All businesses rely on customer loyalty for brand recognition and revenue growth. How often they come back to purchase products and services, how dedicated they are to your brand, and whether they are happy with the customer service matters to the success of your company. And, the first step to retaining customers is by understanding and utilizing insights from Voice of the Customer (VoC) data.
In this post, we’ll explore the importance of actionable VoC feedback, common VoC methodologies, impactful VoC questions to ask your customer, and review how all of it can make a significant, positive impact on your business.
Voice of the Customer: A definition
Before you can dive into VoC feedback research, it’s important to have a firm grasp on the Voice of the Customer definition:
The Voice of the Customer (VoC) is a methodology used to capture customers’ needs, requirements, and perceptions about products or services. It helps you understand the drivers behind customer decisions, provides feedback for improved experiences, and facilitates innovation and thinking for new offerings.– Voice of the Customer (VoC): Customer feedback for a future-proof business
In other words, VoC identifies how well your business and employees know your customers and determines if you are successfully addressing their needs and expectations. It also tells you how you’re stacking up against competitors – with the help of VoC feedback.
A successful Voice of the Customer program with actionable VoC feedback can propel new business initiatives through a more nuanced understanding of your customers’ needs, perceptions, and decision-making processes.
Improve the customer experience with VoC feedback
Did you know? 94% of customers who consider their experience with a business as “very good” are likely to purchase that company’s additional products or services in the future.
Knowing how customers perceive your company is necessary to run a successful business and make an impact on the customer experience. To understand their point of view you first need to ask yourself:
- Do I understand their purchasing patterns and behaviors?
- Can I help my customers with our products and services?
- Do I know how to fulfill the customer’s needs?
One of the methodologies to answer those questions is through Voice of the Customer surveys (an easy data collection method that we’ll explore later on). The resulting feedback provides an outside-in look into your brand’s strengths and weaknesses, enabling your team to continue to do what works well and address what you could be doing better.
VoC bridges the gap between customer expectations and experience by asking your customers the right questions at the right time. Collecting feedback and analyzing it in real-time is a quick way to see the gaps between your customers’ expectations and the overall satisfaction delivered.
Additionally, easily digestible customer feedback allows you to:
- Retain and gain customers.
- Spot signs that customers aren’t happy and why to get ahead of any potential brand crises.
- Gauge where new products, ideas or concepts will be most valuable.
- Customize products, features, and service to your customers.
- Provide them what they need to meet their expectations.
The more successful you are at creating an experience that meets the expectations of your customers, the more successful you are at running a business that stays relevant in today’s marketplace.
Understand the customer through Voice of the Customer methodologies
It’s likely that you’ve been asked an experience question at a department or grocery store. For example, a clerk might have asked you, “Did you find what you were looking for today?” If you say yes, they’ll know you are satisfied. If you say no, they’ll know they didn’t meet your expectations.
And that’s the thing — customers often provide valuable feedback without realizing they’re being surveyed. As an organization, you need to ensure that feedback is captured systematically by the Voice of the Customer methodologies that align best with your business needs.
There are many ways to gather feedback from your customers, including active and passive methods. Each interaction with your customer offers you a chance to gain feedback and insight into their habits and behaviors, their satisfaction, and their loyalty to your brand.
Apply active feedback methods across the customer journey
With active methods, your company solicits feedback directly from the customer by questioning them directly after purchase, or on a predetermined schedule (such as once a month or twice a year). No matter where the customer is on their journey with your brand, active feedback methods can be initiated at any time and can include customer surveys, focus groups, and customer interviews.
Voice of the Customer surveys
Online surveys are a more common approach to gaining customer feedback. Sending customer surveys after an interaction is one of the fastest ways to gather feedback. Once a customer purchases a product, uses a service, interacts with employees, or navigates your website, you can ask them questions about their experience.
VoC customer survey templates come in many forms; from multiple-choice, to yes/no or thumbs up thumbs down, and even open-ended questionnaires.
Asking the right questions matters when surveying customers. For example, Net Promoter Score (NPS) surveys measure customer loyalty while Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) surveys measure customer satisfaction. Using an experience management software solution like Delighted allows your teams to rally around specific customer metrics and helps to ensure you’re following survey best practices for quality feedback – no matter the survey type.
Focus groups bring together a small group of customers who share perceptions and observations about your company and brand. When customers openly discuss your brand, they’ll share opinions and beliefs you might not otherwise learn through other feedback methods. This is a great way to prioritize customer needs or test new concepts, ideas, and products.
TIP: Be careful to avoid allowing one participant to drive the core conversation. This could lead to over-indexing on something that may not actually be a big issue.
Interviewing customers is one of the best ways to collect customer feedback. Interacting this way is perceived by customers as a more personal approach. Interviews take place via email, virtually, on the phone, or in person and are a great way to build trust and form a relationship with your customers. Use interviewing techniques to gain insight into customers’ point of view about specific aspects of your company.
Collect VoC data through passive feedback methods
Passive methods of gathering feedback are when the customer initiates an interaction with your company rather than the company surveying the customer. This requires employees of the company to closely monitor or listen to the interaction and dig for insights from the customer. Passive methods include live chat, support call data, social media reviews and messages, other online reviews, and website behaviors.
With interactive websites today, customers like being able to reach out for help or ask questions through live chat. Live chat gives you insights into customers’ purchasing behavior and website usage in real-time. Sometimes, chats are used to help with a purchase, to find a product, or to even complain about the price, lack of product, or a website that isn’t functioning properly. Questions and complaints help you understand why the customer is frustrated, giving you the opportunity to resolve their issues immediately.
Customer support call data
Using recorded data from customer support phone calls helps you determine how your customers perceive your brand – if their expectations are being met and what issues or objections they might have. Although time-consuming to organize, customer support call data provides invaluable feedback from customers.
Social media and social listening
Millions of people use social media to interact with businesses every day. In fact, some companies have built their entire strategy off of the benefits social media can provide.
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn are all places online where customers can leave feedback and even post reviews. Additionally, your customers can easily influence the purchase decisions of others by expressing feedback with comments, posts, and reviews.
According to Qualtrics, 67% of customers are influenced by social media reviews. Moreover, social media allows you to observe and participate in customer conversations. While more difficult to track without a dedicated social listening team, social media is perfect for collecting unfiltered feedback, finding trends, and even addressing issues or concerns in an open forum.
TIP: Connecting Twitter or other social accounts to team communication apps like Slack, can keep your teams aware of comments made on social media for prompt response and issue resolution.
Online reviews are another great way to gain passive feedback from customers. Review sites like Yelp and Google offer options for collecting valuable data about your customers.
Outside of live chats and online surveys, analyzing customer website behavior is a great way to obtain passive feedback. With analysis tools you can determine where your customers live, which pages customers visit the most, how far past the homepage they travel, which products or services are the most popular, and also which pages or products aren’t seeing many hits.
While there are many ways to gain valuable feedback from your customers, surveys are the easiest option. Our experience management software allows you to choose the best survey for your needs, automate your surveys and data collection, and analyze results faster than most other manual and passive methods.
Along with crafting your VoC survey, you should also consider the top VoC questions to include for impactful feedback capturing.
VoC questions to include in your customer survey
Asking questions is a great way to get specific feedback from your customers. It’s important to keep these questions simple and easily understandable for your audience.
Start by segmenting your audience into the customers whose experiences align with their expectations from those who don’t.
From there, you’ll have the opportunity to ask follow-up questions that narrow down why experiences are being met or not, allowing you to analyze VoC feedback from the customers that matter most to your business objectives. Common questions used to identify the VoC include:
Recommendations and brand loyalty questions
Recommendation survey questions, such as those used in Delighted’s NPS software, allow you to assess how loyal customers are to your business and brand. NPS surveys use a 0-10 scale and an open-ended follow-up question.
NPS survey question 1: How likely are you to recommend this business, company, product, service, or website to others?
NPS survey question 2: Why did you answer the way you did? This is an open-ended question that further probes customer motivation.
Follow-up loyalty questions shine more light on customer motivation:
Additional Question 1: What might prevent you from continuing to do business with us over time? Use multiple choice with a free-form “other” option. Choices might include: Customer service quality, Product selection and availability, Product quality, Pricing
Additional Question 2: How likely are you to switch to another brand, company, product, or service? Use a sliding or numeric scale from Very unlikely to Very likely.
Voice of the Customer products and services questions
Questions designed to measure the value your customers obtained from using your products or services can help your team collect deeper insight into what’s working and what’s not. Some question examples include:
- Did you find what you were looking for?
- Did anything prevent you from completing your purchase?
- Is there a product or service you were looking for that we did not have?
- Did our customer service help you resolve an issue? Follow up with an open-ended “Why or why not?” question.
- Were you satisfied with our company, product or service? Pair with a sliding scale or Yes/No option.
- What are the most important [qualities/characteristics] you look for in a company, product, or service? A multiple-choice answer is a good option for this question. Remember to provide an open-ended other field or a “none of the above” option.
Origins VoC question examples
Origin questions are designed to provide a deeper insight into the discovery phase your customers experienced when first interacting with your brand.
- How did you hear about our company, product, or service?
- Where did you learn about our company, product, or service?
Brand perception questions
Brand perception is how your business, products, and services are perceived in the mind of customers, prospects, employees, and other stakeholders. Simply put, a brand is an idea or collection of ideas tied to your company or product.
Here are some sample brand perception questions to get you started:
- When you think about our company, product, or service, what comes to mind?
- Where have you seen or heard of our brand, company, product, or service over the last 2 months?
Want more ideas for questions to ask? Check out these 52 customer satisfaction questions to ask your customers, organized by customer journey stage. Then, these customer journey stages and questions can easily be implemented into a customer journey map for full Voice of the Customer organization, visibility, and action planning.