Capturing the Voice of the Customer (VoC) is widely regarded as one of the best methods for gaining insights into customer preferences, requirements, and feedback about a product, service, or company as a whole. These insights are valuable to businesses seeking to boost customer satisfaction, develop new products and services in line with customer demands, reduce customer churn, and generally pursue a path of continuous improvement in all areas of the business.
But is your business accurately capturing the VoC and leveraging those insights to better serve your customers? Are you overlooking some of the most valuable yet under-utilized ways to capture customer opinions and sentiments? To learn about the various methods for capturing the VoC that too often go overlooked by today’s customer-facing organizations, we asked a panel of marketing and sales experts to weigh in on this question:
“What’s the most under-utilized way to capture the voice of the customer (and what can businesses do to better leverage it)?”
Meet Our Panel of Marketing and Sales Pros:
Read on to find out what our experts have to say about the most under-utilized methods for capturing the Voice of the Customer and how you can better leverage those strategies.
Shayla Price creates and promotes content. She lives at the intersection of digital marketing, technology, and social responsibility. Originally from Louisiana, Shayla champions access to remote work opportunities.
“One of the best ways to capture the voice of the customer is through…”
Social listening. Most companies only pay attention to social media when a crisis breaks out. Instead, they can leverage social media by monitoring customers’ comments, and asking their followers questions.
Nicole Brown, founder of Graphic Brown, provides entrepreneurs, businesses and non-profits excellent service in helping them to leverage the power of visual communication for financial gain, to spread a positive message, and to help their communities thrive. Graphic Brown also collaborates with marketing and branding firms to provide virtual creative support.
“The most underutilized way to capture the voice of the customer is…”
Businesses tend to use social media to push content on customers such as offers, tips, basic marketing and promotion. They don’t take time to ask questions and mine the feedback that can be used to improve customer relations, create new products, or increase brand recognition.
Gene is co-founder of GreenPal, which has been described Uber for lawn care.
“One of the best and most under-utilized ways to capture the voice of the customer is…”
Allowing them the opportunity to give feedback at every junction and every page of your website is not used enough.
Without getting instant feedback from your customer, you have lost the opportunity to hear what they have to say.
Vitaliy Verbenko is a customer service manager at Helprace, a help desk, knowledge base and customer feedback software. Helprace is designed to be used across a wide range of industries including technology, government, media, retail, and is scalable for businesses of all sizes.
“Customer feedback can be collected in a number of creative ways…”
One obvious way is to simply ask for it. This can be done during your support interactions, during your welcome email or exit surveys. The key here is to take every opportunity to talk with customers – whether it’s a phone conversation, a chat session, a social mention or a blog post comment.
The questions you should ask obviously depend on what your users are doing at a certain point in time. Did they have a good or bad experience with your product? What led up to that experience? Was there anything specific (a feature, etc.) that improved operations? Remember that every customer has their own goals when using your product. Ask open-ended questions to determine what problems they’re trying to solve and how your product fits into their bigger picture.
Derek Mabie is the president and founder of Evolve Digital Labs. Evolve supports a growing client list with operations in St. Louis, Kansas City and Denver. Mabie’s insight on digital marketing has shaped effective digital strategy for brands like Merck, Enterprise and Charter. He loves sharing his knowledge on search, strategy and data-driven growth.
“The most under-utilized way to capture the voice of the customer is…”
Keyword research. Keyword research is an integral part of search engine optimization and successful paid search campaigns; it highlights the total online market opportunity for brands and organizations.
Keywords reveal the consumer mindset. Digging into keyword research is like opening the mind of the consumer to understand the information they’re looking for, and how they will seek it out. We call keyword research customer language analysis because that is exactly what it is.
Keywords are the phrases that will be typed into search engines by a consumer to trigger your site organically or an ad in AdWords or Bing. The more relevant your keywords and content are to the query the more likely your site or ad is served.
Effective keyword research should identify your primary customer and what their needs are online. It should also highlight their desired outcomes and the jobs they’re trying to complete. You can also use keyword research to identify the “Total Market” (how many people are searching) and the “True Market”, the segments where your target primary customers are.
Grant van der Harst is the Managing Director of Anglo Liners.
“Feedback surveys are fantastic ways…”
Of actively showing the customer you care about their opinion and that you are working to provide a service which reflects their primary needs. After a week or so has passed, send your customer an email with an invitation to complete a short survey (perhaps with an incentive, such as the chance to win a 20% refund on their purchase). Limit yourself to about seven questions, giving them the option to leave a comment on their own personal experience; if you accumulate some very similar customer comments, you will be able to gain a good idea of what changes you need to make in order to capture the voice of your customer.
Björgvin Benediktsson helps artists and entrepreneurs make a greater impact with their creations through marketing and audio production. Find more marketing advice on bbenediktsson.com and audio tips at audio-issues.com.
“The best way I’ve found to capture the voice of the customer is…”
To survey my audience at the start of an on-boarding sequence to get to know them better and what their problems are. That way you can both get ideas for content and products to help them out, but you can also use their vocabulary and problems to accurately address their concerns in their voice, which is helpful for structuring marketing materials such as sales pages.
Deborah Sweeney is the CEO of MyCorporation.com. MyCorporation is a leader in online legal filing services for entrepreneurs and businesses, providing start-up bundles that include corporation and LLC formation, registered agent, DBA, and trademark & copyright filing services.
“Not enough business owners ask for feedback from their customers in the form of…”
A survey. We often include surveys in our monthly newsletters or send out separate emails polling our customers on their likes, dislikes, and preferences concerning our business. If you let your customers know that you’re gathering this information to better their experience, you’ll likely get a pretty good response. It’s a win-win for everyone. You find out exactly how your customers want to be treated and your customers get to know you care enough to ask.
Chris Woolard is responsible for the sale, design, implementation, account management and consulting for Walker Information clients’ employee and customer assessment programs. He focuses on employee loyalty consulting and is considered Walker’s employee loyalty expert. He has also worked with many companies on customer due diligence solutions.
“Lots of people use surveys and that can lead to survey fatigue for customers…”
One of the best, most under-utilized ways to learn what customers think is by capturing the voice of the customer through the employee (VOCE).
Voice of the customer through the employee is all about understanding the customer by asking the employees who work with them the most.
Customer-facing employees can provide a wealth of customer intelligence as they have firsthand knowledge, they’re easily accessible and they have a vested interest in your company’s success.
However, there’s a method to doing it right. VOCE isn’t a one-shot deal; it must be kept in context, integrating it with insight gained through other feedback methods.
Lyndi Catania is a Marketing Associate at Always Found, a digital marketing company located in New York.
“The most underutilized way to capture the voice of the customer is…”
On-site reviews. Businesses can offer this by investing in a platform, like Yotpo. Consumer-generated content helps a brand gain trust, and can even increase sales and search engine visibility.
In addition, word of mouth is a powerful marketing tool and the convenience of on-site reviews encourages consumers to leave comments.
With 22 years of high tech experience, Kathleen is an award-winning marketing professional well-versed in driving high-value enterprise marketing, strategy and communications in global aerospace and solutions industries for 48 West Agency. Kathleen is an expert in conceptualizing and developing marketing campaigns that consistently reflect business strategies and effectively achieve program goals. Additionally, her expertise includes account based marketing and marketing automation implementations.
“Companies should consider leveraging an Account Based Marketing (ABM)
approach when thinking through their Voice of the Customer strategy…”
Far too often, companies rely upon surveys or cumbersome techniques like Net Promoter Score to understand what their customers think of them and what they want out of the relationship. Surveys can end up muting the results when there are responses that conflict. An ongoing ABM strategy means you are always in a relationship-based dialogue with your customers.
With an ABM approach, companies work 1:1 with a subset of their customers based on pre-defined criteria including the top customers they want to grow revenue with or their highest volume customers. In those personalized and targeted interactions, each customer will define what an exemplary experience with your company would/should look like. The outcome of the meeting should be 3-5 clearly defined and measurable objectives your company commits to report out on during intervals the customer chooses. These objectives could include first call resolution percentages, response time commitments, or thresholds for on-time deliveries. The important point is that each customer involved in the program believes you have developed an operating system unique to them. But the secret is really that any new processes you put in place to address one customer’s needs will likely benefit the majority of your other customers and drive overall improved customer sentiment.
Chip R. Bell is a renowned keynote speaker on innovative service and customer loyalty. He’s also authored several best-selling books, with his newest book being Kaleidoscope: Delivering Innovative Service that Sparkles.
“Every company has a secret intelligence gathering resource…”
The front line. They are the most underutilized means for capturing the voice of the customer. When customer-facing employees—whether face-to-face, ear-to-ear, or click-to-click—are asked to be customer intelligence scouts they typically reveal brilliance about issues, themes and trends. When their information is valued and used, it sharpens and focuses their pursuit of more and deeper customer feedback. When leaders bring their special perspective into the boardroom, it leads to a much richer understanding of what matters most to customers.
Holly Wolf is the director of marketing for SOLO Labs in Kutztown, PA.
“I believe the best tool for capturing the voice of the customer is…”
Periodic calls to the customers from company execs. Each exec makes 10 calls per quarter to customers just to see how things are going with them. It should be the CEO, CFO, CTO…and C-level exec and perhaps a few others.
That way no exec can say, “It’s not my job.” It’s tough to be on a call when a customer says, “I hate the way you…” Each person is responsible for reporting and resolving any issues that came up on the call. Wendy Whiner in customer service who constantly complains that we need to fix that issue in the system–now has support when one of the C-level execs heard it first-hand.
It’s no longer marketing’s job or sales job; everybody hears about the good and the bad. Plus, customers are thrilled to talk to a high-level exec.
If you want to really know what the customer thinks, call him, ask her. Listen, compare notes, fix the problems.
Sean Desilva is the owner of EveryLastSpot.
“You can stop guessing, and directly lift customer phrasing of their problems off of…”
Amazon reviews. This applies to services as well. As a service provider myself, I will look for books that cover the subject area of my business. We have recycled customer phrasing right back into our advertisements, sometimes going as far as to headline a customer phase in quotes. The results have generally been positive (probably because we’re not guessing anymore, but using the customer’s own words and feeding it back).
Kelly Ehlers is the founder and president of Ideas That Evoke, an Inc. 500 Social Media Agency, a Madison, Wis.-based social media and PR agency works with brands in the beauty, luxury, hospitality and lifestyle industries.
“Social media has been one of the most overlooked forms of marketing until recent years…”
And now it’s exploding in a big way. Social media is authentic, it’s the heartbeat of the consumer brand conversation, people share their likes and dislikes over multiple platforms in a very public way. Having a strong social media presence can go a long ways to boost your brand in the eyes of consumers. Responding to both negative and positive feedback is a great way to start a conversation with your consumers and get a feel for your audiences likes and dislikes, as well as showing you have genuine concern for their experience with your brand.
Chelsey is a Marketing Coordinator at The Enclave Hotel & Suites who is dedicated to implementing effective marketing strategies and increasing online traffic. When she’s not
buried in data, she loves to spend time rock climbing with her daughter.
“One under-utilized way to capture the voice of the customer is…”
A flash sale is a great way to get customers talking about your business. It’s a time-tested method of influencing customers to make an immediate purchase. The goal is to create a sense of urgency by offering a significant discount on either a product or service for a very short period of time. I’ve seen the most success come from informing customers of the sale at the very last minute and limiting the availability of the product or service. And, of course, making the announcement through email marketing and social media can lead to word-of-mouth marketing. Hearing of a great deal from someone you know and trust can greatly impact a customer’s decision process. It’s been proven to be more successful than any other type of marketing strategy out there and can be very effective for capturing the voice of the customer.
Drew Cerullo is the owner and CEO of Better Profit Growth, a company that helps business owners achieve the growth they want—using proprietary research methods and the specific strategies proven to increase their bottom line in their market. He also really likes dogs and monkeys.
“To capture the right voice for a marketing message, you have to first understand…”
Your prospect’s situation—and you don’t do that by theorizing in your office. You have to keep an ongoing conversation with them to figure that out.
There are four elements to capturing their voice and connecting with them:
First, the customer has a problem you can solve—but they don’t perceive that problem the same way you do. You have to remove your preconceptions about their problem and understand what it looks like from their vantage point. Additionally, you have to understand what your prospect fears most related to the problem.
Second, your prospect believes there exists a reality where all their needs are met regarding this problem and they’ll live happily ever after. It may be a complete fantasy and unrealistic, but in order to communicate with them correctly you have to drop your preconceptions and find out what that idealized reality is.
Third, you have to find out what, from their perspective, will get them to that idealized reality. Many people in your market will think they know what will get them there, but are wrong about it. That’s okay. You’re looking to find out what it is so you can address it in your marketing message.
Fourth, you have to figure out what, from their perspective, is a realistic time frame to solve their problem. Again, your market may be completely wrong about this, but in your marketing you have to meet them where they’re at. Promise results too quickly, and your market will think it sounds too good to be true. Promise results too slowly, and it doesn’t sound appealing to them.
This is a solid formula that works in any market—B2B or B2C. I’ve used it to sell everything from cleaning products to parenting advice to our own marketing services! It’s part of how we create customer surveys and other market research methods to find the message that gets results. Getting straight on these four things helps the effectiveness of your marketing DRASTICALLY. We’ve got data to prove it.
Travis is the Marketing Team Leader for a well-known pet insurance company – PetPlan. Aside from caring about the health and wellness of animals, he enjoys creating digital works of art and exploring different countries around the world.
“One of the best ways to capture the voice of the customer is to…”
Leverage social media the right way. With the general population using social media now more than ever, it’s proven to be one of the most effective ways to interact with customers and get their feedback. Of course, creating a post on Facebook and asking them a simple question is not going to grab their attention. Businesses might not receive the interaction with their customers that they had been hoping for and the results could be quite deceiving.
A more effective approach would be to offer some sort of incentive to draw users in and to create more engaging content. For example, a post that asks users what kind of sale they would like to see in the future. Give 3 different scenarios and then ask users to vote would be a more eye-catching post than just writing a quick sentence or two in the form of a question. Users will more likely want to engage the post in hopes of the sale actually happening. As if that’s not already a good reason for them to voice their opinion, users will feel even more inclined to answer if they are offered a discount code to use in exchange for their response.
A post like this will not only drive sales and create customer interaction but it also allows businesses to learn about their customers and see the types of sales they prefer. With this data, companies can adjust their marketing strategies to only use the most effective tactics which will ultimately bring them the biggest revenue.
Chris Cummings is the founder and CEO of Pass It Down, an award-winning digital storytelling platform. Chris is an entrepreneur and attorney with over 10 years of experience
in the software industry.
“One of the most under-utilized ways to capture the voice of the customer is…”
Engaging customers through personalized experiences.
Pass It Down allows users to upload video, audio, text and photos so that consumers can share their story, their way.
Giving consumers the freedom to share their story in multi-media formats creates a personalized experience by allowing them to share their emotions along with their feedback. Licensing the platform provides organizations with high-quality information, they can customize every question prompt to obtain targeted information.
Consumers will feel like their voice is truly being heard when a representative responds to their video or audio clip (unlike a response to a hastily typed out comment or review), and businesses will benefit from the detailed feedback they receive. This information can be leveraged to improve customer relationships, assist with market research, and uncover useful information that will encourage business growth. All stories are integrated with major social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest so that they can be shared to improve social media marketing efforts.
Serena Holmes is President and CEO of Tigris Events, an event staffing and experiential marketing agency based in Toronto.
“One under-utilized strategy for capturing the voice of the customer is…”
To hire staff that are similar to your customers. If your target customer is college students, for example, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to hire a team of employees that are all over the age of 40. In this case, younger staff that are closer to the age of your customers are going to be able to provide your company with better insight into how your customer base thinks and perceives your product or service.
In addition, businesses must pay attention to whom they use to convey their image and message. Consumers have a greater affinity to brands that are represented by people similar to themselves. This includes age, language, culture, skills, and beliefs. A brand is more than just a product or service. It’s the experience customers associate with a company.
Ultimately, businesses can capture the voice of customers by hiring staff that share similar values and interests as their customers. This allows companies to utilize their employees to better understand customer behavior, and to create a brand that is relatable to their target audience.
Tyler Riddell is the Director of Marketing at Directive Consulting with over 15 years of experience in Marketing, Product Management, Advertising, and Public Relations. Proven track record for successful go to market and corporate communication programs in multiple vertical tech markets.
“I think that businesses should pay closer attention to…”
What is being said about them on social media.
A lot of customers like to release their true feelings about a business via social media and even on Yelp! An important part about social media is engaging with your customers. By doing this, you will be able to receive raw feedback, create a fan base, and develop brand
Sean Martin is the Marketing Manager at Directive Consulting. They publish thought leadership in Moz, PPC Hero, Wordstream, Sitepoint, Crazy Egg, and other industry leading sites and speak at State of Search, SMXwest, and Digital Summit. They specialize in comprehensive B2B search marketing campaigns.
“One method for capturing the voice of the customer that I’ve noticed lately is…”
That a lot of phone-apps and games have started implementing pop-ups to rate the app when their users are in-app or playing the game. It’s not a bad way to get some quick reviews and user data. But I think they are approaching it the wrong way.
This may be conjecture – but I feel that the game apps are inserting the “rate me” pop-ups in the middle of the gaming experience for a reason: the more they can disrupt the gamer, the more likely they are to click 5 stars just to get rid of the pop-up. This is why so many low-quality in-app games have 5-star overall ratings even though you as a human know they aren’t 5-star level…at all.
This is a great stat booster for the app developers – but it’s not way to report and improve upon your customers’ valuable inputs. Instead, I would consider changing these “rate me” popups to only show upon exiting the app. This way you can rest assured that you aren’t interrupting the actual in-app experience. AND – you can use this moment of exodus to try to get more accurate data on why users are leaving the app and optimize your UX to keep them playing the game longer.
Ben Walker is the CEO for Transcription Outsourcing, LLC .
“The most underutilized way to capture the voice of the customer is…”
Human-produced and edited transcription will capture exactly what was said and provide the most accurate data possible. It will cost more than voice recognition and will produce way better results.
Josh Brown is the Content & Community Manager at Fieldboom. Fieldboom allows businesses and marketers to gather customer feedback and capture leads with beautiful online forms and surveys that can be created easily within minutes.
“One underutilized method of collecting the voice of the customer is…”
Asking the right questions. Too often businesses, when collecting feedback, will ask vague questions like, “How can we improve?” which will typically lead to poor feedback from their customers or only ask yes or no questions which, while useful to lead a customer to another question, won’t give your customer the ability to express themselves.
Asking the specific questions that can provide you with actionable feedback is key to collecting useful data that can be used to truly understand a customer.
For example, instead of asking, “How can we improve?” ask, “How can we improve on our response time?” Or instead of, “Did you like our customer support?” ask, “What can we do to improve our customer support?” Always word your questions in a way that get your customers thinking of solutions, not simply responding with “yes” or “no.”
Eva Spitzer founder and designer of Peony and Moss, beautiful women’s socks. She started the business three years ago with just 6 designs. She later developed their best-selling thigh high sweater socks, and led the brand to be sold at Nordstrom, boutiques worldwide, and on www.peonyandmoss.com.
“The best way to capture the voice of the customer is through…”
I have a brand of women’s socks, and I found out over half of my customers are men buying gifts for women.
As Head of Growth Marketing at Bilingua, Guy helps to build processes which attract, engage, retain and delight our users in their language learning journey.
“Not enough companies ask their customers directly…”
Are you happy? Are we doing a good job? What can we do better? And even fewer are able to do it in an automated, scalable way. I’m not talking about surveys – people are sick to death of surveys – I’m talking about plain-text emails and non-intrusive in-app pop-ups with a text box asking one simple question. The tech implementation is important here – it must be easy and non-intrusive from the users side, it must be automated so it’s easily scalable, and it must be visible to your team so everyone hears and understands the voice of the customer. We have a team Slack channel that has a constant stream of user emails and feedback responses coming in – this helps our developers to understand the pains and problems our users experience and catch bugs early. It can be hard to connect developers with the users perspective but we’ve found this to be both effective and scalable.
Sandy Geroux, M.S. is an international speaker with a passion for helping leaders and associates create WOW experiences for everyone around them. Author of three books, she has helped over 25,000 attendees find ways to engage their workforce and turn their workplace into a WOWplace.
“One of the most under-utilized ways to capture the voice of the customer is…”
To implement a procedure that focuses on doing so and fully leverages the responses received. Too often, customer service representatives either fail to ask what can be done better, or worse, tell any customer who makes a suggestion that there is nothing they can do; that’s not our policy – and even in an extreme case, let their personal frustrations show through as shown in the following actual response received by one customer: “Well, I can tell them, but they won’t do anything about it – they never do!”
1. Train customer service representatives ask (every time), “What can we do to make your experience with us even better next time?”
2. Train them to listen and converse with the customer (not simply read a script, ignore the response, and then move on to the next piece of the script).
3. Provide a method of capturing the response in a format that can be utilized, summarized and acted upon.
4. Leaders must review and act upon the responses and suggestions.
Start small, with one select group of customer service representatives. This will minimize the impact of the program on both customers and employees if it doesn’t work well and allow you to work out small kinks at the start. When the initial problems are ironed out, a workable program can be rolled out to the rest of the organization.
Business cannot be transacted in a vacuum, so one of the biggest traps businesses fall into is trying to guess or assume what the customer wants. When businesses guess, products and services are created but don’t sell, because customers neither want nor need them. Proper research is necessary to create products and services that customers crave and will rave about to everyone they know. But in order to do this (in most cases, Steve Jobs being a notable exception to this rule, given his talent for identifying new products customers didn’t even know they wanted), the best way to accomplish this goal is to ask the customers what they would like to have – and how they would like to have it.
Although it is not easy to capture, follow up on and implement customer suggestions and feedback, the simplified process above is a good start toward capturing and acting upon your customers’ wishes, giving them a voice in how you do business with them.
Martin Brown is General Manager at FM Outsource and Gnatta. His years of experience in Customer Service and Tech sectors keeps both businesses on the leading edge of industry developments.
“For me the most under-utilized way to capture the voice of the customer is…”
To get this data in the channel they’re in. We often send emails with links to forms following a call, which means we have just taken a customer on the voice channel, sent them a communication in a second channel (the email) asking them to use a third channel (the web based survey)! Not a great experience.
I believe we need to keep the customer in channel when capturing this data so consider these options:
- Voice – post call DTMF tones to grab CSat easily and allow the customer to record any notes and transcribe them to text automatically, or just do the whole thing voice to text
- Web chat – post chat survey
- Facebook – PM the request using an AI tool
- Twitter – they have recently launched a new tool that allows you to get this data in a DM
- SMS – send a text with a simple method to get feedback
So, for me it is all about convenience and latency. As soon as your customer has spoken to you, ask them to let you know what they think immediately following the conversation.
To leverage this valuable data it needs to be centralized, so that ‘channel’ is just another data parameter and isn’t causing the need to store data separately. This should also mean you focus on aggregating all the feedback so if, over time, a customer uses many of these channels you are getting their feedback across them all (sometimes the same issue will pop up in multiple channels).
Therefore, this is all about the tools you use to do this. At FM Outsource we use Gnatta to do this and even plug in an AI engine to give us sensible workflows. If we are concerned by feedback, we can route it to an agent to help recover the customer.
Andrew Dalglish is co-founder and CEO of B2B market research company Circle Research.
“There are dozens of ways to capture the voice of the customer…”
Each bringing a slightly different perspective. For example, surveys are good at providing feedback on a specific question the organization has, whereas analyzing complaint logs provides insights into the issues customers face on a day-to-day basis. As each source adds to the wider picture, the smartest organizations capture the voice of the customer in multiple ways and then use this data set to create an integrated, comprehensive view. They also remember that this is just a means to an end – they use the voice of the customer to create detailed action plans to improve the customer experience.
Communities in particular are an especially valuable but under-utilized source of customer insights. These communities usually comprise 300 – 500 customers picked to represent different segments in the market. They’re invited to join a closed online forum where over the course of weeks, months and even years the organization engages them in a virtual discussion. This discussion might be about something the organization wants to explore, but it can equally be about something customers want to raise spontaneously. Customers can also engage directly with each other and by observing these conversations the organization can learn more about their motivations and experiences. Communities like this are incredibly valuable as they provide rich insights and, by allowing customers to guide the discussion, ensure that the organization is truly listening.
Swapnil Bhagwat is Senior Manager – Design & Digital Media and implementing marketing, social, content, digital, web and design strategies for the group companies. He is an MBA graduate with work experience in the US, UK and Europe. Swapnil has worked for more than a decade across a range of businesses for the global markets.
“In capturing the voice of the customer…”
Companies collect a lot of information, but the data is often siloed. The best practice is to take an inventory of the collected feedback, identify the gaps, and chalk out a roadmap for improving the process of collection of customers’ feedback.
Prescriptive analytics should be applied using Enterprise Feedback Management (EFM) platforms, speech and text mining tools, social listening tools and data visualization tools. Predictive and prescriptive analytics would provide customer insights and recommendations from these unstructured data to take action in a personalized and relevant manner. A properly managed program of capturing the voice of customers (VOC) and an effective
customer feedback system (CFM) should lead to improved customer experience, high customer value, and lower the cost to serve.
AJ Saleem is the Director of Suprex Tutors Houston, a leading private tutoring and test prep company based in Houston. AJ has created a big dent in the private tutoring market by offering well-trained, highly qualified teachers who are also dynamic instructors. The company also operates in New York and Chicago.
“The most under-utilized method for capturing the voice of the customer is simply…”
Voice recording. Call centers can train their new employees easier if they have access to a library of previous calls. It can also help with continuous agent training, which is key to effective call center management.
Sunny Hunt is a 20+ year marketing professional specializing in customers, her clients’ customers. She founded Hunt Interaction in 2012 with a sole mission: Help her clients find, convert, and keep customers that add value to her client’s bottom line.
“Companies are filled with busy people, and VoC tends to get pushed to the back-burner in favor of more obvious revenue-generating activities…”
The information that comes out of a properly structured and monitored VoC program can be a veritable goldmine of information that can make or break a company.
VoC information should be used to influence marketing and sales decisions as well as measure the ongoing changes in company perception. More specifically, the words, phrases, and any objections to purchase customers bring up should be utilized to inform marketing strategy and improve customer messaging and conversion.
Many companies rely on customer surveys to obtain critical VoC information because they’re easy, but a survey has two big drawbacks: 1 – people lie and lean on social desirability bias to make themselves look better, and 2 – a Likert scale doesn’t capture the language and tone that a customer uses. Surveys also have historically low response rates unless significant incentives are offered as a reward.
If surveys suck, how do you capture the best possible information with the lowest level of investment? Small businesses should routinely interview customers on a 1:1 basis via phone call or video chat. Larger businesses can institute a capture mechanism with sales and support staff who routinely interact with customers. Customer information can be captured in a shared spreadsheet (small businesses) or a database (larger businesses). Additionally, chat session logs, recorded phone calls, and support emails can also be mined quantitatively for specific phrases, in order to verify qualitative findings.
It takes a little bit of digging to find the nuggets of customer gold but if the effort improves conversion rates, customer retention, and customer advocacy, the investment is well worth it.
Matt is an accomplished Executive with BioClarity with a proven track record of driving exceptional results across multiple functions in e-commerce and consumer finance with particular strength in profitably growing businesses. Talented at building integrated brand marketing campaigns, he utilizes strengths in analytics and business acumen to drive decisions that deliver optimized budget deployment and increased profitability.
“The most under-utilized way to capture the voice of the customer is…”
By offering them a platform to give their voice! In today’s age of constant connection, consumers are yearning for the opportunity to share their voice. By giving them the necessary tools, they are able to share their voice with you directly, which you can then confidently incorporate into your future business decisions.
One way we’ve effectively incorporated the customer voice here at BioClarity is by integrating the purchaser directly into our website. You’ll notice on our product page about half way down we have a live Instagram feed for the hashtags #BioClarity and #NaturallyBetter. By doing this we’ve seen tremendous growth in our social media followers and customer engagement.
Similarly, right below the Instagram feed we also have a customer review section. Not only does this help with our conversion rates, but it also empowers our customers by allowing them to contribute their voice to the BioClarity digital experience. Additionally, it allows us to directly respond back to any questions or concerns, while keeping this information public for any future purchasers that may be feeling or thinking the same thing.
Bryan Koontz is the CEO and Founder of Guidefitter. Prior to Guidefitter, Mr. Koontz served as the Vice President of Vast, a web search and analytics company providing consumer search solutions for companies such as Yahoo, AOL, and Southwest Airlines.
“Capturing the voice of the customer can best be summed up as…”
Understanding the needs, wants, and expectations of your customer. Although we do not operate a traditional call center, or incorporate focus groups/surveys into product launches; but rather as an online community for individuals to connect and network, we are constantly looking for ways to improve the user experience. We find that face-to-face networking at industry expos and events opens the flow of feedback which helps to better understand our audience. More specifically, we involve the software engineers and creative
team in a client-facing role to improve communication and avoid the game of ‘telephone’ between departments that so often happens in large corporations.
Bottom line: Regardless of the industry you are in, include technical-based personnel in client conversations so that improvements can be made in real-time and the voice of the customer will be heard by the necessary people. If possible, face-to-face conversations with your customers will produce the most impactful feedback and give you the opportunity to provide exceptional customer service with a personal touch.
Elizabeth Gibson, Chief Content Officer for ezLandlordForms, has captivated both marketing and news audiences with her award-winning writing. She’s fascinated with disruptive innovations and technology’s applications in market research and improved customer experience. When she isn’t strategizing about messaging, she coaxes reluctant culinary herbs, discovers new coffee shops and devours good reads.
“We dialed back on the sales blasts in email marketing over the last few years, so that our customers would get…”
Real value for handing over their email addresses. We also changed our voice from informative to personal and interactive, and we limited the content in our messages. We saw improved open and click rates along with a truly unexpected engagement activity: Email recipients began to send replies to batch newsletter emails and even autoresponder emails. Sometimes, the reply is a brief, “Thanks! I’ll check it out.” Other times, it’s insightful commentary or suggestions for improvement.
We were totally caught off guard, but didn’t want to squander this organic feedback by letting replies dissipate unacknowledged into cyberspace. We immediately set up a system for replying to and storing these comments. We then used the comments to adapt existing live chat responses, and have since seen a boost in positive ratings. Now those volunteer replies are being used to frame an email campaign that targets segments of high-spend customers. The goal is to learn whether these customers feel we’re responsive to their support needs, with the call to action being a request to use our chat service.
The success we’ve had in capitalizing on customer observation that fell in our laps has made us more alert to unsolicited feedback we may get through other avenues.
Jim Miller is the Managing Director at Velo Glass.
“At a former employer, a division realized they had missed a great way of gathering VoC…”
Help line calls.
This division had a fairly dominant position in its market, with great share in distribution and healthy margins. This went on for years (decades maybe). Customer complaints were coming in on features that were wanted. One feature in particular was requested often. The tech service guys would categorize these and a clear trend emerged on the new feature they needed to develop. They assumed Marketing was reading though these complaints, or at least were aware of the summary and type.
A new competitor entered the market, bringing this new feature, and they decimated their sales. Worse, to try to keep share, they had to slash prices. The division went from being the dominant manufacturer, with great economies of scale resulting in good profit margins, to an also-ran that was barely profitable in under five years. The worst part was they had the data in house to show this was the direction the market was going (they didn’t have to spend on the VoC). Still, they missed it. Big time.
Amanda Thomas is the Sr. Director of Marketing at Liaison Technologies. With over five years of experience in marketing, operations, and sales, Amanda oversees Liaison’s many marketing activities including events, speaking engagements, demand generation, social media, customer advocacy, and SEO.
“Everyone is measuring voice of the customer through receipt surveys these days, but for some reason, most have overlooked…”
Mobile research. Mobile research as a methodology is superior because it allows researchers to talk to customers that walk out of a retail locations without buying anything (using the GPS tech in smartphones). Alternatively, receipt surveys only give you access to consumers who have purchased something.
Evan Harris is the co-founder and CEO of SD Equity Partners, a San Diego based money lender specializing in fix-and-flip loans. He places a heavy focus on making sure his customers get the best experience while working with his team.
“The best and most under-utilized ways to capture the voice of the customer are…”
All too often companies rely on online or over-the-phone surveys to gather feedback from the customer. Many customers are turned off by this tactic and find it spammy. Instead, ask for the customer’s feedback in person. Not only will this offer you more insight into what the customer is thinking, but it will add a personal touch that shows you care, making the customer feel like their opinion matters.
When attempting to capture the voice of the customer, it is imperative that you consider the entire customer journey. So, what are the stages of the customer journey?
- Awareness – This is when the customer is aware that they have anissue and is looking for a solution. They aren’t focused on specific products at this point, but rather a general solution to their newly identified problem.
- Consideration – Now that the customer is aware of a solution,they are weighing different options. Essentially, the customer is considering whether or not to choose you or go with one of your competitors.
- Decision – After considering all viable options, the customerwill decide what product or service best meets their needs.
Understanding these stages will help you more accurately capture the voice of the customer at their specific stage in the customer journey.
Bryan Clayton is the CEO of GreenPal, which is best described as Uber for Lawn Care.
“The best low hanging fruit but I have discovered for capturing the voice of the customer is…”
Through online reviews on sites such as Yelp, Google places reviews, Facebook reviews, Trip Advisor, and any other platform focused on your niche.
For some reason this is usually overlooked by business owners and entrepreneurs; however, it is the direct voice of the customer expressing their delight or dissatisfaction with your product or service.
Reviews are a candid and unvarnished source of the voice of the customer that can be looked on two for insight into customer logic and the internal thought sequences inside of your customers’ heads.
Jameson Slattery is the VP of Global Marketing for Colorescience.
“Social media has opened up the perfect doors to capturing not only customer voice…”
But also their unique views of your product, service, or establishment. Instagram in particular offers a chance to see your product through the customer’s eyes and read their exact thoughts tied directly to the image. With re-grams, you can offer your customers a chance to be recognized by your broader audience, which offers them incentive to make such posts in the first place.
Colorescience has used this kind of promotion extensively, with some customer insights receiving as many as 750+ views and corresponding numbers of comments and likes. Links to our Instagram can be found on the bottom of every page of our website, giving customers a chance to see what others say and improve their own buying experience. Inspired by the customers we feature, they post their own images and ideas with the hopes that we share their post too. This is a perfect way to capture the voice of the customer while also generating free, top-tier content for your social pages.
Maxime is an entrepreneur who works in the field of data analytics for Semeon Analytics, where he helps companies paint a full 360-degree view of their customers from textual data collected from public and internal sources.
“I think one of the most under-utilized ways to capture the voice of the customer is…”
Via big data. Hear me out: if I say that it is under-utilized, it is because we are currently at a transition phase where companies are starting to go from having localized data collection (e.g., Hertz used to do localized surveys for each of their 8600 locations!) to now proactively mining and collecting data (e.g., Lenovo, who now mines information from 60+ sources).
So, where companies would go with limited data and gut feelings, companies can now have statistical validity when they want to fully capture the voice of the customer.
What methods do you utilize capture the VoC, and how do you leverage those insights for better business results?