In the world of customer service, understanding your customers and their needs is critical to the success of your organization. Sometimes these needs are clear and easy to meet, and other times it can be more difficult to understand what your customers require. That’s why it’s so important to listen to the voice of the customer and use your findings from doing so to shape your organization’s customer experience.
So what is the Voice of the Customer (VOC)? It’s a term used to describe the in-depth process of capturing a customer’s expectations, wants, needs and preferences. This information is organized into a hierarchical structure and prioritized in terms of relevance and importance. Basically, it’s a market research technique which is often conducted at the starting point of a new service offering, new product or new process, but can also be implemented on existing processes that need to be improved or redesigned. This allows for companies to be sure that what they’re offering is in line with what their target audience needs and is looking for.
Why is this important to my business? Great question! The most obvious answer is to learn how to give your customers the best possible experience. Looking deeper into the voice of your customers can also identify pain points and roadblocks in your organization’s current processes, which can provoke changes that should be made in order to increase efficiency and workflow. Fixing these pain points means less time spent dealing with issues that could have been prevented by listening to the voice of the customer.
Due to the emergence of social media and other online tools, 58% of consumers say they are now more likely to spread the word about their customer service experiences compared to just 5 years ago. These shared experiences can be positive or negative and can have a huge impact on a company’s or brand’s reputation. Another area that can have a big impact is online reviews. A recent study completed by BrightLocal found that last year customers only needed to read an average of 4 to 6 reviews before deciding to trust a business.
So what can you do to understand the voice of your customers? First, you must start gathering data to help you make informed decisions. However, before making any decisions, you need to analyze that data and sort out the priorities. Concentrate on the data that will have the biggest positive impact on your company and your customers.
There are many ways to gather data that your target audience can provide. Competitive research is a great place to start looking. Research what your competitors are doing well and what problems their customers are having. This can uncover similar issues within your organization. One of the most obvious but often ignored tactics is feedback. Asking your customers how their experience was can unveil a lot of information. This can be done through customer interviews, surveys and focus groups. Also, don’t forget to check what people are saying on social websites like Yelp! and Facebook. For new products or services, conduct soft launches and hold focus groups with your target audience to get real-time feedback before fully launching. Lastly, interviewing users of alternative products is another great way to get quality feedback.
The most important aspect of finding the voice of your customer is actually implementing your findings. Gathering the data isn’t enough. Analyze the data, sort out what could really make a difference in the customer’s experience and create a strategy to implement it. As more data becomes available, use it to help your organization be proactive instead of reactive. By listening to what your customers want and need, you will be much better equipped to expand your brand and grow your organization.