The voice of the customer, or VoC, is arguably one of the most critical elements of a successful business strategy. After all, your customers are your source of revenue, so listening to them should be a top priority.
In more recent years, however, the need to understand the voice of the customer has become even more imperative to hone in on. With new technologies and the increase in customer expectations, voice of customer strategies have emerged as a proven tactic to increase satisfaction and boost the bottom line. In fact, just a few short years ago Gartner reported that best-in-class VoC users enjoy an almost 10-times-greater year-over-year increase in annual company revenue compared to all others. Not to mention, companies that actively engage in a voice of customer program, spend 25% less on customer retention than those that don’t.
Although proven to be beneficial, creating a successful VoC program, like any business venture, requires a level of research and preparation. This is especially true when you consider the multitude of channels a business can leverage to listen to their customers. Whether it be through an on-site kiosk or face-to-face, determining the channels you use to listen to your audience can determine what kind of information you receive.
In order to help you make a more informed decision on what tools to adopt, we’ve picked 4 of the most effective methods to help you design a more favourable voice of customer program.
For many industries, on-site kiosks are the tried and true way of capturing customer sentiment at the time of purchase or immediately after. While they’re on-site, a kiosk is both convenient and in most cases anonymous, two traits that contribute to an increase in timely and authentic feedback.
From an operations standpoint, kiosks are also an efficient option for those who want to measure customer sentiment across multiple locations. Whether you’re an enterprise business with multiple establishments nationwide, or a small business with a few establishments in your local town, having on-site kiosks can help you measure each location and compare them against each other.
What’s more, with an ideal feedback kiosk, you can collect data on the customer experience on an hourly, shift, and daily basis, while using reporting tools to understand trends and issues. Having all of this data in real-time can help you immediately identify what is needed to improve service delivery, so you’re providing exceptional customer experiences at all times.
According to Statista, by the end of 2019 the number of mobile phone users is forecast to reach a new high of 4.68 billion users. With smartphone adoption continuing to grow at an accelerated rate, mobile surveys have quickly become one of the most influential ways to connect to a whole range of customers, on an array of channels, across many locations. Whether you send an SMS text, a Facebook Message, or an email, a mobile-optimized survey can help you reach your audience in an instant.
As one of the most preferred methods, mobile surveys are also one of the most engaging in terms of surveying, meaning that you’re more likely to generate a higher response rate. If you’re considering a voice of customer strategy, we highly recommend implementing some sort of mobile optimized survey solution. The modern customer uses their phone daily, so reaching out to them on their phones will only heighten the probability of them completing a survey and increasing your response rates.
Lastly and more importantly, a mobile survey you can collect data on the customer experience on an hourly, shift, and daily basis much like a kiosk, while using reporting tools to understand trends and issues. This can help you further break down the experience and pinpoint where you need improvements.
Feedback sites like Google Review and Yelp hold a great deal of untapped insight provided directly from your customers. According to Statista, 71% of 18- to 49-year-olds occasionally provide reviews of a purchase and 49% of ages 50 and older do the same. For businesses looking to get first-hand insight without directly asking a customer, review sites are a great place to get an unbiased view.
With a review site, however, there is the downside of retrieving more negative comments than positive. When it comes to leaving reviews, a lot of people gravitate towards these types of sites to vent or warn others of their bad experience. In fact, according to American Express, “customers who have negative experiences are highly likely to share that experience by leaving a bad review. On the other hand a customer who has a positive experience, is unlikely to leave a good review, with about one in 10 happy customers leaving a good review.” Although insightful into where you can improve, it’s important to be mindful of the fact that negative commentary will be more popular.
If you’re considering using a feedback site as a tool, we highly suggest pairing it with a feedback solution so you can not only see negative responses but also prompt more positive ones. By engaging everyone, not just people who are upset, you gain a more holistic view of customer sentiment.
One of the less popular tactics due to its confrontational nature, one-on-one interviews are the ideal way of obtaining more qualitative voice of customer insights. Known for being an intimate tool for building strong relationships, this tactic can help you probe a customer’s answers and help come up with innovative ideas.
Although this is a great tool to become closer with your customers, it’s more confrontational nature is a downside. When asked directly, some customers might not be truthful or might hold back when divulging details, which can greatly hinder the premise of your voice of customer strategy. The key is to get honest insight on multiple aspects of your business, so having a customer hold back is less than ideal. What’s more, preparing one-on-one interviews can be quite time-consuming – detracting team members from more pressing tasks.
If you’re thinking of going the one-on-one interview route, we suggest posing it as a suggestion and pairing it with a less obtrusive survey method like a mobile-optimized survey. This way, the customer has options and it’s up to them whether or not they want to meet face-to-face.
How To Choose Your Ideal Tool
Deciding what methods of data collection you use for your voice of customer program should always be a strategic decision. Each type of feedback method will give you a different result, for example, a face-to-face conversation will give you an entirely different scope of data than a quick yes or no kiosk survey.
When deciding on your tool, you should be taking into consideration your audience age, trending channels, audience background, number of locations, where you make most of your sales, your intended goals, and so on.
An Omni-channel Consideration
Although each individual tool can be beneficial on its own, the most successful voice of customer programs are ones that include many channels, not just one. This is called an omni-channel strategy. With it, businesses can reach more people and collect a whole range of insights – so you aren’t limiting yourself.
Interestingly, in a recent study by Harvard Business Review it was proven that “73% of consumers shop on more than one channel”, in addition, Marketing Week cited that “consumers use an average of almost six touchpoints to connect with a brand – with nearly 50% regularly using more than four.”
Customers demand multiple channels, so in order to optimize your response rates, omni-channel should be a top consideration. If you have or are considering a Customer Experience Management solution, the ability to support omni-channel would require little to no uplift on your end and will have an enormous effect on your bottom line. As an establishment looking to step up your voice of customer program, moving towards omni-channel practices should be a top consideration.
With the constant flux in customer demands and an ever-growing competitive landscape, listening to the voice of the customer has become a critical element for flourishing businesses. By adopting one or all of the tools suggested such as a kiosk, mobile survey, one on one interviews, or a feedback site, you can gain a better understanding of your customers and business as a whole, to continuously drive success.