Imagine you’re a consumer on the hunt for the best camera for YouTube (or commercial use, in general). You’ve done some Google searching and scrolled through your favorite brands on Instagram. You’ve even added an item to your cart on a handful of websites, but haven’t yet pulled the trigger.
One site sends you a generic follow-up email reminding you to complete your purchase. Another one addresses you by name and sends you some new recommendations that fit the style you’ve been looking for.
Which company are you more likely to buy from?
In today’s world, consumers have an abundance of choices. It can be difficult for marketing to cut through the clutter. Consumers want products that meet their specific needs, and they want brands and marketing messages that “get” them. They want to feel heard. This is why harnessing the power of Voice of the Customer is more important than ever.
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What Is Voice Of The Customer?
At its simplest, Voice of the Customer, or VOC, is about listening to the consumer. It’s the process of gathering data through usability testing and research— on customer needs, expectations, and feedback — analyzing it, and improving the customer experience in a tangible way.
This final step of “closing the loop” shows the customer that they’ve been listened to, and can be powerful in building brand loyalty. It’s important to note that VOC isn’t just about collecting data; it’s about understanding it and implementing it in meaningful ways.
What Are The Advantages?
While many think of VOC as a means for improving customer service, the benefits don’t stop there. A strong VOC strategy can have a direct effect on growing your business — boosting sales and improving customer retention.
According to a study by Qualtrics, improved customer experience (CX) has an overwhelmingly positive effect on business, with 94% of customers saying they are likely to buy again from a business with “very good” CX. And according to a study by Aberdeen Group, the top 20% of businesses using VOC data grew by 9.8x year-over-year.
VOC data can also serve you in personalizing your marketing. By engaging directly with your customers and understanding their habits, you can create marketing materials that speak directly to them. This can help you not only in retaining customers, but also in finding new ones.
Research shows that 88% of U.S. marketers reported seeing noticeable improvements due to personalization efforts. And 59% of customers report that personalization influences their shopping decisions. With 63% of millennials, 58% of Gen Xers, and 46% of Baby Boomers willing to share their information to get personalized offers, why not take advantage of this marketing technique?
Voice Of The Customer Templates
It’s important to set a clear intention for your VOC research well before you start including your customers in this process. A great way to do that is to create your own or download an existing VOC template.
To see the best results from this type of customer research, you should be selective about the types of questions you’re asking and encourage respondents to elaborate when giving feedback.
If not, you could end up spending a lot of extra time and resources collecting data that can’t be turned into something actionable.
(Later in this post, we’ll share how companies like Subbly, Burger King, Spotify, and Web Summit improved customer experience by implementing suggested changes from their VOC results.)
A VOC template like this one from Miro is helpful when planning out these questions and then organizing your customers’ responses afterward.
Essentially, you should be able to organize the qualitative data you get back into a VOC template that includes sections like “Wants,” “Needs,” “Pain Points,” and “Hesitations.”
Be sure to include your customers’ feedback verbatim, as this can really inform any copywriting changes you make during the implementation stage.
Now that we’ve established the positive effects VOC can have on your bottom line, let’s look at some strategies for you to implement in each stage of the process: collection, analysis, and implementation.
The collection processes information gathering information, from both existing customers and potential ones. This can include communicating with them directly or gathering feedback from external sites, like Yelp or social media. Let’s look at a few different methods for collection.
Surveys can be effective at various points in the purchase cycle. You could include a survey for consumers browsing your site for the first time or one for regulars who’ve just made a purchase, and anywhere in between. Including an incentive to complete the survey, like a discount on their next purchase, never hurts.
2. Email sign-ups
Email sign-ups can be a great opportunity to ask for additional info like birthday, location, and interests. This can come in handy later with personalized marketing.
3. Social Listening
Social listening tools can be very useful in finding out what people are saying about your product or service. This includes Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, but also blogs and forums.
4. Customer Interviews / Focus Groups
While customer interviews are one-on-one conversations with customers, focus groups include a small panel. Both can be effective for gathering VOC data.
5. Online reviews
Think sites like Google Reviews and Yelp.
6. Website behavior
VOC can also include customer behavior, including how consumers interact with your site and emails and buying history. Session recording software helps in getting a full recording of users' activity on your website so that it becomes easy to spot any pain points that users are facing. This is also important data for personalized marketing.
When collecting VOC data, questions can include:
- When did you realize you needed a product like this?
- Any concerns or hesitations in working with us?
- Did you consider alternatives?
- What’s the biggest value we provide?
- Any needs that aren’t being met?
- Would you recommend us to others?
The important thing in collection is gathering any and all data. The more information you have, the better you’ll be able to address the needs of your customers.
Analysis is about taking the time to unpack the data — looking at commonalities and trends, and understanding customer expectations. Sorting the data into different categories can also be helpful. According to CXL, categories can include:
- Pain points
Implementation is acting on the insights you’ve gotten, particularly in ways that make the customer feel heard. This is where VOC can really have an impact on growing your business. Areas to implement change include:
1. PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT
If your consumers are experiencing common pain points, take the time to improve your product. This can include making adjustments to your product’s usability. If you’re learning that you’re losing business to a competitive product, include features that might differentiate it from the competition.
2. CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE
The more people are satisfied with their customer experience, the happier they will be. Uncover problem areas in the purchase cycle so you can increase customer satisfaction.
For example, Subbly, an ecommerce platform used by entrepreneurs and marketers, used VOC to strengthen their CX. Subbly created a feedback page on their website, where users can comment on others’ feedback and vote on their favorite ideas.
VOC can be very effective in improving marketing copy, as you can use your customers’ own words to market to them. Testimonials are a great example of implementing VOC data.
This is also a great opportunity to let customers know that you’ve listened and are taking action. In this example, Burger King makes sure to let people know that their new promotion is an answer to customer requests. Everyone likes knowing they’ve been heard.
You can also take your marketing a step further through personalization, communicating with each customer as an individual. The VOC data you’ve collected gives you plenty of opportunities to do this and enhance the customer experience. With your email marketing, send emails that address the customer by name and send recommendations based on local trends or purchase history.
Airbnb are masters of this approach. By referring data about previous bookings, they’re able to send email recommendations tailored to the interests of each individual customer.
You can also personalize your ads by asking potential customers their age, gender, location, and favorite hobbies and interests. In this example, Web Summit used VOC data to create Facebook ads specific to the customer’s city, state, or country.
Voice of the Customer can grow your business in myriad ways, from product development, to customer service, to marketing personalization. At the end of the day, it all comes down to listening to the people who matter most: the customers. Paired with meaningful action, there’s no limit to your company’s growth.