What is the Voice of the Customer?

Businesses are constantly speaking to their customer base using a strategic blend of marketing channels and public relations to optimize engagement. It’s an easy way to control their message, create customer loyalty, drive customer retention and leverage a consistent brand image. But how much listening do they do?

Listening to the customer is incredibly important and failing to engage with actionable, data driven intelligence can result in customer dissatisfaction and a deterioration of the customer relationship. This skill is especially important in the early stages of product and service development. Ensuring satisfaction from the beginning of the customer journey can help reduce the likelihood of waste and rework later.

The Voice of the Customer (VoC) is a process to help organizations drive continuous improvement and innovation through insight gained from customer feedback data. This can be a massive undertaking, so without a clearly defined methodology for understanding the customer experience and anticipating customer priorities, you are potentially setting your organization up for disaster.

What are the consequences of not listening to the VoC?

Companies are increasingly held to account on the very public platform of social media when their products or services fail. Think about all the times you’ve seen a customer dissatisfaction message go viral, essentially setting the business back financially and causing the organization to go on the defensive. This is a direct result of failing to understand the wants and needs of your customer by employing ethnographic tools for business success.

How many of those ruinous tweets or Facebook posts could have been avoided if those companies had listened to their customers along the way? There is an incredible amount of customer data, metrics, text and marketing analytics that give the organization the customer insights that can create a positive brand experience and meet business objectives.

What does the customer need?

This is the big question, and one that companies spend millions of dollars trying to ascertain. The VoC can be broken down into three different kinds of customer needs, each of which should be approached using different tools and strategies:

  1. Stated Needs: These are needs the customer can articulate and which can be captured using tools like focus groups, surveys, feedback forms, interviews, customer satisfaction surveys, customer complaints… the list goes on.
  2. Implied Needs: The customer is not necessarily going to articulate these needs because they seem obvious and not worth explaining.
  3. Silent Needs: These are the most difficult to understand, as silent needs are not vocalized or perhaps even realized by the customers themselves.

How can I use VoC in my organization?

Businesses can identify the three types of needs listed above by utilizing various qualitative and quantitative market research tools to understand the context, relationships and priorities of their customer base.  There are four steps to listening to and implementing the VoC:

  1. Organize
  2. Prioritize
  3. Analyze
  4. Apply

For a detailed description of each customer-centric methodology download this FREE Insight Report by Graham Freeman and Nicole Radziwill, or look for the next blog on how to integrate stated customer needs into your product and service development processes using the four steps outlined above.

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