Voice of the Customer: 6 Common Mistakes To Avoid

If you make customers unhappy in the physical world, they might each tell 6 friends. If you make customers unhappy on the Internet, they can each tell 6,000 friends.”

That’s a quote from Amazon Founder Jeff Bezos, emphasizing a point that, in 2018, can’t be emphasized enough: customer experience is key. And that’s probably why customer experience will overtake price and product and the key differentiator between brands by 2020.

But if customer experience is the key to brand differentiation, what’s the key to customer experience orchestration and optimization? Enter, the voice of the customer (VOC).

What is the Voice of the Customer?

Voice of the Customer (VOC) is a market research technique that captures a detailed set of customer expectations, requirements and feedback. The purpose of a VOC program is to help give your company an insight into what your target audience loves and hates about your customer experience.

There are various ways to conduct a VOC program, including direct interviews, surveys, focus groups, customer specifications, observations, field reports and complaint logs. But the point is, a VOC program requires that you stop studying the numbers inside your analytics platform, and actually listen to the voices of the humans behind those bounce rates and abandoned shopping carts.

It sounds like a relatively straightforward concept, but we’ve seen far too many brands fail to get the most out of their voice of the customer programs. With that in mind, here are the top six VOC program pitfalls to avoid.

1. Not Knowing Your Customer

It’s essential to have a strong understanding of your who your ideal customer is. Without knowing your customer, you’ll not only ask the wrong questions, but you’ll be asking the wrong people.

Moreover, when you come to asking the questions, collect as much contextual data about the customer as possible in order to fully understand their pain points and their position among your customer or client personas.  

2. Not Knowing Your Goal

Make sure you have an end goal in mind when you begin your VOC program. That could be to collect feedback around your checkout system, or to gather opinions about your new customer service chatbot.

You’ll also want to model your questions with KPIs in mind. A few examples of these key metrics could be reducing churn or increasing sales. With a KPI in mind, you can ask the right questions in the right ways to get the most relevant answers.  

3. Inadequate Support

Everyone in the business, especially those in leadership positions, needs to buy into your VOC program. These programs have the potential to change the culture of a business by identifying customer experience potholes. If there is a not total support behind such market research, there is a strong chance the data won’t be taken as seriously as it ought to be.

Before any VOC research begins, educate your team on the importance of the data, and how it can help the brand’s bottom line in the long-run.  

4. Poorly Designed Voice of The Customer Programs

If you’re on a journey to improve your customer experience, start by making your VOC program an enjoyable customer experience.

Creating long-winded surveys, calling at inappropriate times or asking your customers for data that you already have will do nothing except frustrate your customers at a time when you want them to think about their interactions with your brand in a level-headed manner. Your goal should be to preserve the truth in every answer, but you’ll struggle to do that if you annoy every customer you speak to.

5. Lack of Voice of The Customer Program Investment

VOC programs are not cheap to carry out, but as mentioned in point three, company leadership needs to be onboard — which includes making an adequate budget available.

Some business will try to cut costs when carrying out this research, such as administering programs using free tools which limits the data in some shape or form. Ironically, this route impacts the customer experience negatively right off the bat, and thus — like mentioned in point five — will alter the customer’s mood as they give you feedback.

Budget restraints also limit the amount of customers you can talk to, which might leave you with a uselessly small pool of data. The solution? Well, schedule a meeting with your CEO, I guess.

6. Failing to Act on Feedback

A strong VOC program will involve having a continuous stream of feedback from customers flowing directly to those who are in control of customer experience orchestration. But far too often, that stream is cut short.

Some brands carry out VOC programs annually or quarterly, culminating in a presentation that is seen exclusively by senior members of the team. Needless to say, this siloed approach to acting on VOC data can result in missed opportunities and ideas. It can also lead to a significant delay between the company receiving the results and making the necessary changes.

To keep that flow of feedback going, make VOC research part of the customer experience in an unobtrusive way, and allow negative opinions — and the solutions for them — to reach those on the front lines.

More Than Just A Survey

If you haven’t already noticed, running a truly effective voice of the customer program takes more than just a quarterly customer feedback survey.

By double-checking with our list above, you should be able to engage with your customers in a way that fosters truthful, relevant and actionable feedback.

February 15, 2018

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