Building customer trust and distinguishing your organization from the herd begins with listening to what your consumers are saying and interacting on a personal level. But the ‘how’ can be complex when our customers are everywhere today.
Without a doubt, the best market research comes straight from the consumer. People are now telling brands and marketers exactly what products they like, what places they visit, where their interests lie and what their next purchase is – all through their smartphones and Google searches. It’s up to savvy marketers to listen to their client’s needs and change their tactics to match the Voice of the Consumer (VOC). This blog explores the benefits of VOC and more.
What is VOC?
VOC is a market research technique where an organization’s decision-making process is impacted by customer needs and wants through the collection of data. In other words, it’s the process of capturing all of what a customer is saying about your business, product, or service.
There are four aspects of the VOC, according to an MIT* paper:
- Customer needs: Gathering feedback from customers on their user experience.
- Hierarchical structure: Restructuring feedback into a clean structure by classifying goals according to relevance and urgency.
- Priorities: Analyzing the value of customer need in comparison to cost.
- Customer perceptions of performance: Using industry benchmarks to measure your business’ success.
Collecting this data can come from surveys, phone calls and emails, in-person outreach and social media just to name a few. It can also come from technological advancements; more specifically a formal VOC application. Companies need the right processes and tools to support this, if that is the route they wish to take.
Becoming a Customer-Centric Organization
A successful organization knows that acquiring a new customer is more costly (anywhere from five to 25 times more expensive) than retaining an existing one. So, trying out new methods to listen to your existing customers’ needs is essential.
As an example, 44% of online consumers say that having questions answered by a live person while in the middle of an online purchase is one of the most important features a Web site can offer. Some organizations, like Best Buy, extend this further by employing a Twitter customer service account that encourages real-time customer interaction with a pool of live agents.
Paying close attention to what your customers are saying can make or break you. A successful brand enhances the customer experience at every touch point. The late Steve Jobs understood this well. He said to “get closer to your customers… So close that you can tell them what they need before they realize it themselves.” Jobs’ legacy lives on today within Apple’s brand identity and the fact that selling positive customer experiences is more important than selling more product.
Online customer reviews are also an asset. Online review sites like G2 Crowd, TrustRadius, TrustPilot, Capterra, and Angie’s List can accelerate the customer feedback process and help understand the impact of your business. Indellient Inc. and IBM have even created an AI-based solution that uses machine learning algorithms to dive deeper into the true sentiments behind customer reviews. The solution helped IBM understand exactly which of almost 100 offerings the reviews were about, and even what aspect was the focus for more accurate decision-making going forward. Because if you truly want to listen to your customers – you’ll have to listen to what they’re not telling you as well.
The moral of the story? Act on your customer feedback TODAY – it comes in many forms and all are vital to your success!
* Griffin, Abbie and Hauser, John, (1993). The Voice of the Customer. Marketing Science, 12(1): 1-27 (Winter), p. 1