Companies conduct voice of customer (VoC) studies to better understand how people interact with their product or service.
While there are many techniques to gather this information, the objective is largely the same: Ensure the customer is being heard and served as best as possible.
Private equity firms, portfolio companies, and private and public companies can all benefit from a strong voice of customer framework.
“Voice of the customer is extremely important to businesses because it allows companies to have visibility into where they are performing highly and where they are not,” says Brandon John, BluWave’s service provider relationship manager. “By hearing exactly how their customers feel about their brand, they can allocate the appropriate resources to improve some identified areas.”
Let’s talk about some of the advantages organizations can gain with the information gathered in VoC research.
Benefits of VoC
There are several advantages to conducting a voice-of-customer survey. It come as no surprise, then, that it’s been top-of-mind for our clients for years.
“VoC projects are always going to be something PE firms prioritize with their portcos,” John says. “We receive steady demand in this space and have since BluWave was founded.”
Deeper Customer Understanding
Rather than merely gathering feedback, VoC research helps companies reimagine their products and services to surpass customers’ needs by gaining an intricate understanding of who they are and what they want.
This includes how and when they use the product, as well as why they’re more (or less) likely to choose it over a competitor.
Improved Loyalty and Retention
Listening to customers and resolving their concerns establishes trust and loyalty, decreasing attrition and boosting customer lifetime value.
A client is more likely to stick with a brand that it feels has its best interests in mind.
Better Business Decisions
Actionable insights gleaned from customer input can steer key business choices around product roadmaps, marketing campaigns, pricing strategies and service models.
Increased Bottom Line
An unparalleled customer experience not only spurs growth, but also a competitive edge. One study showed that companies with strong VoC programs boast 10X more annual revenue growth.
Enhanced Customer Satisfaction
Catering to customers’ needs and wants forges lasting connections. It not only enhances the existing customer experience, but makes it more likely to acquire new ones as you get a better grasp on your target market.
This can have a compound effect as a happy customer is also more likely to recommend your brand or service to friends, families, colleagues and industry peers.
This might come as a surprise, but your own employees can also benefit from VoC studies. That’s because it gives them a stronger connection to the customer by putting themselves in their shoes. The more aligned the employees are with the clients, the more satisfied they tend to be, thus limiting turnover.
Voice of the Customer Best Practices
Use Multiple Channels
To comprehensively capture the opinions of your customers, you should employ multiple avenues for feedback, including surveys, social media, reviews, emails and phone calls.
By using a variety of channels to gather input, companies can gain a multifaceted understanding of client needs and desires that fuels business decisions, improved experiences and financial gains.
Choose Timing Wisely
The timing of requests for customer feedback can significantly impact the quality and amount of responses. Businesses should choose a moment that is relevant, convenient and respectful for clients, such as after a purchase, service interaction or milestone.
Businesses that are considerate in their requests for input are more likely to receive thoughtful, actionable responses that can drive key business decisions and improved outcomes.
READ MORE: What is Commercial Due Diligence?
The best moment to act on feedback received is as soon as possible. While you want to be diligent about understanding and applying what customers tell you, times is of the essence.
This is especially important when it comes to fixing problems, resolving negative feedback and staying ahead of competitors.
To gain business insights, companies should analyze customer feedback and group clients by factors like demographics or habits. Tailoring actions to different groups helps build loyalty and boost revenue.
It also establishes trust, decreases attrition and increases lifetime value by making each experience as tailored as possible.
Ask Clear Questions
The quality of your feedback depends largely on the quality of your questions. You should ask clear, concise and specific questions that are easy to understand and answer. You should also avoid leading, biased or ambiguous questions that can skew your results.
The value of customer input hinges greatly on the quality of the questions posed. Aim for clear, crisp and targeted inquiries that are easy to comprehend and respond to. Avoid being suggestive, biased or obscure lines of questioning that can skew results.
Your goal is to learn what customers think about your business, not try to convince them of something.
One of the most important VoC best practices is to acknowledge your customers’ feedback and show them that you appreciate their time and opinions. There’s never been more competition for our time, so the fact that someone is willing to participate in your study means they probably have strong feelings.
Follow up with a thank-you message, sharing how their feedback will be used or even offering a reward (see below).
Share Findings Internally
To turn feedback into action, you need to share your findings with the relevant stakeholders in your organization. You should communicate the key insights, recommendations and action plans to your employees, managers and leaders. You should also encourage collaboration and accountability across different teams and departments.
Benchmark Against Your Industry
To measure your performance and progress against your competitors and industry standards, you should benchmark your VoC metrics against external data sources. You can use industry reports, surveys or benchmarks to compare your customer satisfaction, loyalty and advocacy levels with others in your field.
Test and Optimize
VoC best practices are dynamic, not static. You should constantly refine your program to ensure that it is effective, efficient and aligned with your overall business goals.
This can be done with A/B testing, analytics or feedback loops to evaluate and improve your VoC methods, tools and strategies.
Involve Key Stakeholders
To ensure that your VoC program has the support and resources it needs to succeed, you should involve key stakeholders from the start.
Identify decision-makers, influencers and beneficiaries of your program and engage them in defining the goals, scope and outcomes of your efforts.
Offer Participation Incentives
To increase your response rates and motivate your customers to share their feedback , you can offer participation incentives such as discounts, coupons, freebies or loyalty points.
Choose incentives that are relevant, attractive and proportional to the effort required from your customers.
The expert service providers in the BluWave network know the importance of understanding your customers.
We constantly vet and re-vet the best third-party resources for this exact need, no matter what your customer type or industry.
“We have a solid bench of VoC providers in the BluWave network,” says John, who interacts with these third-party resources on a daily basis. “However, it is important to have the right group, for the right need, at the right time.”
“Like all service toolboxes in the BluWave network, the VoC toolbox is always rapidly expanding,” John adds.
Once you make a selection, we’ll hold the service provider accountable from start to finish as they bring their voice of customer expertise to your specific situation.