It’s more important than ever to understand customers’ wants and needs as purchasers are demanding more benefits for less cost. Below, we outline five major considerations for planning and conducting a voice of the customer assessment.
What is Voice of the Customer?
Voice of the Customer (VOC) is a methodology by which the client’s customers are either interviewed, surveyed, or observed to better understand purchasing behaviors, unmet needs, and service or product satisfaction.
VOC removes speculation and allows companies to base product and service design on customers’ actual needs, expectations, and preferences. Knowing exactly what customers are looking for gives companies a better chance of fulfilling market needs.
Targeting specific markets has also become easier to do with technology and data but simultaneously more competitive. VOC helps companies to base marketing strategies on purchasers’ direct feedback. This way, marketing can cater to specific desires, piquing customers’ interest more and better communicating with them. As consumers crave more personal experiences before and during the shopping experience, companies need to understand specific values to tap into emotional purchasing decisions.
Conducting a Voice of the Customer Assessment
1. Outside Resources: VOC is often best conducted by outside resources. Using a third party allows unbiased views when conducting the exercise. According to Forbes, customers tend to be more honest when opinions are being collected by a third party rather than directly by the company itself, especially in personal interviews or discussions. Gathering data from social media or online reviews through third parties may give a clearer picture of how the consumer truly feels about the product or service as well.
Additionally, using an outside resource encourages collaboration across company departments for diverse input. While some organization departments typically work in silos, this can limit value of the VOC and cause friction between departments. A third party brings an unbiased perspective and can reach out to a multitude of stakeholders for input before conducting VOC.
2. Complete Picture: When conducting VOC, we want to develop a full picture of customers’ perspectives. One way to do this is to develop a customer profile. To do this, companies must conduct VOC with a wide array of customers and identify trends that come up repeatedly. Creating a customer profile can help all customer-associated departments, including product or service development, marketing, and customer service.
Obtaining input from a variety of stakeholders and customer types through multiple avenues also helps see all angles of the customer view. Interviews, surveys, discussions, focus groups, or observations are all ways to understand customers better. Utilizing both qualitative and quantitative approaches can also provide different types of insights to create a complete picture.
3. Data Integration: Since technology and data have become integral parts of targeting and marketing, it makes sense that this information should be used to better understand customers’ preferences and contribute to a company’s strategy. A Gartner marketing survey showed that “only 14% of organizations have achieved a 360-degree view of the customer. However, 82% of respondents said they still aspire to attain this goal.” Data analysis can help paint this customer profile to better understand purchasing behaviors.
Conducting digital reviews for implicit feedback, such as tracking how long a checkout process takes or users’ search patterns, provides measurements to compare against industry benchmarks. On the flip side, more policies have been put in place over the last few years to remove cookie and app tracking without users’ permission. This makes it even more important for companies to conduct their own VOC work to understand buyers.
4. Valuable Outputs: A VOC assessment provides CP companies with strategic assets. Information and insights gained from customers are invaluable, assuming they are aggregated and translated into actionable improvements by way of a roadmap. The roadmap should provide both immediate actions to implement as well as long-term strategies. Once these recommended actions are executed, customer feedback will begin to skew positively.
5. Follow-up Steps: Continue to check in with customers regularly and ensure that changes are aligning with what customers were looking for, both in the short- and long-term. Companies may find that customers appreciate them taking a proactive approach in getting and implementing feedback. Setting strategic goals related to VOC can help keep companies focused on the customer rather than companies’ own opinions and assumptions. VOC exercises should be conducted regularly to ensure that continuous improvements are being made as customer preferences change.
Clarkston has experience in conducting Voice of the Customer projects and creating strategic roadmaps for companies. If your organization is considering conducting a VOC assessment, connect with one of our consumer engagement experts today.