Written by Vivek Jaiswal | Co-founder, Customer Guru
Voice of the Customer (VoC) is much more than an actual voice. It is a combination of voices captured at various customer touch points. It is an intricate process used to capture both quantitative and qualitative information from customers. Information such as their requirements, preferences and feedback; in other words, a gold mine of data! This information is what you’re supposed to be using to chisel away what the customer don’t want and deliver the best quality product or service. What you may think is an excellent addition to your product or service may be an annoyance to the customer, and the VoC helps you identify that – forcing you to look at things from the customers’ perspective.
Now all this may sound very simple to accomplish. I don’t mean to pop that bubble, but it’s not! Remember, your customers’ wants and needs are constantly evolving. Following a dedicated VoC process when you develop a product or a service is an excellent idea, but it doesn’t stop there. VoC has to be an ongoing process, taking place throughout the customer journey; until the end of their interaction with your company. This allows companies to constantly track customer expectation and requirements to ensure that the customer experience is at its peak.
In this customer centric era, VoC is a primary method to show customers how important and crucial their say is in your company. When customers feel like a part of the company, they will in reality go out and voice their praise about your brand. It all starts with engaging with your customers and giving them a direct line into your business.
Follow these four simple steps to master the Voice of the Customer process.
Ask for feedback
Take some time to plan what you want to know from your customer. Think of that one piece of customer feedback that would help your business most. Ask about what the customer needs that isn’t part of your product. Find out what the customers want to feel when they use your product or service and ask how you could improve certain aspect of it. It is extremely important to find out the customer’s experience with the product or service itself and how you can take it to the next level.
Keeping in mind what you expect to hear from the customer, be prepared to ask the right questions from your customers and in the right way. There are a number of ways to truly capture the Voice of the Customer and you must choose what is best suited for you. You could try various methods such as customer feedback forms, focus groups, or even one-on-one interviews. Don’t stop there. Set out on a journey to the all-knowing Google and search for your company. Look for feedback or criticism on review sites and social media. Lastly, literally listen to the voice of your customer. Get customer service representative to call customers at periodic intervals and find out what they think of your product or service and the experience they had with it.
Listen to what they are saying
After gathering all this information don’t let it sit idle. Analyse and examine it. Look for trends in what customers are saying. Locate exceptions in their feedback. Your director of customer experience or customer service head (whoever deals with customer relationships) should be reading through every bit of feedback so that they can really teleport to the mind of the customer. They should be able to empathise with the customer on every level.
It is up to you to decide what method you use to best compile all that information; it could be a chart, a graph, or even a tabular report. Make the voice of the customer analysis comprehensible and actionable. This vital step will dictate the next two steps, so carefully listen to what customers are saying.
Observe how they engage and interact
After gathering all this information you should be able to link the feedback to your product or service. Explore a variety of questions that you could ask.
- How can this data be related to the initial product plans?
- Is there a certain trend in what customers are saying or does everyone have vastly varying feedback?
- What is different in what you are hearing?
- How will such feedback carve the path for your company?
- Is it practically possible to implement what customers are suggesting?
Additionally find out how customers best interact with your company. What touch points they use most and how you can constantly develop a customer experience map. This allows your company to maintain a close relationship with the customer which makes it easier to obtain feedback in the future.
Act in real-time and Close the Loop
You’ve used all your Voice of the Customer tools to gather feedback and have analysed it; its now time to put the feedback to work. Use this gold mine of information to run a series of improvements for your product or service and across all departments in your organisation. This is your best chance to put your company on the same page as your customers. Implement changes in your product or service, customer support and even your means of interacting with customers; in the end it’s all about them. I’m not saying that it’s possible to act upon everything that the customers have said right away, but you can always prioritise. Figure out what changes will have the largest impact and set that as a goal. Eventually work on the rest. One step at a time towards success!
You’ve almost conquered the Voice of the Customer process. There’s just one more step: follow up and close the loop. Build trust with your customers by taking into account their feedback and actually implemented it in your product or company. Show your customers how much you value them and their experience; and the position they hold in your company. Always thank them for their feedback. This is not optional at all. If your customers aren’t receiving a response, they’d believe that you are ignoring their input and not giving them any credit. They won’t be giving you feedback anytime soon if they believe it’s a waste of their time.
Customers love to know that they have been heard. One of the most underused methods to interact with the customer is a personal ‘thank you’ or follow up note. Whether you’re a small or a large company, this opportunity must be used! Use this simple template to return a thank you note for every customer feedback.
Executing a successful VoC process is not an easy task, however, the harvests of it can completely change the course of your company. Following these simple steps will equip your company with a much better mindset towards your customers’ needs. Their voice will be a constant reminder to keep up your standards and think of them every step of the way. Having an effective VoC process in place – at every point in the customer journey – is critical in ameliorating your company and reinforcing customer relationships.