The “customer is king” mentality within business environments is still intact . In fact, customers now play an increasingly important role in how organizations shape their decision making and strategies. As customers are becoming more conscious, they are more likely to voice concerns and approval of goods and services available to them. If businesses are intelligent, they pay close attention to this feedback. Gartner research shows that paying attention to customer feedback can increase the likelihood of an up or cross-sell by 15-20% (SuperOffice) and reduce the expenditure on customer retention by a swift 25% (SuperOffice).
Customer data analytics will play a significant role in segregating businesses from their competitors and spearheading the direction industry development will take moving forward. For organizations looking to stay ahead of the curve and maintaining competitive positions within their markets, paying attention to the Voice of the Customer (VoC) will play a critical role within business and strategy development.
What is VOC
VoC or Voice of the Customer is an umbrella term used to categorize opinions, comments, expectations, sentiments and critiques offered by a customer base around products and services. By understanding, this information businesses are able to improve their existing products and enhance their customer service based on real concerns. This can prove to be an effective way to revamp or create stronger value propositions for your organization. VoC can be used to gauge the gap between what customers expect from the organization and what they actually experience.
Paying attention to customers today is exceedingly important. With multiple avenues to procure similar, if not the same products, including the internet and the flux of new businesses popping up daily, markets are the most competitive they’ve ever been. While pulling in customers is easier with disruptive products and better solutions, it definitely is not the only thing propelling strong business success and growth. Creating a loyal customer base is imperative to retaining market share and staying competitive.
Research carried out by Gartner proves most organizations are not competing on the basis of innovation, but 89% (Revuze) of companies are competing based on bringing in pools of customers that stay with the brand or company. Therefore it is clearly understood that the Voice of the Customer is an integral part of successful businesses.
Benefits of VoC include;
- Understanding customer needs through real information exchanges and direct queries. These include asking questions like “what do my customers want?” and “where can the product/service be improved”. With the right understanding of feedback, business development is a straightforward process.
- Crafting more pertinent strategies is easier when you are aware of customer requirements. This means businesses are able to find a middle ground between resources needed and what is achievable. Sometimes customers may put forward expectations or requirements that are harder to achieve with a single investment. With the information provided by VoC, businesses can plan and allocate resources to meet expectations periodically.
- The most important benefit offered by VoC includes being able to mitigate unfortunate surprises and possible failures. Building a customer-centric organization allows businesses to understand where they generate revenue and the importance of understanding customer needs/wants. Planning ahead to avoid critical concerns is simpler when end-users and their issues are factored in.
VoC takes the form of both solicited and unsolicited methods. Within the first case, businesses actively seek out information from customers by asking them for the same. This could take the form of questionnaires, surveys and in-person focus groups for a more hands-on approach towards information procurement. With unsolicited methods, this information is offered whether the organization has asked for the same or not. Social media plays a big role with unsolicited customer information. Every time a customer puts forth an opinion, picture or video clip on the internet about a product or service, the business can employ tools to not only find this information but understand the tone without direct employee intervention.
With over 8,000 tweets going up per second and 192 million Yelp reviews (Revuze) the power of information sharing has never been more rapid or pertinent. The methods used to harness the same is just as important. There are five critical steps to introducing a strong VoC strategy;
- Set Your Goal – Understand the question your organization is trying to answer by harnessing the information provided by the Voice of Customers. If there are specific issues attempting to be addressed, make sure queries searched for address the same.
- Collect The Data – VoC may offer information through surveys, phone calls, polls and social media. There are a number of tools and techniques in the market to harness the same. These include APIs and scraping tools that help not only to find the information out there but also to understand their context.
- Analyze the VoC – Once the findings are procured and the context with which they must be understood is in place, value must be deduced through analysis and interpretation. The process cannot be done manually. It is imperative to introduce the right tools into the situation to maximize information processing and optimization of the same.
- Draw A Conclusion – With the right tools facilitating analysis, specific trends and takeaways can be deduced. This helps a business identify what the audience is actually looking for and where possible pain points lie. With the conclusions deduced, the final step remains.
- Take Action – Once all the information is available to the organization, the last step is to put an action plan into place.
Using VoC correctly allows businesses to increase customer retention, improve product and service provision, prevent branding crises and allow the organization to strategize and plan ahead.
With the ongoing global pandemic, face to face interactions are limited, if happening at all. While this may be a problem for businesses employing conventional data gathering methods, forward thinking organizations have capitalized on the information available within the digital space. VoC is easier to capture now, with more customers using their virtual presence to buy goods and services and share feedback about the same.
It is critical to understand there is an overbearing sense of hardship and struggle during this period of time. Staying sensitive about the information exchanged and focusing on a message that doesn’t propel the purchase of non-vital resources can be misconstrued as a cash grab effort. For any business looking to introduce long term sustainability as an integral part of their strategy, keeping VoC at the heart of its operations is vital.
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SGA Digital Marketing TeamFebruary 8, 2021