Home Blog Customer experience What is Voice of the Customer (VoC)?

What is Voice of the Customer (VoC)?

what is voice of customer

Annoyed about yet another survey in your inbox? Do you wonder if anyone is really listening? Customer surveys are a vital part of Voice of the Customer (VoC) programs so it’s not a waste of time. Whoever’s sending those surveys to you, they are listening! Well, most of them are. VoC programs helps organizations listen to and engage with their customers so they can respond to their needs, their desires… their pains too. And when these companies do it right, they use what they learn from customers to make better decisions across the business. Many leading organizations like eBay and Best Buy have proven they can really grow their business that way. Now everyone wants a VoC program! So what exactly is Voice of the Customer?

Definition of Voice of the Customer  

Voice of the Customer (VoC) is the process of collecting feedback data so that you can better understand what your customers think and feel about their interactions with your brand. VoC programs really help get to the core of your customers’ requirements as well as their perception of your products and services. Used properly, VoC is  a great way for you to spot issues, potentially stopping at-risk customers from switching to your competitors; it can also reveal where cross-sell and up-sell opportunities exist. 

But where to start? Our guidance is to begin with the end goal in sight. Developing a framework for how the KPI’s of your business align with the customer experience will set you up to prove the financial impact of a VoC program (and CX more broadly). Engaging your executives early in the process not only supplies an opportunity for framing the program correctly, but also to secure executive buy-in. 

What’s next? Assuming you have a firm grasp of your customers’ journey, you have two options: 

  1. For steps in the journey that have known issues, you can set up listening posts to capture feedback about those interactions (e.g., via transactional surveys), via email, mobile, web pop-up… whatever channel’s best for your customer (and bear in mind, different customers may have different preferences in the same survey, so offering multi-mode collection is key).  
  2. If you are just starting (and have no specific issue to address), starting with a relationship survey can show how customers feel about you overall. Using driver analytics, you will be able to discern where transactional listening should occur. This also will give you an overall assessment of the health of your brand. 

Ta-dah, you’re now capturing the Voice of the Customer. Now you also need a robust way to analyze all this data, extract meaningful insights, set up alerts so the right people can do something with the feedback and take action. In short VoC collection is only the start… The end goal is to improve the customer experience and create a positive impact on business outcomes. Easy, right? 

The Voice of the Customer has the potential to be a game-changer for your organization. It can increase retention rates, decrease operational costs, activate word of mouth to get new customers. But only if you don’t keep it contained to the CX or the marketing team. Its true power is unleashed when VoC seeps into all parts of the organization and becomes part of every business decision. 

Benefits of Voice of the Customer software?  

Listening to the Voice of the Customer requires a dedicated software platform that lets you segment your customers and engage with them via the right channel (email, web, mobile…). That way you can really understand their needs and expectations. It then gives you the ability to analyze it so you can figure out how to improve loyalty. The leading platforms also make it easy for you to close the loop with your customers and to make changes to the strategy and culture of your organization. And you guessed it! Forsta happens to offer such a platform.  

“Forsta enabled speed and flexibility as needs shifted [during the pandemic], especially in regard to the numerous survey and reporting updates. These quick updates to surveys and reporting enabled us to bring Covid-specific insights directly to senior leaders”. 

Jaclyn von Oven  
Director of Customer Experience Measurement and Insights, Best Buy

But a VoC program shouldn’t happen in a vacuum. That’s why most VoC solutions also boast about integrations… Without the right ones, your life will be significantly harder, and you’ll lose out on some great opportunities to make VoC part of your whole business. So, consider integrating your VoC program with existing platforms that handle CRM, Digital Marketing, Call Center, Analytics, etc. 

To give you the best start, Forsta has developed integrations with world-class solutions like Salesforce.com, Microsoft Dynamics, Zendesk, Tealium, Content Square, Tableau, Brandwatch, SPSS, and many, many more. Chances are you’re already using a couple of these platforms and you’re now thinking about all the possibilities…  

What are the components of a successful VoC program? 

Need help figuring all this out? Here’s a list of what you should keep in mind when planning and designing your program, so that it delivers results for you and your organization. 

  • Executive sponsorship 
    Without exec buy-in, you’re facing an uphill battle. With it, the world’s your oyster. Execs who believe in VoC and its power will unlock the budget and resources to boost your program. 
    Tip: Exec sponsorship can be a double-edged sword. Nurture it with lots of [metrics-based] reassurance that you’re contributing to the business.  
  • Customer-centric vision 
    This often stems from the previous item, but not always. What you need here is a sense of where you’re going. What does success look like in a year, in 2 years, in 5 years. What are your specific goals and key milestones? 
    Tip: Make this vision measurable – and put in place the means to track progress. 
  • Engagement 
    Not just the executive kind… To succeed you’ll need engagement from a whole bunch of stakeholders. Top to bottom, and all the way across. And that means aligning your goals with theirs too.  
    Tip: Recruit champions who can carry the message to their teams and tell the story in a way that speaks to them. 
  • Listening posts 
    Map the customer journey before you get started. Highlight key touchpoints, often called “moments of truth”: interactions where you tend to win your customers’ loyalty or lose it altogether.  
    Tip: Put the right “ear to the ground” … Use the channel and method that make sense at that moment. Hint: it might not always be a survey!  
  • Top Analysis Capabilities 
    Advanced analytics lets you make sense of the data gathered. The right solution can simplify the way you gather and store feedback, and mine it for those gems of insight you need to make the right improvements. 
    Tip: Unleash the power of AI to dig deeper and faster into those mines. 
  • Action 
    Focus on this part, relentlessly. Data, insights, scores… they’re all just there to serve action. From ad-hoc, closed-loop activities, to strategic improvements that help a large section of your customer base. And everything in between. 
    Tip: Use the program to rally the forces within your organization towards the greater good. 
  • ROI 
    Early on, decide what the right VoC metrics are for your organization (NPS, CES…). Metrics do matter: the right ones link to your business’s core objectives, and its KPIs (retention, revenues, cost-to-serve).  
    Tip: Don’t get attached to one metric and choose what gives you the best insight, gets you to do the right thing and proves return on investment. 
  • Time 
    Good news is quick wins can be quite quick indeed – so focus on those at first but remember they can peak just as quickly. So, build the links early to track the success of those much slower wins.  
    Tip: Monitor your program’s results constantly, and adapt it as needed to serve the business. 

How VoC can influence business operations 

Voice of the Customer programs let you know what your customers think and feel, and what you need to do to keep them from switching to a competitive brand. But the true value of VoC comes when it seeps into all the different areas in your organization. Can you imagine how great it would be to have a customer sitting next to you when you’re planning improvements for your department, designing a new product, re-thinking your billing structure? OK, it might be a bit uncomfortable… VoC gives you that opportunity, without it being awkward. Get the right answers to the right questions, and make sure the right people see them so they do the right things – that’s how you can truly put the customer at the heart of everything you do (and not just say that you do!).  

“Since we started working with the Forsta team, the growth of our customer feedback program has been rather remarkable — it’s a living, breathing, evolving program. It delivers the information we need to create better customer experiences across business areas and has positively supported our efforts to retain existing customers.” 

Candy Michael 
VP of Customer Feedback, AIG 

Using VoC effectively to deliver a positive ROI 

So, we get feedback and do what it takes to make customers happier. And that’s it? Well, not quite. We’ve seen many VoC programs crash and burn with that approach. At some point, inevitably, someone at the top will say “show me the money”. And if you can’t, or if you need weeks to prove a decent return on investment, they might find someone who can do it better, faster. Or they might decide to ditch the program altogether, in favor of the latest money-spinning venture.  

And don’t make the mistake of thinking you can work out your program’s ROI a year or two down the line. Your best bet is to design your program from the start with ROI in mind. That way you can work out the right links between the way you measure customer loyalty and what it means in terms of real-world business outcomes.  

Say you use Net Promoter Score (NPS) or Customer Effort Score (CES) as your VoC metric of choice… How would a ten percent increase in this metric affect your retention rate, and how would that change profitable growth or ARR (or whatever your execs track as their metric of choice)? And it’s not just about revenues. Think about how happier customers might save you money, how they’re bound to call less often to complain. Work out all the links, and use the right VoC platform to help you, and you can really “show them the money”.  

The benefits of combining VoC with VoE 

But if your sole focus is on the customer, you’re missing a trick. Employees are also a treasure trove of magical insights but remain largely ignored. VoE programs are proving more and more popular and can deliver incredible results for your organization. Your staff are a captive audience, whether they like it or not… They understand how your organization works, and when it doesn’t. They hear your customers every day and often know better than anyone how issues could be fixed. And yet we don’t ask them. Instead, they get a survey once a year to ask them if they like their job and if they get paid enough. 

VoE programs are different. Yes, they track employee satisfaction, but not just once or twice a year. They take a constant pulse of your employee’s thoughts and feelings. But that’s not all. VoE programs are also a great way to inject your employees’ opinions into the Voice of the Customer. This approach lets you match your customers’ issues with employees’ solutions. And it makes your staff feel great when they’re heard, when they can make a difference for their customers, for their organization, for themselves. 

For example, many organizations are looking to crowdsourcing as a rich source of innovation. Tapping your employees for their ideas is one thing but making sure you capture and continue to deliver on these ideas is the challenge. But some technology companies are already rising to the challenge, with holistic platforms that support idea generation, idea management and business case development, in one holistic environment. 

How can Forsta Help? 

Forsta lets you listen to your customers – and your employees – in a way that suits them. Using the right channel, asking at the right time, taking the pulse when it matters. We put in your hands the tools and knowledge you need to make positive improvements. In the short term, helping you save the day, one customer at a time. And in the long term, showing you how to make sweeping changes that will affect many customers at once.  

At Forsta, we want you to be successful. We’re at your side every step of the way, with the technology and the services you need, when you need them. And we help you set everything up with ROI in mind.  

With Forsta, your VoC program is in safe hands. Now and in the future. 

Conclusion 

Feel like your VoC program’s been grounded for too long? 
Want to stay ahead of your customers’ needs.  
Rise above your competitors. 
Reach new heights for your business. 
Contact Forsta today and together, we can make your VoC program soar.  

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