|Voice of the customer (VOC) is a term often used by large companies to describe the process of finding out the need and wants of a customer and then prioritising this information in terms of its importance compared to the existing situation. “Voice of the customer studies” are normally put in place at the start of the design for a new product, process or service in order for the final solution to be optimum in meeting the needs of the customer therefore increasing sales and profitability.
There are many ways to capture the required information. A number of the more traditional approaches involve focus groups, structured interviews, questioning and observing and questioning a user in their environment. All involve a series of structured in-depth interviews.
Customer surveys are also a key element of VOC data capture. In the old days this was done via printed forms. Today the information is gathered through on-line poles and questionnaires and now through mobile.
In the last three to four years social media has become an increasingly important medium to deploy VOC techniques with many small and large companies taking the time and effort to listen to the comments made, and then engaging in conversations being undertaken on twitter, facebook, yelp etc. These ‘listening’ approaches provide invaluable insight into how customer currently perceive and value a company’s product or service.
Who is in control?
The focus group or questionnaire VOC approach has always been initiated by the company or brand and therefore they have been in control. Any customer insight was only provided when a marketing manager requested it and it was for the ears of the company only. Today, with social media many discussions about new products, customer service issues or even company marketing campaigns are available for all to read and comment on at any time. The company is no longer in full control. However by engaging in a dynamic and positive manner, key information for improving products, processes and services can be gained from interacting with customer and clients via social media.
Customer loyalty programs are not only the result of VOC but can also be used to support an on- going ‘Voice of the Customer’ program. For example a restaurant could use a mobile loyalty program to reward clients who complete a mobile customer satisfaction survey after they have dined. By consistently listening to customers, brand loyalty will be built, which can then be further enhanced by implementing a customer rewards program.
In summary ‘Voice of the Customer’ research is not just for large companies. Any business can and really should be listing to their customers all of the time to improve product and services either through company implemented data capture and/or from social media communities.
For more information about customer loyalty please click here.
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