You can’t have a business without knowing your customers.

Who are you creating value for? Are your paying customers happy with what they buy? Is there anything you can do to improve your offering? When asking for support, do you customer service team collect the feedback? And if yes, how are you using it?

In this article you’ll find out what are the various ways in which you can collect customer data and how to best use it, all in an integrated way.

What is the Voice of the Customer?

Voice of the customer (VOC) describes in measurable terms the wants and expectations of your customers. VOC is critical in customer experience design.  You want to consider your customers’ needs every step of the process. Understanding VOC will help you identify potential crises, evaluate new concepts and ideas, customise your products and services to fit customer needs and improve customer retention.

We know that acquiring a new customer is 25X more expensive than retaining an old one so place customer retention high on your priority list. Research conducted by Fred Reichheld from Bain & Co (the inventor of the Net Promoter Score) shows that an increase in 5% retention rate leads to an increase in profit by more than 25%.

Six things to consider when building a VOC strategy

There are plenty of reasons to focus on improving customer retention. In an article about the value of  a VOC strategy we find a couple of things to take into consideration before you start:

1.To create a VOC strategy, you need the buy-in from the executive team. Their acceptance is necessary because it will help you communicate the benefits of the VOC campaign to the entire organisation and will increase the adoption of the measures to be implemented with the budget needed to apply the tactics;

2. Set out the goals for the VOC strategy from the very beginning. You should know what you are trying to achieve in how much time and who is going to do it. Focus on a couple of specific business objectives that will maximise your ROI and bring you the desired outcomes;

3. Find out how your existing feedback sources are collected. You might find some unexplored sources of customer insight like product information requests, feedback offered at the front desk office, at events, webinars, in training or data from review sites.

4. Evaluate the data you already have to find out if it gives you enough information to transform it into actionable insights. A Voice of the Customer strategy typically is based on data from both qualitative and quantitative sources, but you might want to add additional channels to collect feedback like setting up an online research community of customers;

5. Together with your team, set a direction of how you want to use the collected data. Decide what information is actionable. Avoid the mistake of acting too early on all feedback. Select only the insights that align with your organisation’s mission and vision;

6. Centralise the information collected from different sources in a hub and appoint someone to be in charge of delivering reports throughout the organisation.

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What are the best ways to find out what your customers want?

You want to understand want your customers really want, not what you think they want.

As already mentioned, a good VOC strategy will contain both qualitative and qualitative market research steps. Quantitative research uses surveys, customer service reports, chats, and sentiment analysis, while qualitative research methods include interviews, focus groups, online community research, and social media reports, sales reports, or account payable information.

In your research, make sure you’re aware of biased data. If your business doesn’t have a clear customer segmentation, and you’re asking customers about your products in a market you just entered, data may be inaccurate and the results of your research irrelevant. Another thing that can go wrong is conflicting information from customer and customer groups. That’s why it’s important to centralise the information gathered and take customer segmentation seriously.

In conclusion, the two most important parts of a VOC strategy are gathering consumer insights which means finding out who your customers are, their needs and aspirations and how can you best serve them. The second part of the VOC strategy is how you leverage the insights in building new products, improving the level of customer service and the overall performance of your product.