Align Your Voice of the Customer Initiative With Your Customers
By Scott Clark
An effective VoC initiative requires that brands obtain genuine, organic omnichannel customer feedback, a process that requires multiple methods and avenues.
The Voice of the Customer (VoC) can be thought of as a cumulative statement of your customers’ experiences, feelings, and expectations regarding your brand. The practice of gathering VoC data from and about customers is typically accomplished through feedback, reviews, surveys, one-on-one interviews, and metrics. All of the gathered VoC data is then used to gain a better understanding of customers’ likes, dislikes, needs, expectations, preferences, and desires concerning a brand’s products, services, or perceptions. Let’s look at the ways brands are using VoC data to better align themselves with their customers.
Shawn Herring, CMO of airSlate, a document workflow automation platform provider, told CMSWire that successful brands are using VoC data to anticipate shifting consumer preferences, test new products and solutions, ensure customer satisfaction and maintain high retention rates. “Collecting, analyzing, and acting on insights and sentiments revealed in VoC data helps companies stay closely aligned with their customers,” Herring said.
Voice of Customer Requires Genuine, Organic Feedback
An effective VoC initiative requires that brands obtain genuine, organic omnichannel customer feedback, a process that requires multiple methods and avenues. “Marketers are employing a range of tools to secure authentic feedback for VoC initiatives, including customer surveys, interviews, regular business reviews, data collection from product review sites, sentiment analysis on social media, and customer feedback software,” Herring explained.
Online surveys can be useful for collecting feedback if they are quick, convenient, impersonal, and anonymous. By providing customers with an unobtrusive survey option, brands are enabling them to easily provide genuine feedback in a way that will not take much time and effort. There are many survey solutions available, and many of them, such as Survey Monkey, Qualtrics, and Qualaroo, allow users to create free trial accounts, enabling brands to see if the survey solution is effective for their goals.
Social listening is another option that brands are using to obtain genuine, organic feedback from customers. Social media is the preferred channel for many customers, and it’s where they regularly post about various aspects of their lives. Research from SmartInsights revealed that as of July 2022, there were 4.7 billion social media users worldwide. Additionally, a 2022 GlobalWebIndex report indicated that from January to March 2020, social media users were on social networks (and associated messaging apps) for an average of 2 hours and 22 minutes per day.
Social listening enables brands to obtain feedback from not only their own social presence but also their customers’ social media profile pages. Unlike surveys or interviews where customers may feel pressured to provide positive feedback, social media is a place where users feel free to post their genuine beliefs, likes, and dislikes, and they are not afraid if their views are seen as negative. This allows brands to obtain actionable insights that will enable them to eliminate pain points in the customer journey, fix problems with their products or services, or add new features that customers want to see.
Brands don’t have to manually search for mentions of their products, services, or brand name on social media, but rather, they can use social listening platforms to do the grunt work. Platforms such as Brandwatch Consumer Research, SproutSocial, Notified, Talkwalker, MeltwaterSocial, and Mention all have functionality that includes social listening, analytics, and reporting.
Customer reviews are an excellent source of VoC data and are typically very positive or very negative, each of which is useful for obtaining actionable insights. Daniel Lemin, customer experience author and strategist at Convince & Convert, a marketing consulting service, told CMSWire that online reviews are another area rich in data. “This holds perhaps the most promise, as it reflects a customer’s real-world experience with products and services. Companies like eCommerce Insights.ai are applying machine learning to help organizations respond in real-time to customer experiences.” Lemin believes this is one of the most interesting areas in VoC work because it’s happening in close proximity to product usage.
Use VoC Metrics for Specific Goals
Metrics are simply a way of measuring something or measuring the results of acting and are a tool for measuring the effectiveness of a particular effort. People use metrics for measuring financial, software delivery, and Voice of Customer performance. “Beyond understanding standard business metrics representing sales figures and growth rates, successful businesses must pay close attention to customer needs, expectations, perceptions, and perspectives,” said Herring.
There are a few metrics that are typically used in VoC campaigns, including:
- Customer Effort Score (CES) – Describes the effort a customer has to make to do business with a brand.
- Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT) – A way of determining whether a customer is satisfied with the overall experience they have when interacting with a brand.
- Customer Loyalty Index (CLI) – Informs a brand about a customer’s loyalty to the brand, and whether they will be a repeat customer.
- Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) -– A valuable measure of how much potential revenue is attributed to a customer; determined by the customer’s past, current, and future spending trends.
- Repurchase Ratio – This enables a brand to know if a customer is likely to do business with them again in the future.
- Would You Miss Us? (WYMU) – Connected with the Customer Satisfaction Score and the Customer Loyalty Index, this metric asks a customer if they would miss the brand if it no longer existed.
Brands must ensure that they are focused on the VoC metrics that align with the specific goals they have set for their VoC initiative. If a brand has made major changes to its clothing line, it may want to focus on the Repurchase Ratio and CSAT. A brand that has made updates to its website shopping cart might be concerned the changes they have made to the site have made it more difficult or tedious to use, so the CES may be more appropriate for them to focus on. Other brands may be worried about their customer retention rate, so they would be more likely to focus on the CLI and WYMU metrics.
Lemin told CMSWire that a brand’s departments are likely to look at VoC data with different goals in mind. “Marketing is in a better position to tailor their content to the right audience and is more likely to find them in the right places. Sales better understand buyer motivations, and that can put them in a better position to convert leads to sales,” said Lemin. Likewise, Lemin said that product teams are better equipped to make the right incremental changes to a product to ensure it’s filling the right market gap, while operations (including customer service) can use VoC work to improve how certain aspects of the business adapt.