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Voice of the Customer (VoC) is a marketing research technique that encompasses the collective insights of your customers' needs, wants, perceptions, preferences and expectations.
This page explains everything you need to know about a Voice of the Customer program, including:
Understanding your customers’ motivations and expectations are the building blocks to adopting a customer-centric strategy. Brands leverage VoC data to paint a clearer picture of their customers, which in turn helps them better personalize the customer experience, prioritize key drivers of the experience and know what matters most to their customers.
In fact, industry-leading organizations who leverage a Voice of the Customer program in their key decisions have seen tremendous success, including:
A core aspect of any VoC program is to collect and better understand the intentions, experiences and expectations of your customers. Today, there is a plethora of ways to engage your customers for feedback, from a feedback tab to using a pop-up survey to social media.
But too often, marketers place similar expectations on each of these methods, even though the way that you engage your customers has an enormous impact on the nature of the information you will collect.
So to make sure you use the right methodology, you must first ask yourself:
"What do I plan to use the data for?"
Below is a guide to the different types of sampling methodologies you should consider based on the business need you want to address with your customer feedback:
If you want to keep your finger on the pulse of your website experience and measure Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) like Task Completion, Net Promoter Score® (NPS®) and Overall Satisfaction, then you need to collect a representative and reproducible source of customer feedback.
The best method is to use a Random Active Solicitation which ensures that you collect feedback that is representative of how all of your website visitors feel about your website, and provides an accurate measurement of KPIs that you can track over time you can leverage to drive strategic decisions.
The most common engagement technique associated with collecting a reproducible and representative sample is using a pre-post approach. This involves inviting a random portion of your website visitors on arrival to your website to complete a survey at the end of their visit.
If you are looking to collect feedback to help you address specific issues on your website, such as broken links and other technical issues, then you need feedback that is unique to the individual visitor who experiences this issue.
The best method for collecting tactical feedback is a user-initiated approach which allows your visitors to leave their feedback at any point during their visit by clicking a button that is shown persistently throughout their visit. This is commonly referred to as a Comment Card or a Feedback tab.
This approach allows you to collect specific feedback relating to unique barriers that this visitor experienced during their visit, which you can then easily relay to key stakeholders in your company, so they can address these issues.
If you want to optimize the performance of specific aspects of your website, such as the shopping cart or a product configurator’, then you need to collect targeted feedback from those who use these items.
The best approach for optimization is a targeted behavior solicitation approach. This involves prompting a specific audience for their feedback based on how they interact with your website during their visit (e.g. behavioral criteria), such as Number of Pages Viewed, Time on Site or specific URLs to which they navigated.
For example, by triggering a support-specific survey to collect feedback from customers who accessed the Support section of your site, you can understand how effectively your online support tools are meeting customers’ needs, and how you can optimize these resources.
The approach you adopt as part of your Voice of the Customer program will ultimately impact the type of data you collect, and how key stakeholders in your company can use it.
For example, if you want to collect customer feedback to help you improve the online shopping cart experience on your website, then your business need for this feedback would be “Optimization”. Therefore, you need to use a targeted sampling methodology that engages only customers who used the shopping cart during their visit.
Alternatively, if you want to collect data you can trend over time to monitor your visitors’ website experience, your business need in this case would be “Strategic”. As such, you would need to use a representative sampling methodology to collect an accurate view of what your visitors overall feel about your website.
When starting to design your Voice of the Customer program, one of the most hotly-debated issues is what questions to ask your customers.
Before deciding which questions to include in your VoC program, make sure you keep these key principles in mind:
Learn more about how to increase survey response rates →
While there is an infinite number of questions that can be included as part of a Voice of the Customer program, there are a few key metrics that will get any program off the ground.
Four of the most widely used VoC metrics are:
Satisfaction is a well-established metric that is used to measure and manage the customer experience over time. Satisfaction is typically used to provide a baseline measurement of performance, identify change, and understand key drivers to set and align priorities.
One of the most widely-used ways to phrase a question to measure customer satisfaction is:
“How would you rate your overall experience today?”
Learn more about Overall Satisfaction →
NPS is a customer loyalty metric developed by Fred Reichheld, Bain & Company, and first appeared in Reichheld’s Harvard Business Review article “One Number You Need to Grow”.
One of the biggest benefits of NPS is that it has been shown to be a strong leading indicator of overall company performance. Yet, while it is not without its limitations and critics, it remains a useful and simple metric that can be easily implemented.
The NPS is derived from asking the following question:
“How likely is it that you would recommend [brand] to a friend or colleague?”
Learn more about Net Promoter Score →
When looking for ways to optimize the performance of your digital properties, you must first start with what your individual customers are looking to accomplish.
Customer Intent (or visitor intent) and Task Completion help you understand how your customers interact with your website or mobile app beyond web analytics data by getting into the mind of your customers to not only better understand the context of their visit, but also to confirm the underlying factors that drive how they interact with your website.
To collect Customer Intent, consider using a ‘Purpose of Visit’ (PoV) question:
“Which of the following best describes the primary purpose of your visit?”
And the metric ‘Task Completion’ is typically derived from the following question:
“Were you able to complete the purpose of your visit today?”
Once the voice of your customers starts streaming in, you need to unleash the power of this data through interactive visualizations, and by sharing the data to key stakeholders throughout your organization so they can optimize the Customer Experience.
Below are some of the most common ways to slice and dice your VoC data.
Now you have everything you need to create your own Voice of the Customer program. But is it worth it to go it alone or partner with a full-service vendor?
Many think that a self-serve survey tool is sufficient to run a VoC program. In reality, to get the most value out of the voice of your customers, it requires an experienced team to manage the diverse aspects of a VoC program, from implementation experts to research analysts.
In this video, Duff Anderson, Co-founder of iperceptions, explores the advantages and disadvantages of running VoC research using a self-service VoC tool, as opposed to partnering with a Voice of the Customer solutions provider.
Learn more about the advantages of using a full-service VoC solution →