In the Era of CX, one of the most significant differences between businesses that are excelling and those that are struggling is a disciplined and thorough Voice of the Customer (VoC) Program.
Paying close attention to what customers are saying in addition to looking at business metrics like revenue, retention, and customer churn provides a nuanced understanding of the customer journey experience. A successful VoC program helps businesses visualize the gaps between customer expectations and their actual experiences.
Let’s break down what a VoC program is:
What is a VoC program?
Voice of the Customer (VoC) is a term that describes your customer’s feedback about their experiences with and expectations for your products or services. It focuses on customer needs, expectations, understandings, and product improvement.
Building an effective VoC program is a critical first step, but maintaining and managing a disciplined program is an even greater task. This blog will provide six best practices to ensure your VoC program consistently generates a goldmine of insights for your business.
1. Outline Specific Objectives and Questions for Your VoC Program
Before choosing a method or technique, it’s critically important to have a north star to understand how you will use the insights you gather to improve your business. These questions could be related to benchmark metrics, trends, or product adoption. A few examples of questions could be:
- We expected an X% adoption rate with this new product feature release but only experienced X% of the expected growth. What did customers not like about the feature? How can we improve?
- Which automation tool do you plan to deploy in your environment, and what is the expected outcome?
- What are the biggest challenges you experience when working with _____ and its sales team on renewal opportunities? (i.e., are there conflicting sales motions? Are there conflicting communications with customer contacts, etc.?)
The most common objectives that businesses use their VoC program for is to gauge their current CX, benchmark customer sentiment, and/or improve a product or service offerings.
2. Use Multiple Sources and Multiple Methodologies to Gather Customer Data
Customers are more connected with businesses than ever before. While direct feedback will always be the most helpful, there are a variety of ways that you can also collect indirect feedback. Below are a few examples of both direct and indirect feedback methodologies you can use for your VoC program:
- Customer Interviews: For ServiceSource, this is by far the most successful methodology to gather honest and direct feedback. Although this method can be a formal in-person event, it doesn’t have to be. We find that the best feedback comes when you weave your questions into an organic conversation with a customer or at the end of a call. This method is much more personal than a survey and a valuable forum for building trust.
- Chatbots/Live Chats: According to a recent study by Drift, chatbots are the fastest-growing brand communication channel. Customers prefer live chats because they offer instant responses to their queries. Having a live chat option on your website is an excellent way to gather real-time feedback and ensure that your customers are satisfied with your customer support efforts.
- Online Customer Survey: This method is excellent for capturing fresh feedback after an interaction with your company, like a sales call or a support service. Remember, it’s not up to your customers to provide thoughtful answers. To capture qualitative information from your customers, you will need to ask intelligent questions that influence insightful answers.
- Social Media: Social media is critical for connecting directly with customers in ongoing conversations about your product, service, or industry. Use this method to capture customer sentiment, emerging industry trends, and remedy frustrated customers in real-time. A proactive presence on any major platform, like Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook, is essential for establishing yourself as an industry leader who listens to their customers.
- Website Behavior: Your website is your business’s 24/7 billboard to the world. In addition to tracking chatbot and customer surveys, leveraging website analytics like bounce rate, CTR, and conversion rates is a great way to gauge how well your message resonates with your customers and how well your website flows. Another great tool to leverage is heat maps to discover which parts of a page resonate and what is glanced over.
- Customer Review Sites: How often do you look at customer reviews on Amazon before purchasing a product or checking Yelp before you go out to eat at a new restaurant? Customer reviews have become the highest form of word-of-mouth about how great or disappointing a product/service is.
3. Respond Quickly and Thoughtfully to Feedback
For your customers – how quickly you respond to their thoughtful feedback can become a meaningful (and defining, in some cases) moment in their journey with your brand. Acknowledge your customer’s efforts and explain how the information they provide will improve your product/services. If feedback is negative, that’s okay! Every company deals with bad CX eventually; it’s how quickly you respond and remedy the situation that matters. This effort will go a long way to improving customer retention and how likely a customer will refer you to their peers.
If feedback is negative, that’s okay! Every company deals with bad CX eventually; it’s how quickly you respond and remedy the situation that matters.
4. Share Feedback Across Your Enterprise
The most successful VoC programs use a company-wide, silo-free CRM platform to record and capture every conversation, escalation, and engagement with a customer. Having one source of documented data truth will help your customer success team to improve onboarding and adoption from data gathered from the sales team. Your support team can access feature metrics recorded by the customer success team, and your sales team can improve upsell and cross-sell opportunities based on customer behavior data.
Sharing feedback across your enterprise enables every team member to become an expert about each customer journey experience and act as a consultant during every engagement.
Approaching each conversation this way makes them feel as though your business values their feedback and uses it to improve their experience, all while improving long-term loyalty and trust.
5. Create an Action Plan Based on Your Feedback
When building out your report to share your VoC insights with your team (or leadership), it’s vital that you include a plan of attack. Depending on the trends and themes that your VoC program uncovered, your plan will look different.
For instance, if your customers found a new product feature cumbersome to use, your product development team may need to invest in better onboarding and training. If your customers complained about a lack of timely customer feedback, it might be worth investing in a chat feature on your website.
6. VoC Programs Can Extend Beyond Customers
Rarely does a business’s perception of itself match reality. The best way to align perception and reality is to gather unfiltered, honest feedback – whether that be from a customer or employee or partner. Extend your VoC ideology beyond your customers to uncover ways to improve internal processes, like purchase order (PO) processing, policies, and incentives programs.
Consistently Evolve Your Business by Mining Feedback
As Hall of Fame football coach Lou Holtz said, “In this world, you’re either growing, or you’re dying, so get in motion and grow.” A robust VoC program will help your business know when products and processes are working well and quickly recognize when they are not. ServiceSource has vast experience assisting global leaders in designing, executing, and analyzing successful VoC programs. To learn more about how ServiceSource can help take your VoC program to the next level – give us a call.