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voice of the customer (VOC)

Voice of the customer (VOC) is the component of customer experience that focuses on customer needs, wants, expectations and preferences.

In most businesses, the quality of customer experience is a key differentiating factor against competitors. Therefore, deploying a VOC program is important for ensuring that customer input is requested and valued.

To determine the VOC, an organization analyzes indirect input -- data that reflects customer behaviors -- and direct input -- data that reflects what a customer says. Gathering indirect input includes a close examination of customer data that businesses gather through monetary transactions, market research, product usage data and web analytics. Gathering direct input includes social media monitoring for brand or product mentions, collecting both negative feedback and positive feedback from customers and conducting customer interviews.

Importance of voice of the customer

Customer feedback helps ensure that organizations deliver features that customers want and need. With subscription-based, digitally delivered product offerings, such as software as a service (SaaS), customer retention and the ability to upsell are important factors in revenue. Therefore, VOC-enabled customer success is crucial to organizations with a "pay-as-you-go" pricing model. Additionally, it is important to communicate organizational changes that are made as a result of VOC data to inform customers that businesses are acknowledging their opinions.

Stages of VOC software

Voice of the customer data collection methods

There are multiple channels from which businesses can collect direct feedback from customers. These methods include:

Ways to collect customer feedback
Ways to collect customer feedback
  • Organizing a customer advisory council that meets with existing customers to receive their feedback.
  • Sending customers a request to complete surveys or product reviews. These include online surveys, phone surveys, SMS surveys and those sent by mail.
  • Creating a mystery shopping program for customers to complete audits and provide feedback on brand services, products and location cleanliness.
  • Calculating customer scores such as the net promoter score (NPS), customer health score (CHS) and customer effort score (CES).
  • Using social media monitoring tools to monitor brand mentions on the web.
  • Gathering live chat logs from customer support phone calls and text messages.
  • Selecting topics and customers to create focus groups.

Building a voice of the customer program

Implementing VOC programs can increase customer loyalty and help companies to create a more valuable product offering. Businesses must include roles from across the company to provide input on what kind of feedback they seek from customers. Some of these roles include CIOs, chief customer officers, chief marketing officers, chief revenue officers and data analysts.

Once businesses establish a team and collect customer feedback, the next step is developing a strategy for using the data. Some best practices include:

  • Analyze data to spot patterns and trends. Qualitative input may identify product bugs that that companies need to fix or customer service processes that they need to improve. Quantitative data may identify high or low use rates in some features, indicating their usefulness or success.
  • Share information across the organization. This is an important step, as different information will benefit different areas of a business. It also communicates to employees how they are doing and what their customers expect.
  • Act on customer insights from VOC data. Examples of actions include making improvements to customer support and launching new products and services.
  • Measure success. Once businesses identify and address an issue, it's necessary to follow that change to gauge how customers respond and whether it has the intended outcome.
  • Make revisions. Customer ratings programs are always evolving, and it's necessary to make changes along the way to ensure customer satisfaction. This could mean changing questions on surveys to gather new information or finding new ways to interact with customers.

Gathering customer feedback should not be a one-and-done process. This is an ongoing exercise that businesses should conduct throughout the entire customer journey.

This was last updated in July 2020

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