What company chooses to operate in the dark? We gather and use business data daily to ensure we operate smoothly, to deliver our products and services and to manage our productivity. But all too often, companies overlook one of the most important data points to manage: customer insight.
At Marcomm, we believe in helping our clients manage their customer assets by employing VoC into our marketing strategy and planning cycles. We want to help our clients consistently ask for customer feedback, and to listen and tactically execute on opportunities to grow their businesses.
Opportunities for feedback are everywhere. You can’t call a customer service line today without being asked to take a survey. Retailers routinely provide surveys and ask for feedback … but business-to-business (B2B) companies often miss the chance to build emotional attachment by gaining customer feedback. Asking for customer input doesn’t have to be complex – with a simple process and tools in place, you can increase your knowledge of customer behavior and have greater influence driving results.
Contact Marcomm to learn more about VoC.
What is Voice of Customer (VoC)?
Voice of Customer is a research-driven, insight-gathering process used to collect feedback from your customers. It will help you learn firsthand how customers feel about your business, products and services so you can strengthen customer engagement and improve the customer experience.
According to this blog by University Lab Partners, implementing VoC in your business can include information-gathering techniques such as Focus Groups (blinded or unblinded), Customer Interviews, Customer Surveys, Social Media posts, Website Behavior, or Conjoint/Trade Off Methods (to understand what customers are willing to give up for a lower price and vice versa).
It’s important to have specific objectives in mind when conducting VoC. We often help companies define their purpose and what they want to improve in their business before embarking on VoC research.
- Are you trying to launch new products?
- Do you want to test new ideas or solutions?
- Do you want to claim great customer service?
- How do you stack up next to competitors?
- What information do customers want to receive from you? And how?
These are just a few questions that VoC will help you quantify. What else do you want to learn about your business? Using VoC is a great opportunity to get those answers that can help you grow and improve.
Why is VoC important?
Gaining customer insight is more than just knowing how customers feel about you. It’s about having the data to set goals and objectives that will influence customer perceptions in your communication. Substantial research shows that companies who make VoC part of their ongoing business process improve retention and have a stronger customer experience.
For example, SuperOffice.com recently reported on a Gartner study that revealed how collecting customer feedback can increase upselling and cross-selling success by 15% to 20%.
Uses of VoC:
- Know how customers feel about your brand
- Get feedback on your products
- Learn how to improve customer service and engagement
- Identify potential issues and opportunities
- Test new product ideas and solutions
- Increase customer retention
- Guide marketing plans and communication
- And don’t forget to consider VoE (voice of employee) insights
How will VoC influence your marketing plans?
When planning for marketing, the most important objectives are retaining existing customers and building a prospect pipeline. While gathering leaders for brainstorming and using existing operations data will help fuel your direction, it’s really the customer’s point of view that matters most.
Building a marketing plan through the lens of customer insight ensures that a business develops messaging and content that will best influence customers to make buying decisions with your company.
- Where do your customers look for industry thought-leadership?
- Do customers believe the promises you make regarding your products and services?
- Are you sharing the right success stories and case studies?
- Do customers want to hear more from leadership, or do they value hearing from frontline employees more?
- Are customers seeing you in the right places? At events, online, via email or other opportunities?
Learning what information matters and how customers want to receive it empowers marketing to be both effective and efficient with your budget. Focus on what matters most!
What does a VoC look like?
To conduct a VoC strategy, you’ll first need to determine what your primary business goals are and how you want customers to feel about you. What do you want them to believe? Many companies want to evaluate how customers view their specific products and services, others want to know how they are perceived from a customer service perspective, and ultimately every company should strive to influence marketing efforts through the eyes of their customers.
Once you have defined your business goals, you can move through the next steps in the process:
- Review and refine your goals
- Ask your customers
- Analyze the data
- Set objectives to improve
- Share insight with customers
- Manage, measure and repeat
Remember that VoC is not a “one and done” process. Once you commit to doing Voice of Customer research, make it part of your annual marketing objectives. Most VoC efforts start with a baseline survey to establish where the company is at from a customer perspective. Once a baseline is established, VoC updates can be conducted every three to six months, depending on your business. Updates are typically shorter surveys that “check in” on key company objectives (such as customer service) and often include a question or two that inform new products, services or marketing efforts.
Companies often include VoC feedback opportunities as a call to action (CTA) in email campaigns, or on case study landing pages. Don’t overuse or abuse customer feedback – burdening your audience with too many questions and frequent surveys can turn some customers off.
Selecting VoC Tools
You’ll need a good survey tool to conduct your Voice of Customer research. There are offerings that specialize in VoC insight gathering, but for most companies you just need a tool that helps you structure questions, capture insight and analyze results.
At Marcomm we currently use SurveyMonkey, which allows us to create and brand surveys for our clients, as well as make decisions about anonymity–since you often get better feedback when you’re not asking for names.
Regardless of the tool you choose, here are a few best practices:
- Clearly state the purpose of your survey at the beginning so customers know what you want, and how you will use the insight
- Make sure to inform customers whether the survey is anonymous … or whether you’re capturing their information
- Survey length should be no more than 3-5 minutes (or 5-10 questions depending on complexity)
- Keep it simple – you’ll always want to ask more questions than a customer wants to answer
- Keep the questions simple and easy to understand – avoid complex rating systems
- Consider using a survey tool that captures NPS (Net Promoter Score) – this is a great way to measure and manage progress over time
Ultimately, make sure your goals are clear before you begin VoC, and evaluate them before each new survey is sent. And for the very best outcomes, share results with your customers in a meaningful and positive way after each survey. When you’re asked for feedback, don’t you like to know it was used?