6 Ways to Collect Accurate Voice of The Customer Data

Jason Smith

The voice of the customer is the key to a successful customer experience orchestration strategy. Period.

In fact, Walker reports that by the year 2020 customer experience will overtake price and product as your brand’s key market differentiator. That might have something to do with the results of another study undertaken by The Aberdeen Group, which found that best-in-class voice of the customer (VoC) practitioners enjoy:

  • 10X Revenue: “Best-in-class” VoC practitioners grow their year-over-year annual company revenue at a rate of almost 10x compared to all other brands covered by the research.
  • Doubled Customer Retention: Top VoC practitioners also experience a 55 percent greater customer retention rate.
  • Super Employee Engagement Rates: Best-in-class VoC users also enjoy a 292 percent increase in employee engagement.

In other words, VoC data isn’t just growing in importance, it’s a major factor that helps shape brand and customer success today.

By collecting and utilizing VoC data, you’ll be able to identify the true wants and needs of your customers, uncover the preferences of otherwise silent users, and create richer customer experiences as a result.

Below we’ve explored six different ways you can collect voice of the customer data to help bolster your customer experience orchestration strategy.

1. Digital Surveys & Polls

The first approach, surveys, is the most obvious one, and probably the most commonly used. This is referred to as proactive data collection, as you’re seeking out customer problems and information before any issues arise.

Traditionally, customer surveys have been carried out via an email autoresponder that’s triggered at the end of a customer experience, or sent out in a standalone email campaign to gather a wide range of customer data. With a survey, the result you want is volume, as this will help you determine which data points match up with your entire customer-base, and you’re not relying on outliers to inform your decision.

As we move deeper into the age of social media and applications, it’s more common to see brands collecting voice of the customer data via polls, comments, and hashtag usage on platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

2. “Face-to-Face” Customer Interviews

For brands who want to take their VoC strategy seriously, face-to-face or in-person meetings are often arranged with their most loyal customers. This can be carried out via individual interviews or on a group basis.

Multiple sessions are typically carried out at regular intervals, and the customers in question are usually rewarded or compensated in exchange for their time. However, questions have been raised regarding the accuracy of the VoC data collected in this manner, as well as data collected by email or digital surveys. That’s because the data collected from these micro-engagements can be easily impacted by the customer’s mood or most recent interaction with the brand, resulting in a partial or even a deceiving glance into their true feelings about the customer experience your brand offers.

3. Monitoring Customer Behavior

The words of your customer don’t always match their actions — and you know what they say,actions speak louder than words.

Whereas surveys and interviews give you a micro-glimpse of the customer’s voice, tracking the customer’s behavior over time will give you an unbiased insight into their relationship with your brand.

What your customers say and what your customer does will tell you what they want if you’re willing to listen. The more digital channels you have available the wider range of data and customer information you’ll be able to collect.

For example, if you have an active Facebook business page you can monitor comments and overall engagement metrics to better understand what clicks with your audience, and the overall voice they use when they interact with you.

This will give you crucial clues that you can use in your own messaging. Both helping you mimic and incorporate your audience’s language and focusing on the content, products, and services that get the most love from your audience.

This extends out to your website as well. For instance, if you have a chatbot or contact form you can use the responses to get a better picture of how your visitors interact with you. These interactions are different from other means, as the communication type (email and chat box), feels different than person-to-person, or even social media interaction.

4. Engaging With Customer-facing Staff

Your customer-facing staff — from the service team to your sales team — can give you an unprecedented look at the voice of your customer. In fact, they’re most likely already well acquainted with who your customers are, what they get frustrated with, and what makes them happy.  

Along with interviewing your customer-facing staff on a regular basis, you can implement a process for data collection into their working day. In this case, the speed of data collection is actually important as the longer you wait the less trustworthy the recall of these experiences become. Even a simple reporting form will give your salespeople and support team the chance to jot down interaction notes as soon as possible.

Gathering data from your customer support team will usually help to uncover common issues and difficulties with using your product, customer complaints and other points of struggle or frustration. All data surrounding those pain points can aid your internal team in their quest to deliver more memorable customer experiences.  

5. Visual Analytic Tools

There are a variety of visual analytic tools that will enable you to gather real-time data and change your website to better suit your customer needs. The information you gather here will be visually oriented, so you won’t have written or verbal feedback, but instead will be tailoring your website with action-based feedback.

Heatmaps allow you to see exactly how your visitors use and navigate your website. This will help you transform your existing website, so it’s very intuitive and only gives your users the information they need.

Split-testing will be more time intensive, but it’ll help to further any data you’ve collected from heatmaps. You’ll be able to test headlines, colors, text, layouts, and a lot more. In time, you’ll be able to create a website that’s perfectly crafted to meet your customer’s needs.

Keep in mind that none of this is an overnight process, but instead an ongoing journey of customer understanding and using that understanding to refine your products and offerings.

6. Influencer Networking

Chances are, there are certain influencers in your niche that can help you either understand the needs of the market — or, help you shape those preferences yourself. So, instead of playing catch up to these trends you should monitor, network with, and potentially collaborate with these influencers to help dictate trends.

By better understanding influencers and their role in the market, you’ll gain a deeper understanding of what motivates your customer's behavior, which can then be used to mold your customer experience, products, or services.

By initiating partnerships and promotions with influencers in your space, you’ll be able to gain more credibility, authority, and influence, while aligning the values of your brand with another individual they respect.

For VoC Data, Quantity Increases Quality

In order to make your voice of the customer campaigns worthwhile, we recommend engaging in all six of the strategies listed above. As mentioned, traditional strategies can be misleading, but when you combine all these strategies, the holistic view you get as a result is unmatchable.

Collecting voice of the customer data should be seen as an ongoing process, so you don’t have to adopt all these strategies at once. But plan your VoC roadmap with the aim of one day soon having a 360-degree view of your customer’s voice.

Jason Smith
Chief User Experience Officer
March 18, 2018

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