Utilizing customer feedback to gain actionable insights is critical to both customer retention and new business development. In today’s world of constant connection and information, businesses must invest in a customer centric practice to stand out among the plethora of companies vying for attention. So, how can you ensure you are consistently listening to customers and understanding customer feedback to strengthen your business?

Voice of the Customer Definition:

Voice of the Customer, also referred to as Voice of Customer or VoC, is a term used in business and information technology to describe the in-depth process of capturing customer expectations and experiences regarding your products and services. Voice of Customer programs often focus on customer needs, preferences, and continuous improvement.

Voice of the Customer is a widely used method that involves capturing customer expectations and insights, identifying the major customer satisfiers and dissatisfiers, and finally, utilizing that data to drive a company-wide initiative to prioritize customer success and happiness.

Positive Customer Service is Increasingly Important

What is the cost of poor customer experience? According to a 2018 report by NewVoiceMedia, About $75 billion annually — a $13 billion increase from 2016. This number will continue to grow as customers become savvier and have more access to information.

Additionally, customers who have an unpleasant experience are two to three times more likely to write an angry review than customers who had a great experience are to post a happy review. Because of this, it is critical that organizations continuously monitor their customer feedback to catch potential quality issues sooner rather than later.

Because customers have more access to information regarding companies’ products and services than ever before, a single negative review or social media post can influence whether a customer chooses company A or company B. With customers becoming more knowledgeable and demanding, it is essential for organizations to utilize this same information to identify customer dissatisfiers and drive continuous improvement.

Many Successful Companies Use VoC

While most businesses know that customer feedback is important, some may need more convincing to invest the time and money required to develop a VoC program. Did you know that some of the most successful companies in the world like Amazon, Apple and McDonalds are all heavily invested in VoC?

Customer service chats, emails and social media posts are some excellent sources of qualitative data that can help organizations understand what customers want. In 2015, McDonald’s started offering the all-day breakfast after tallying a total of 120,000 requests on Twitter from customers saying they wanted to be able to order an Egg McMuffin past 10:30 AM.

Apple CEO Tim Cook is known to respond to up to 100 customer service emails every day, and Jeff Bezos has been known to forward emails from unhappy customers to members of his team demanding issues be fixed immediately.

Now, not everybody has the time to read and address individual customer emails every day like Tim Cook or Jeff Bezos, so how can your organization implement VoC techniques to improve your products or services throughout the customer journey?

How Can You Implement a VoC Program?

It is important to consider that VoC is not only about customer support. You can use it to improve customer retention, satisfaction, and tangible outcomes as well through increased sales, referrals, and brand awareness.

Organizations do not need to rely solely on surveys or open dialogue to understand VoC. Many companies are harnessing the power of big data as VoC programs represent a massive opportunity to drive customer loyalty and new business development.

In general, a VoC program can be broken down into four simple steps. Following this format will give you the information you need to act faster and drive continuous improvement using VoC data.

1. Define the problem: What customer insights are you trying to capture?

It is critical to understand what problem you are trying to solve from your VoC program before you do anything else. This will help you define what data you need to capture and how best to analyze that data. For example, a fast-food chain that has released a new menu item will want to see how their customers are reacting. The goal of this VoC project would be to understand how customers are reacting to that new food item and if any improvements can be made. Now that we have identified what the objective is, we can begin to collect data.

2. Collect: Capture insightful feedback from your customers.

When collecting customer feedback, it is important to gather data from multiple channels to give yourself the most accurate representation of your customers. Certain audience segments may prefer social media channels, like TikTok or Twitter, while other segments may call or email the company directly, and others may prefer Yelp reviews or forum pages. It is important that you gather information from all of these channels to understand how your product or service is received by your entire customer base.

For the fast-food chain example, they will need to collect VoC data from sources such as Google reviews, Yelp reviews, social media posts, Reddit posts, etc. In addition to external data sources, it is also critical to collect feedback from internal sources, such as customer support live chats and emails.

3. Analyze: Extract the answers from your data.

This step is all about extracting actionable insights from your data. You decide how simple or complex you want your analysis to be based on your problem statement. It can be as simple as calculating the average customer rating of a product, or as complex as building machine learning models to extract pieces of information.

To analyze customer feedback in the fast-food chain example, they could utilize a natural language processing model that extracts and aggregates specific keywords from the data. Building a word cloud from this data would help the company understand how frequently these keywords are used regarding the new menu item. From here, they could also generate a sentiment analysis and see a breakdown of customers that had a positive, negative, or neutral sentiment with their feedback. Some keywords that could be helpful in this example are…

“tasty, delicious, not good, disappointed, dry, soggy, bland, burnt, fresh”

4.Act: Implement continuous improvement processes based on the insights from your VoC program.

Lastly, it is critical to act upon the findings from your VoC study. The whole point of a VoC program is to improve customer happiness. For the fast-food example, if the keyword “soggy” had a statistically significant presence in the data, the organization could take measures to understand why customers feel that way through focus groups and studies. From there, they can implement changes to their processes to ensure that customers are more satisfied with that product.

For any organization, it is essential that the customer is at the top of your priority list, and you cannot make assumptions regarding what your customer wants. To continuously improve and grow as a company, listening to your customers’ feedback and acting on those insights is critical. Voice of Customer programs are a proven and efficient way that anyone can gain insights into their customers and make their customers happier.

If you are interested in learning more about VoC, RXA can help! We have an award-winning Voice of the Customer program that helps our clients through the entire process, from defining a problem to implementing solutions. Learn more on our VoCx page, contact us via our website or email us at learn@rxa.io.