In today’s fast-paced digital world of business, it can be overwhelming to keep up with customers’ ever-changing demands and expectations — especially in the online sphere. Marketing to customers is no longer a one-way street. Your audience is actively telling you what they want, are finicky about having their desires and needs met, and engage only with brands who listen to them.
With the variety of choices available to them today, it’s easy for customers to pick and drop businesses at a click of a button. Your business needs to pay attention and listen to the voice of the customer, gather feedback constructively and use it to your advantage. Finding voice of the customer solutions (VoC) is a crucial step towards delivering satisfaction and value to your clientele. Let’s look more closely.
What is ‘voice of the customer’ (VoC)?
It's exactly what you think it is: your ability to listen to what your customers are telling you. It goes beyond simply obtaining feedback.- listen to their wants, needs, likes, dislikes, expectations, desires and emotions to gain accurate insights. The VoC process goes on to you actioning these insights to making informed business decisions and improving the areas of your business they pertain to.
Why your business needs to look at VoC
The VoC helps businesses get a complete picture of their target customer, helps strengthen the bond between customer and brand and drives growth for your business. VoC not just enables you to collect valuable customer data, but centres on grasping the knowledge and utilising it usefully. Some benefits of incorporating VoC into your business strategy include:
- Enabling you to improve your products and services by meeting the needs of your customers to provide what they really want
- Gain a better understanding of your brand from insightful feedback, and help you maintain a good reputation as a business that cares about what the customer has to say
- Stay ahead of your competitors by evaluating and innovating your ideas, solutions and offerings.
Voice of the customer vs customer experience
Voice of the customer and customer experience may sound identical in theory, but there are a few differences between the two. The voice of the customer works together with customer experience disciplines to share the ultimate goal of improving customer satisfaction. Businesses need to use the insights obtained from VoC to create an exceptional customer experience. Many businesses choose to use customer experience software to retain and engage their clients after learning more about their VoC.
The below techniques of obtaining VoC have a direct impact on what a business will do next to maintain customer loyalty, increase satisfaction and build trust - the core principles that drive positive customer experiences.
Techniques for gathering voice of the customer
Gathering the voice of the customer starts by generating valuable customer feedback. To know what the customer has to say, you just need to ask! The below channels allow you to collect customer feedback in areas where you can acutely focus on VoC.
With 50% of the global population are active on social media, you have almost 4 billion users to tap into and to engage in two-way communications with. Social media has revolutionised the way customers interact with and talk about businesses - news travels fast, especially bad news. And the same holds true across social media platforms, so pay close attention to what people are saying about you and provide them with what they want.
Social media is filled with people eager to voice their opinion, but there are also plenty of lurkers carefully watching what is transpiring in front of them. Stay on top of the comments you get on all your posts, and respond to negativity quickly but with professionalism. A bad comment can cost you potential customers and encourage more negativity amongst the rest of the voices online.
Speak to your customers in a tone of voice and language that appeals to them. Each social media platform has its own set of rules; you can’t post funny memes on LinkedIn and expect your audience to engage with it positively - they expect that from you on Facebook or Instagram. Another key thing to remember on social media is to look at what customers are saying on your competitor’s pages. Learn from their mistakes, offer solutions and see how you can do better.
An extremely effective way of gathering feedback and knowing how your customers are feeling is through live chats. Live chat captures your customer’s reactions, tone and voice in real-time as they seek solutions and answers immediately. You reduce the number of dissatisfied customers and minimise the amount of time and effort you spend on customer service by enabling live chat features on your app and website.
Live chat gives you access to direct and private information that you would otherwise not be privy to. As soon as a customer starts chatting, you will be able to tell how formal their tone is, how urgent their query is, identify frequently asked questions and offer them a personalised service on the spot. The more customers you interact with on live chat, the more standardised responses you’ll be able to create - saving valuable time.
A traditional, yet effective, method of collecting VoC data, surveys can be targeted to large groups of customers at once and are quite cost-effective to manage. Before you send out a survey, identify your end goal. What are you going to do with the data you get from them? This will help you form specific and a limited number of questions without frustrating the customer answering them.
Ask open-ended questions that encourage your customers to share their feelings and thoughts without holding back. Start with a simple question and then ask them to elaborate, and make sure to include both quantitative and qualitative questions to get the most value out of them for your business. To obtain insight on specific features you can make use of multiple-choice or ‘yes/no’ questions that force the customer to make a decision and provide you with a result.
To accurately assess the voice of your customer, make sure that your survey is mobile optimised. Here’s why: customers are going to fill out your survey only when they have spare time on their hands, and that is usually when they are browsing on their mobile devices. You also want to offer a simple and responsive survey platform to ease your customer into it and make them want to fill it out for you until the end.
Almost every online customer says that online customer reviews play a direct role in influencing their purchase decisions. Reviews not only sway the viewpoints of potential customers, but they add to your online reputation score as well. Most companies prefer to use review websites to have one platform for all their customer and business reviews to come to, which often makes managing them easier and also allows you to gather all customer feedback on a single platform.
It's important to set aside sufficient time regularly (at least once a week) to sift through and respond to all your reviews. From social media to search engines, review websites to apps, reviews are everywhere. Try and identify patterns and use them to your advantage to improve your business and try new things. Have the negative feelings turned positive over time? Can you do anything to keep up their positive attitudes for longer? Dig deeper into each review to look for hidden meanings and sentiments that you can use to your advantage.
Emails are a great way to stay in constant touch with your customer and keep your brand fresh in their minds. You can send out your surveys through email and also email regular newsletters, updates and announcements.
Personalised emails yield a must higher conversion rate than other marketing emails and even more than social media. Hence, emails play an important role in identifying your VoC and you can use it to conduct A/B testing across different demographics, styles and email content to see what responds the best.
Use the tone your audience expects from you and one that entices them to open your email. The subject line and description is key to getting an ‘open’, so put most of your efforts into that.
This is a must-have on any website today. Your customer needs to have a way to contact you and a web-page form with ample space for them to fill out and submit their feedback is very useful. A contact form is also a great way to collect quick information from potential leads and add them to your email list.
Feedback forms make you more accessible to the customers, it offers a convenient method of communication and you can customise them with all the necessary fields they need to fill out to provide valuable information, unique to your business. Incorporating forms into your webpage makes the task of collecting feedback automated, and will help you track which leads are more likely to convert.
Using VoC for your business
It's important to establish clear goals before undertaking the voice of customer strategy for your business. Note down what you want to achieve at the end of it, the resources you will use to achieve them and by what timeline. Not all voice of the customer solutions mentioned here will work for your business, so track the results of each and stick to what works for you.