Conducting voice of the customer research (VoC) can help your company understand the overall customer journey, find ways to improve the customer experience, and drive increases in customer KPIs like customer satisfaction (CSAT) and loyalty.
But what is VoC anyway and how can you research it?
From the very first moment someone first encounters your brand to all of the other critical touchpoints throughout their customer journey, your customers are continuously forming opinions about your products, services, and team. The experiences they have with your company, whether via digital, social, mobile, or in person, all directly shape their perceptions and inform the feelings they develop about your brand over time.
And there’s a name for these feelings, opinions, and overall customer sentiment—that is, the voice of the customer.
Taking the time to learn what your customers really think about your brand can help you better meet their needs.
That matters because not only are dissatisfied customers almost 100% likely to never do business with your company again, these unhappy individuals are likely to tell up to nine to 15 others about their negative experience, harming your chances of winning over potential future customers.
Here are four ways to conduct voice of the customer research to discover what people really have to say about your brand, along with steps you can take to strengthen your company’s reputation, loyalty, and more.
4 Ways to Collect Voice of the Customer Research
Customer insights can be extremely powerful, but, ultimately, they’re only effective if the data that’s gathered gets acted upon in a timely manner.
Here are four important ways to use voice of the customer data to improve upon the products and services your company offers to drive customer experiences and lifetime value.
#1: Customer interviews or focus groups (in person or virtually)
Dating back to the mid-20th century, focus groups are a widely popular VoC research method. Globally, companies spend billions of dollars each year conducting interviews with customers directly.
Over the years, focus groups have helped brands like Mattel roll out new products and product innovations and have been used to guide company priorities, understand the real-world user experience, and gain a deeper understanding of the day-to-day lives of consumers.
Best practices for conducting effective focus groups include:
- Pre-screening candidates to makes sure they represent the population you’re looking to study and learn more from, such as first-time moms living within a given metro area
- Having a clear objective: Aligning with internal stakeholders on the questions you’re hoping to answer and the purpose of these focus group sessions
- Conducting more than one study to collect meaningful responses
- Taking care of the logistics: Preparing questions in advance, sticking to a set format across focus groups, recording all sessions, and transcribing and analyzing the conversations
#2: Customer engagement data
While customer focus groups offer a great way to gather qualitative VoC data, your company likely has a steady supply of quantitative customer experience data right at your fingertips, from your brand’s website, emails, apps, loyalty program, and more.
Taking a look at these sources may reveal insights about customer interests, preferences, behaviors, and patterns.
You may be able to uncover what influences high-value actions like customer purchases and conversions and what influences negative KPIs like churn rate and website bounces, to pinpoint opportunities to serve customers more of what they like and eliminate barriers to seamless customer experiences.
#3: Customer listening via social media, online reviews, and other channels
If you’re not listening to what your customers have to say about your brand via online reviews, social media, and other platforms, then you’re not only missing out on finding out what’s impacting individual and collective experiences, but also what’s driving your overall reputation and profitability, with every one star bump on platforms like Yelp translating to a 5 to 9% uplift in revenue.
Nearly all customers (90%) read reviews before visiting a business and, ultimately, these reviews influence almost 70% of all purchase decisions, reports Forbes.
Keeping track of feedback is only the half of it. It’s important to respond, thoughtfully and in a timely manner. This signals to customers that you’re listening and that they matter. Pro tip: Make sure your responses align with your brand tone and values. See also: 6 templates to respond to customer complaints.
#4: Customer surveys
Online survey responses can provide a wealth of insights about how customers feel about your brand, products, services, and staff. The customer feedback you collect can help illustrate what your company is doing well, and where there are opportunities for improvement. Surveying customers about their customer experiences is a particularly effective way to understand how your customer support team is meeting customer expectations.
As with social listening, it’s best to reach out in the moment, immediately after customers interact with one of your agents, to ensure individuals feel heard and valued. This is especially important for anyone who has had a negative experience. Letting them air their grievances can help you make things right and give them a place to vent other than social media.
Not only do customers want to share details about their interactions with brands, they’re more likely to have a favorable opinion about companies that directly ask for (and act upon) their feedback, reports Forbes.
How Top Brands Conduct Voice of the Customer Research Via Surveys
Globally recognized brands like Mercedes-Benz and Postmates have partnered with Stella Connect to conduct real-time customer research, by launching in-the-moment customer service surveys to evaluate customer service team performance as interactions are unfolding, improve customer service delivery on an ongoing basis, and offer seamless experiences for customers.
Request your demo now and to discover how we’ve helped industry pioneers like Williams-Sonoma cut $1M in customer service costs and experience-booking platform Peek.com increase their QA scores by 25%.