Voice of the Customer Definition: How to Get the Most Out of Feedback

July 23rd 2014
Voice of the Customer DefinitionVoice of the customer definition
Voice of the customer is all about capturing feedback from consumers and what they have to say about some of the most important aspects of your brand. If you have trouble keeping clients after their initial use of your product or service, or if you’re just looking to be more in tune with the average customer experience - it’s your best bet at gaining some insight. If you’ve been looking ahead, trying to map out where your brand’s headed, this type of feedback can help. Instead of making changes for the sake of change, or progress, if you’re listening to the people who use your product or service most, they’re going to have some pretty good ideas that can clue you in about where you should be headed.
How to collect feedback
There are a variety of ways you can ask for and receive feedback. For some, the decision comes down to what’s most cost effective. A natural place to start is directly from within. Your sales representatives are working closely with customers day in and day out. They’re going to be hearing all kinds of feedback, good and bad, and are worth enlisting so you can get a feel for what’s coming up most often.
This is the method that’s most connected to the idea of what VOC can accomplish. There’s some concern, and for good reason, about conducting in person interviews. While it’s a great way to better your understanding and make sure the interview is actually completed, especially with the person sitting directly in front of you, it’s also the most expensive way to go about it. Some brands choose to interview through email, video, or by phone as an alternative.
With the right questions, and a thorough understanding of what it is you want to know - a survey can be an excellent way to collect feedback. You should go through a few rounds of looking at your questions and making sure they match up with what you’re looking to find out, otherwise your survey won’t be as effective as it could be. Coming up with the right combination of questions isn’t as easy as it sounds, and it’s a good idea to have a few sets of eyes working with you to determine if your questions are touching on the right things. It’s another traditional method for gathering info, and can be employed in a variety of ways, to suit the needs of any brand. Quite a few brands have used incentives, usually money or some kind of prize, to sweeten the prospect for consumer who might not want to spend time going to a website to answer questions.
Focus groups
A small group of a certain demographic is brought together to share their opinions, beliefs and perceptions about your brand. It can help better understand their priorities and where they stand on the concepts you put before them. The openness and group setting allow for a collaborative environment that can really tell you a lot about where you stand with consumers. Focus groups are often used in conjunction with other methods to add to feedback you’re receiving.
Indirect feedback
Blogs, social media, email, forums - feedback is happening all the time. Sometimes, if we’re not actively looking for it, we missed what’s being said. Plenty of larger brands get burned on social media after a particularly disastrous encounter manages to go viral through Twitter or Facebook. It can be pretty difficult to make heads or tails of this type of feedback if you’re a larger brand, which means it’s important to implement a system that cuts through the noise so you can get to the heart of what’s being said.
What to do once you have it
The great thing about VOC is that every brand is going to have a different system for collecting feedback, one that works for them and suits their needs. There’s no singular system, or one size fits all approach. That means knowing the methods that are used, and understanding which ones suit your needs. One of the worst things you can do with any type of feedback is sit on it so it becomes an afterthought, or forgotten completely. If you’re going to make the effort to hear some truths about your brand, you also need to be committed to implementing changes based on feedback. Consumers like the feeling they’re being heard, but it doesn’t mean a lot if you aren’t willing to improve their experience once you get all the facts.