivered, or shortly afterwards.
  2. Periodic satisfaction surveys: e.g. an annual customer survey. Feedback from targeted groups of customers to provide periodic snapshots of customer experiences.
  3. Continuous satisfaction tracking: regular surveys (daily, monthly or quarterly) that provide continuous satisfaction feedback on post-purchase evaluations over the entire customer lifecycle.

Keep Surveys Short

The shorter your survey can be – without sacrificing the essential feedback you need to obtain – the better. Research shows that the longer a customer survey is, the less time people will spend answering each question, meaning quality decreases.

A good tip is to add a progress bar (via your survey tool) so respondents can track progress and won't quit mid way through as they have full transparency of time commitments involved in completing the survey.

Personalise The Survey

Sending a personalised email invitation with a unique subject line will help generate engagement with your customers. Using friendly and personal messaging is more likely to elicit a response. Here is an example: ‘Hey Jessica! We hope you love your new jeans. Mind if we ask you a few questions about your shopping experience?’ Taking this more personal approach will invite the shopper to reply far more than a “Dear, Customer—please fill out a short survey regarding your purchase on June 11th.”

Include Open Text Feedback

Make sure customers can write open text responses in your survey. These provide insights that you may not have been looking for with closed questions and are particularly useful for follow-up questions. With text analytics software, it’s now easier than ever to carry out survey analysis and pull out insights from thousands of open text responses.

Try our online insight tagger and insert a sample comment and see first hand how open text can be analysed using AI.

Ask the Right Questions

Focus on questions that help you measure performance and offer a path toward improvement. You want to ensure you’re gaining accurate customer insights that reflect how they really feeling about your brand and offering.

If you don’t take the proper precautions in crafting your survey questions, you risk misunderstanding how your customers feel. One of the most significant shortcomings of survey design is response bias causing survey respondents to give inaccurate results.

What are the questions for the voice of the customer?

It’s important to ask VoC questions that will result in tangible, actionable feedback.

If it’s a customer satisfaction survey, you need to gauge how well you’re doing. You need to be able to measure and understand the levels of customer satisfaction and the likelihood of them becoming or remaining loyal customers.

If you ask, “Were you satisfied with your experience with us?” and get a simple “yes” or “no” response, there’s very little information to act upon. However, if you ask a series of questions with multiple choice rating answers, you will gain a better picture. A few good question examples:

  1. How likely would you be to recommend us to a friend? Choose a number between 0 and 10 with 0 being ‘not at all likely’ and 10 being ‘extremely likely’.
  2. How would you rate the quality of our product/service?
  3. Very high/ High/ Mediocre/ Low/ Very Low
  4. How satisfied are you with the response from our customer support team?
  5. Very satisfied/ Satisfied/ Neither satisfied nor dissatisfied/ Dissatisfied/ Very dissatisfied
  6. How likely are you to buy from us again? Choose a number between 0 and 10 with 0 being ‘not at all likely’ and 10 being ‘extremely likely’.

By adding a free text box in which customers can answer open-ended questions, you’ll gain more actionable, valuable insights from your customer questionnaire. So if you ask ‘Please tell us why’ as a follow up to question one, you’ll get more specific details that can be reviewed and acted upon (eg slow delivery time or poor online user experience).

Our customer satisfaction survey template will speed up the process by providing you with example questions.

Conducting Voice of the Customer surveys will provide your teams with valuable insights that they can use to improve the customer experience and increase brand loyalty. Giving your customer the opportunity to have their voice heard is a powerful aspect of your brand’s relationship with its consumers. You’ll gain a better understanding of them and their experience with your brand which is incredibly valuable for your business.

Read our blog to discover what you can do if your survey responses are decreasing.

AI tools like Chattermill can extract useful customer data to inform your decision-making. Book a demo to see how it can work for your business.

See Chattermill in action

Understand the voice of your customers in realtime with Customer Feedback Analytics from Chattermill.