Do you know what the difference is between successful and unsuccessful businesses?

The successful ones understand their customers.

They pay close attention to what their customers are saying. They know that business metrics like revenue and churn tell only a part of the story. They understand that to know why customers make certain decisions, it is critical to understand customer perspective.

Don't believe me? Here's what Steve Jobs once said about it: "Get closer to your customers than ever. So close that you can tell them what they need before they realize it themselves."

Start solving for the customer today with these 17 templates. 

If you dream to become an industry leader, you have got to listen to your customers -- because customer-perceived value is one of the leading drivers of business success. You need to know:

  • Why your customers need you?
  • What can you help your customers with?
  • What are your customers looking for?
  • What are their interests and behavioral patterns?

It requires a lot of patience and an in-depth understanding of customers. And that's the only formula to become successful.

But now the question that might be popping in your head could be "How do I find that out?"

It might sound daunting to many, but trust me, understanding your customers and building a solid customer relationship is no rocket science at all. There are certain techniques that you can follow to get reliable answers. And this is what we'll cover in this post.

Regardless of the industry we belong to, we know that it costs organizations five to 25X more to attract a new customer than it does to retain an existing one. Thus, the importance of retaining existing customers over acquiring a new one is well established here. So, we'll keep our focus on the techniques to do the former.

If you search the web or talk to your industry colleagues, you'll come across numerous techniques and best practices. But the one that has worked for many is capturing the voice of the customer (VoC).

According to the research by Aberdeen Group report, titled "The Business Value of Building a Best-in-Class VoC Program," best-in-class VOC users enjoy an almost 10X greater year-over-year increase in annual company revenue.

So ... what is Voice of the Customer?

What is Voice of the Customer?

Voice of the Customer (VoC) is used to describe the needs and requirements of the customer. It is the process of capturing all of what a customer is saying about your business, product, or service.

It helps you visualize the gap between your customer expectation from your brand and their experience.

Voice of Customer is imperative for business functions like customer success, operations, and product development. Working together, these groups can identify and improve all stages of customer journey by improving the products and services used by the customers.

How Voice of the Customer Impacts Your Business

By capturing Voice of Customer, you can connect and engage with customers at all the touch points in the customer journey. This technique helps you:

  • Spot early warning and potential brand crisis
  • Evaluate new concepts, ideas, and solutions
  • Customize your products, services, add-ons, and features to meet the needs and wants of your customers
  • Increase customer retention
  • Serve your customers with what they really need

1. Customer Interviews

Customer interviews are one of the traditional techniques to collect VOC data. It is commonly used to understand particular customer point-of-view regarding product or service issues, attributes, and performance measures. You can choose to perform this for either a particular customer or for a group of customers with some common attributes. Usually executed in person, on the phone, or through email.

While the cost of in-person interviews is the highest among all forms of interview, it is still considered to be the most useful form for building trusting customer relationships. This is because customers perceive this type of interaction as more personal.

2. On-Site Customer Surveys

Another great way to capture VoC is by conducting on-site customer surveys. These surveys help you in understanding your customers and addressing the issues they face.

Source: VWO

However, if you don't ask the right questions with the help of the right platform, you may never get reliable answers. That's why you need to put in a lot of thought while designing your surveys. With platforms like VWO or SurveyMonkey, you can choose from the different types of surveys available, such as yes/no type, multiple option-based surveys, drop-down surveys, and textbox-based surveys.

3. Live Chat

According to a study, 44% of online shoppers feel the best feature an ecommerce website can have is a live chat.

Having an on-site chat is an incredible method of collecting real-time customer feedback and reducing the possibility of your customers feeling unsatisfied.

The use of live chat is not limited to listening to customers complaints and resolving them. It is also a good tool to capture Voice of the Customer data. For this, you can schedule a follow-up survey of all the customers connecting with you through a chat, like the one shown in the image below. You can use HubSpot Messages to get live chat up-and-running on your website.

4. Social Media

Social media is a potent ingredient of the feedback cocktail, as it provides you the opportunity to have a two-way communication with your customers.

On any of the most commonly-used social platforms like Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn, you can tap into relevant ongoing conversations, connect with those customers by actively participating, or quietly listen (while lurking and taking notes). The core strength of social media lies in allowing you to have a more direct and real-time conversation with the people using your products or services. The following exchange is a good example:

While a good way to gather feedback, look for trends, and create stories, it may be more challenging to turn this into hard data. But you are now hearing feedback -- direct and unfiltered -- from customers.

5. Website Behavior

Your website is a great place for you to capture the voice of customer data. Besides chat and on-site surveys, another way to collect this data is by analyzing your customer behavior on the website. You can do it in a jiffy by leveraging tools like heatmaps, scrolls, and visitors recordings. You can also opt for a single platform that'll allow you do all this -- like CrazyEgg -- and you won't have to invest in multiple tools.

6. Recorded Call Data

If you're planning to leverage historical data, recorded call data might come in handy. Recorded calls with your customers can give you a broad overview of how they perceive your brand, what sort of objections do they have, and what else do they expect from the brand.

Though this technique requires a lot of time, it is always advisable to do this every now and then. What it'll also do is help you with training your customer support team with better objection handling and enhancing your customer service.

7. Online Customer Reviews

Your online reputation isn't just the result of what you generate at your end -- it includes all instances in which your business appears online, including online reviews. With online review sites like G2 Crowd, Finances Online, TrustRadius, TrustPilot, Capterra, and Angie's List, it's essential to understand the impact they have on your business and how you can use reviews to earn your online reputation.

The examples of negative and positive reviews below can help you understand your customers.

Moreover, 86% of visitors hesitate to purchase from a business that has online negative reviews. With such statistics, it becomes crucial to not just ensure positive reviews, but also handle negative reviews.


8. Off-site Surveys

Opting for an off-site survey is yet another method to capture the Voice of Customer. Although this may not be a popular method for large business setups, it's leveraged by lots of medium-sized businesses when conducting customer research -- and it can be done using a tool as simple as Google Docs.

9. Net Promoter Score

Net Promoter Score (NPS) is a management tool that is used to measure the loyalty of a company's customers. This customer loyalty metric was developed by Fred Reichheld, Bain & Company, and Satmetrix Systems.

NPS gives you quick and reliable feedback from customers. The way the system works is easy. Customers need to answer this simple question on a scale of 0–10:

"How likely are you to recommend our company to a friend or a colleague?"

nps measurement

10. Focus Groups

This is where a group of eight to 12 customers meet in a room, where they are asked to share their perceptions, beliefs, and opinions about your product or service. The group participants are free to openly talk with one another.

This data collection method is used to gain insights into customers' prioritization of needs, or to test concepts and get feedback. Focus groups are sometimes used in addition to interviews and surveys as the last step to further investigate and understand the Voice of the Customer for each of the company's touch points.

11. Emails

This method can be as informal or as formal as you want it to be. You can send highly personalized emails to particular customers or create a template that can be used for the entire target. You also have the option to either ask for feedback as a response to your email (which might be unstructured and time-consuming) or add a link in the email body to one of your surveys.

E-mail Surveys

12. Dedicated Feedback Form

The last option is to have a dedicated feedback form on your website -- and this is really more of a mandate than an option. No matter which other methods you plan to choose to capture VOC, you cannot skip having an on-site feedback form.

Give your existing customers and website visitors the opportunity to share their feedback at any point in time. Don't make them wait unless you feel that there is a need to capture their voice.

Those who understand the importance of capturing the VOC mostly use a combination of 3 to 4 different methods to see what works for them. A study conducted back in 2010 confirms the same:

Final Thoughts on Voice of the Customer

  • The entire process of capturing VOC should be data-driven and at no point should you make any assumptions.
  • In-depth knowledge of your user's journey and customer lifecycle is a must.
  • Don't forget to skim through historical data.
  • Leverage Google Analytics for better customer analysis.

The bottom line is to be highly customer-centric to engage and retain your existing customers.

A successful VoC program will provide you with all the insights that you'll need to understand customer preferences, problems, and complaints. However, the drill doesn't end here -- it's just the tip of the iceberg.

Now, you have to put these insights into action, and then identify and respond to the Voice of the Customer to improve customer satisfaction and loyalty. Use VoC to increase customer retention. Be a pathfinder and hero in your organization by investing in products, feature enhancements, and services that will make your company stand out from the rest.

Net Promoter, Net Promoter System, Net Promoter Score, NPS and the NPS-related emoticons are registered trademarks of Bain & Company, Inc., Fred Reichheld and Satmetrix Systems, Inc.

Customer First Templates
 New call-to-action

Originally published Feb 5, 2018 8:00:00 AM, updated November 26 2018


Customer Retention