There's only one way to succeed in today's business landscape – listening to your customers. Voice of Customer (VoC) analysis helps your business collect valuable customer insight and transforms it into data that you can put into action to improve experiences.
The most successful businesses pay close attention to what their customers have to say. If you want positive customer interactions, you have to pay close attention to the metrics that drive customer satisfaction.
What is Voice of the Customer?
Studying VoC analytics aims to help businesses understand how customers perceive and interact with products, services, and brands. In a world where online reviews can make or break a business, providing memorable experiences is vital.
66% of customers expect companies to understand their needs and expectations1. That means there’s a very good chance a large percentage of your customers will hold your business to a high standard. By meeting this standard, you can set yourself apart from your competition.
Why is Voice of the Customer Important?
If you command a firm understanding of the pain points plaguing your customers, addressing their needs and improving their overall experience is well within your reach.
The best part?
Not only can you address issues as they arise, but you can also give your customers exactly what they want. By building a VoC strategy that focuses on the strengths of your customer's motivations and expectations, understanding your customers will come naturally, which will enable you to provide a more nuanced experience.
To achieve this goal, you will need to ask probing questions, collect feedback through comments and reviews, and most importantly, take action.
Here are a few questions you could ask in pursuit of this goal and a few examples of the insights you may uncover during your research:
What are my customers saying about competitive brands?
"Wow! I love ABC company's new sustainability campaign! They're always ahead of the industry curve."
What customer language can be used to better market my products?
“I like it when they use silly and creative ways to describe their products.”
What pain points do my customers have that are not being addressed?
"I wish they would update their catalogue more. Their current selection feels a little stale.”
For this one, a possible response from your business could be:
“Try our delicious, creamy mocha Frappuccino today that will make your taste buds do backflips!”
Some comments and reviews will be easier to digest than others. Still, by absorbing customer feedback and making necessary changes, you will be giving your customers exactly what they want, and you will be rewarded in turn with their continued patronage.
How does Voice of Customer Analysis Impact your Business?
According to a 2022 Global Consumer Trends2 report, 80% of customers claim they have had poor customer experiences in 2021. The same study goes on to state that 43% of customers demand better customer service from the brands and businesses they frequent.
Simply put, consumers are often vocal when it comes to demanding what they want. By asking the right questions and analyzing the reviews and comments of your customers, you’ll avoid being lumped in with the countless businesses that are blind to the needs and wants of the people they serve.
Capturing VoC data and applying it where it counts in your business will greatly improve your ability to connect and engage with your customers at every step of their customer journey.
By applying a VoC strategy in your business, you can reap the following benefits:
- Steal market share from a competitor: Consumers naturally gravitate towards businesses that are customer-centric. By giving the people what they want, you will be able to attract and retain customers from your competitors.
- Generate new product and service ideas: The closer your ear is to the ground, the more you’ll hear. Listen to enough conversations, and the people will tell you exactly what they want. These conversations can lead to the birth of new product and service ideas for your business.
- Refine marketing language and campaigns to reflect consumer language: You must talk like your customers think. By understanding the language that best resonates with your customers, you can refine your marketing language and campaigns to appeal to them on a personalized level.
A good VoC strategy will better equip you to listen to every customer that walks through your doors (or visits your website), collect data to improve processes, and will allow you to take swift and decisive action.
Without well-founded VoC insight, not only will your business be less capable of settling customer complaints, but you'll also find it difficult to leverage your customers as ambassadors when their sentiment of your brand is at its highest. In the long term, this could mean more churn, wasted advertising dollars and fewer business opportunities.
Be mindful that customers respond to how they're treated by the businesses they frequent, whether it be good or bad. The moment a customer walks into your business, the ball is in your court.
Using Customer Social Listening to Build an Effective VoC Program
If you intend on building an effective VoC program in your business, it must be top-tier, allowing you to develop insights that are equal parts accurate and reliable. In addition, picking the right market research company to partner with can be the difference between achieving your goals or falling short of them.
The following is a step-by-step guide to help businesses build an effective Voice of Customer program. Let's dive in.
Start with the Question
The first step of building an effective VoC program is shifting focus on answering questions. This will allow you to collect crucial data applicable to your business later down the road.
For instance, asking the question "how do we reduce customer wait times" can yield the answer "by hiring more staff."
The questions you ask will help you collect the right data, inform you on what analytics tools you should choose and what type of analyses you should perform.
We understand that some questions aren't exactly forthcoming when the problem is complex. However, asking generalized questions can help you collect valuable data until you hit on specific issues.
Here are a few general questions you can ask:
- Why aren't customers returning?
- How can we market our products more effectively?
- What other product categories are our customers looking for?
- Why is the average order volume (AOV) dropping month over month?
These types of questions can lead to even more specific questions that can help you reach the root of the issue.
Gather and Prepare the Data. Or Choose the Right VoC Insights Partner
Once you've found your question – or question(s) – the data gathering stage has begun. Keep in mind that the data you collect should be relevant to your question. Otherwise, you'll end up wasting your time. Gathering data doesn't have to be complicated. There are numerous ways to do this, including scouring online reviews and social media comments around key customer experiences.
Don't worry if you don't have the above data readily available. Oftentimes the data gathering stage is the most time consuming. That’s why brands oftentimes will partner with companies like Starlight Analytics that offer social listening and data mining services.
They’ll identify where your target consumer is discussing their pain points, mine and model the data using machine learning and identify unmet needs and deliver a robust report that offers real, tangible insights.
Not just any data will help you reach your VoC goals. Cutting corners, like anything in life, can potentially do more harm than good. That's why it's essential to find a VoC analytics partner that truly understands your customers and business model. In addition, your ideal partner should be flexible, offer robust reporting and offer customizability.
Take your time with your decision. Rushing in head first without doing your research can lead to a big headache down the road. Slow down, take your time, and do your homework until you find the right Voice of Customer solution best suited for your company.
Analyze your Data
At this stage, you should have reports hot and ready off the press that are poised to help you answer the questions that are so vital to your business. So, let's say you've asked the question, how can we market our products more effectively?
To find the answer, you’ve likely worked hard by gathering numerous reviews from various online review platforms like Yelp or Glassdoor, and scoured your social media data to collect customer feedback and see what people are saying about your business.
Or, if you have utilized a marketing research firm like Starlight Analytics, this customer analysis will largely have been done for you.
Now you have the data in front of you, and you and your team can sit down, analyze your customer's voice and sift through to find the answers you seek. There are numerous analyses you can run, such as a correlation analysis between purchase intent and the attribute of a certain product or service. By understanding the correlation between the two, you can uncover which attributes drive purchase and refine your product’s features and benefits accordingly.
Once you have the data you need and have analyzed it thoroughly, the next step is to draw actionable conclusions from it. Some insights will be easier to identify than others. For instance, reducing wait times by hiring more staff is relatively simple to identify and take action on.
But figuring out how to market your products more effectively will likely be a challenge. You may also stumble on insights that take you by surprise. For example, you may learn that a recent product launch flopped because of a discrepancy between price and perceived value. This is something you would’ve never known had you not taken the time to truly listen to your customers.
By tackling these insights head first, it can help you get to the bottom of issues that mean the most to your customers. A successful Voice of Customer analytics program, driven by data, can help you get to the root of any problem and help differentiate you from your competitors.
Now you have nothing left to do but to take action! We want to tell you that your next step will be crystal clear, but that isn't always the case. Some problems can't be solved with a simple solution.
When this happens, ask more questions, focus on relevant data points and continue the VoC data analytics process until you've found a solution. The best answers won't always be clear, but having a VoC program in place will enable you to collect the data you need to identify what your customers want.
Building a Successful Voice of Customer Strategy from the Ground Up
It's good to be eager to build a Voice of Customer program to improve customer experience, but it's just as important to lay the groundwork first. Many businesses rush headfirst into their VoC programs without aligning the factors needed to build an organization focused on being customer-centric.
The following factors will help you lay the groundwork for making your business more customer-centric at every level of your organization.
Vision and clarity
Is your vision of VoC in your business clear? If it's vague in any way, it'll be difficult for everyone else in your organization to understand the goal you're attempting to accomplish. A vision statement that's short and to the point will help decision-makers better understand your vision and should encourage them to buy-in.
Speaking of decision-makers, it's practically impossible to build a culture based on customer-centrism if it doesn't start from the top down. If the leadership isn't on board, your program is doomed to fail from the very start.
That said, even lower-level leadership needs to be on board to get your program off the ground. Teams follow the example of their leaders. If a team leader decides to focus on improving customer experience, their teams will often follow suit.
Engagement and collaboration, especially with your customer experience management team
If your VoC program is to survive and provide tangible business solutions, you will need a fully committed and engaged workforce. Engagement creates an atmosphere of collaboration and synergy that, when done correctly, should translate into a better customer experience (cx).
Understanding your workforce is key to creating impactful engagement. Creating a formal employee experience program is one of the best ways to create engagement amongst your staff.
Your company needs to be in complete alignment, meaning that everyone, from top management to bottom, agrees with the same vision, and everyone knows what job they should be doing to move the organization towards its goals. It needn't be said that a unified company is more effective than a fractured company.
Learning to listen
VoC is all about listening to your customer and giving them what they want. As such, you will need to learn to listen to your customer without previous judgements or bias. Listen to their feedback and customer experience with an open mind.
Social media, forums and online reviews are great sources to collect unfiltered feedback. It's important that as you build your program, you learn to pivot on a dime as your customers' preferences change over time.
Time and commitment
Improving a company that revolves around customer culture will take time and commitment. It may take years to achieve your VoC goals. Customer-centrism is a mindset. Instilling this mindset into the core of a business takes time and dedication.
The culture will be altered, processes refined, and analyses will be tested and retested. The process will grow and evolve until one day, you won't be able to recognize your business because of how far you've come. As long as the leadership understands the time and commitment needed along the way, your vision will eventually come to fruition.
For additional real life voice of customer examples, check out our post here.
Your Business Will Thrive with an Effective VoC Strategy
If you want to improve customer satisfaction and loyalty, implementing an effective Voice of the Customer program is the way to go. You will become a hero to your customers and lead your competitors in customer satisfaction.
If you’re interested in building a Voice of the Customer program that will give your customers everything they want and transform your business in the process, Starlight Analytics can help. Our social listening services and proprietary data modeling techniques will help you identify the key insights you need to connect on a deeper level with your customers.