Mark Ritson shared that companies should always invest 5% of the budget to research as it helps to understand customers, to serve them better, and grow the business. We are sure you understand the value of listening to your customer to improve the bottom line and boost repeat business. However, you must be surprised to know that less than 40% of marketers are using customer research to drive decisions making only in the US.
There might be several reasons for this - time and budget constraints, inability to capture a sizable amount of feedback data, or translating the data into actionable insights. Through this article we aim to solve these concerns, so you can prioritize customer research and get some clarity on how to do it better in your next quarter.
To begin with, let’s clarify the -
What the Voice of the Customer (VOC) is and why is it important -
Voice of the customer (VOC) is a research methodology that involves collecting direct feedback from your customers. Unlike traditional market research, VOC is not only about asking customers what they think about your brand or product. Instead, it’s about understanding what your customers feel. VOC focuses on their experience and not their perception of it. The VOC feedback data can be categorized into -
Structured Solicited Feedback
Unstructured Solicited Feedback
Structured Unsolicited Feedback
Unstructured Unsolicited Feedback
The importance of collecting the voice of customers is essential in today’s competitive business landscape because:
Minimizes Risk – Businesses are constantly evolving in today’s markets. They are releasing new high-tech products or services which often customers hardly understand the use or need for. These situations call for solid customer research to identify potential warning signs because many companies cannot afford to take risks of failing.
Improves efficiency – Customer-centric companies are 60% more profitable than companies that don’t focus on customers. This is typical because customer research or collecting voice of customer feedback, helps them prioritize their strategies, maximize time and allocate resources according to customer needs. While there can be plenty of internal opinions the external feedback collected from customers is the one that matters the most.
Supports in identifying growth opportunities for informed decision-making - Collecting the voice of the customer helps establish a customer-first approach which drives good decision-making. This helps to optimize service, improve products and plan new releases, creating actionable sales and marketing strategies thereby reducing customer churn and increase loyalty. The data gathered from customer research helps companies get to the heart of their desires, needs, and expectations which support this process.
Here is an example from Profitwell which showcases how a company’s internal perception was vastly different from the customer’s perception.
Prevents customer churn – When customer feedback is translated into actionable insights it gives a better understanding of the customer satisfaction score (CSAT), loyalty score (NPS), customer effort score (CES), and win/loss reasons, among others. A systematic collection of this customer data helps to understand what strategies, processes or service is working and what is not, leaving scope for improvement. This helps to serve the customer better and influences their brand loyalties to reduce churn.
Therefore, the Voice of the Customer Feedback is a valuable resource for the company because it helps to understand the customer’s perspective. It fills the gap between expectation and possible experiences as represented in the graph above. Additionally, it guarantees better customer experience which is the single most important differentiating factor for businesses today as shared by 81% of marketers and CX managers in the Gartner Customer Experience and Marketing Survey.
There are several methods to collect VOC feedback. Before we deep dive into those let’s get acquainted with some groundwork that’s needed for conducting any customer-related research, be it quantitative or qualitative.
Prerequisites for VOC survey include:
Define the purpose of research – Establish the objective of the research according to your requirements, be it analyzing the current performance or improving a service/product. If you don’t have any clear objective for the research, you’ll never know how to make use of the insights gathered.
Segment your targeted research group - Not all customer feedback surveys can be targeted for all customers. So, always segment them into groups based on firmographic, demographic categories, data-based, or characteristic-based ICPs (Ideal Customer Profiles), if you have the information.
Create a solid script - The script should only contain the most relevant questions and instructions if any. When creating a script, it’s important to be straightforward and avoid using jargon or industry-specific terms. The script is all the more essential for quantitative research because it helps to categorize and analyze the answers better post-survey.
Keep it short - Try to keep the survey script as short as possible. Unless your respondents are engaged with your survey, attrition usually starts around the 5th question. To avoid this, you need a solid script to get an adequate number of responses. Remember, a survey beyond 10 questions is just not reasonable!
How to collect Voice of the Customer Feedback
Customer Interviews - This is one of the most traditional techniques to collect VOC data. However, conducting interviews comes with some additional prerequisites like inviting ideal target customer groups, preparing different questions for different segments, and having a relevant interviewer known to the customer. It can often be time and labour-inducive.
However, interviews help to build good customer relationships as customers perceive this type of interaction as more personal. Focus groups or panel discussions can also be categorized under customer interviews because it helps to deep-dive into customer conversations.
Here are a few tips to help you get through a qualitative customer interview -
Automated Phone Calls - Did you know 73% of people shared customer experience analysis as the most impactful use of voice technology according to Deepgram & Opus Research. The use of automated calls has grown exponentially in recent years for a variety of uses including customer research because its benefits are multifold. It's cost-efficient, helps to accelerate response rates, and can avoid email-spam filters, all-in-all it is a super fast and efficient solution that is best used for structured, solicited surveys.
On-time automated calling solutions help you to record data in a single platform in real time. Additionally, you can use it as a standalone platform or connect with your CRM with simple API integrators for triggering automated communications based on the action of the contact. On-time also helps you to complement calls with SMS messages for informing customers prior to or post the call.
Check out our Call Automation solutions page for additional info.
CRM - A good place to gather demographic and historical customer data is in-house CRM. CRM gives a broad overview of customer actions in the past. Although using and analysing CRM data needs an upfront time investment, but should be used and practiced regularly. Especially because it helps to train customer support teams to better handle customer issues and enhance the service.
This is validated by the Harvard Business Review Analytic Services Survey which stated that 58% of enterprises saw a significant increase in customer retention and loyalty as a result of using CRM customer analytics.
Emails - Customer feedback collection through email is a popular channel because it requires minimum effort and has a low intrusion barrier in reaching customers. However, the response rates of email surveys are typically the lowest. Email surveys may include online feedback forms. Tools like SurveyMonkey, and Typeform help to build these surveys conveniently. However, one of the biggest challenges is designing an online survey that guarantees the best results/response rates.
TIP: Try to avoid the word ‘survey’ and ‘feedback’ in your email subjects to ensure better open rates.
Check out our blog for quick tips on how to design a call survey questionnaire. You may also consider On-time multi-channel communications solutions including calls, SMS, and emails to collect VOC data.
Brand Website - Your website can help you capture the voice of customer feedback data fast and conveniently with the help of live chat or gamified surveys. Live chats are not only popular tools for customer service but they can help to secure feedback and behavioural data, as revealed in the Zoho study which stated 43% of companies got a better understanding of their customers within a year of using live chat. When connected to your CRM, live chat also helps to populate CRM data.
Social Media - It goes without saying that social media is one of the most popular channels to gather customer feedback and reviews, especially for B2C industry because it allows you have direct, real-time conversations. This channel can be categorised as a true form of listening program for VOC. You just need to have an active process to follow trends, track and gather this information from review sites, community groups or social networking platforms. Although, it is hard to translate them into hard data one should not miss out on capturing unfiltered customer feedback.
Its evident that omni-channel communications is the way to go for collecting Voice of the Customer. A single-channel approach cannot help you fulfill your desired goals when it comes to gathering customer feedback or reviews. A combination of digital channels and human interaction is ideal for collecting and putting the best insights into action.
If you aiming to learn more about your customer experience, intent and effort across various touch points you should initiate omni-channel feedback collection practices. However, it must be remembered that collection is first step towards driving a positive change for improving customer satisfaction and brand loyalty.
What sets businesses apart from others is tapping into the right metrics, analysing and converting it into actionable insights with a cross-functional approach, that benefits all the teams.