4-step voice of customer strategy

To enjoy continued success, a business must listen to its customers. This is where a Voice of Customer strategy comes in.

For the uninitiated, a Voice of Customer (VoC) strategy centers around customer feedback. It is a method for a company to collect, analyze and act on this feedback, which nurtures a culture that is based around the customer. With their wants and needs placed in the spotlight, a business can improve their products, services and brand in general to deliver an unparalleled customer experience.

We cannot understate the importance of accurately capturing and understanding your customer wants and needs. When using the right channels to collect feedback from the right people, you gain a lot of valuable – and actionable – information. Meaningful improvements can then be made, which results in more sales, revenue growth, and the ability to stand out from the competition.

If you are wondering how to put together an effective VoC program, the following guide has you covered.

Four Steps for developing a voice of customer strategy.

There are various aspects to cover for a successful VoC program. Below are the main steps to take when developing your strategy.

Step #1: Identify customer segments and personas.

Woman with blow horn representing a voice of customer strategy.

In a lot of cases, it is not a case of simply targeting any customers you come across. This will not provide the accurate, relevant information you seek. You have to target the right segments and personas for insights that are relevant to your cause.

For example, a customer who makes regular purchases is likely to supply different feedback than someone who has only flirted with buying one of your products.

For segmentation and personas, gather as much information as possible about each customer, including their interests, buying habits, age, gender, income, values, and geographic location. With this gathered information, divide these customers into groups based on certain commonalities. Each group should be distinct from the other, but try to avoid any which are too small and unable to represent a decent chunk of your audience.

By dividing customers up in this way, you can customize the way you gather feedback from each audience, and this helps to acquire more valuable insights.

Also Read: 6 Ways to Gain Customer Insight for Your Business

Step #2: Collect customer feedback through surveys, interviews, and other methods.

Customer satisfaction survey questions, a key part of a voice of customer strategy.

The next step is to collect that all-important customer feedback. There are various methods, which cover both direct and indirect research, that assist with getting feedback you can use for your Voice of Customer strategy. Here are the most effective ways to collect customer feedback:

Feedback surveys: Surveys are a must for any voice of customer program. You can directly ask the questions that matter most, gaining valuable insights for your business. Surveys can also be sent out to numerous customers with ease. To keep participants engaged, make sure to keep questions succinct and use formats like closed-ended and rating scores.

Customer interviews: Interviews are another way to receive direct feedback from customers. While they are generally done on a smaller scale compared to surveys due to resources and logistics, interviews and focus groups could supply even richer insights. This is because you can ask detailed questions and follow-up questions, opening the door to in-depth responses from participants.

Customer reviews: When searching for a great secondary source of customer feedback, look no further than customer reviews. Reviews are often full of data, both positive and negative, that a business can make use of with their Voice of Customer strategy.

Social media: It is common for people to voice brand opinions via their social media channels. Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, YouTube, Facebook – platforms such as these are full of remarks about businesses both big and small. These comments can also travel fast, so you need to stay on top of social media to quickly detect any negative chatter.

Website analytics: Tracking website traffic is wise for your VoC efforts. You can learn a heck of a lot about what your customers like, what they do not like, and much more. You can analyze everything from which pages are the most engaging to those which are causing people to abandon a potential purchase.

With direct feedback, it can be tricky to entice responses from customers. This is where tactics such as follow-up emails, contests, and free rewards can bump up response numbers.

Step #3: Analyze and interpret customer data.

Graphs and charts on paper, computer screen, and mobile screen.

Once the customer data is collected, it is time to go through it and obtain valuable insights for your business. Depending on how and where this information is gathered, it is possible you could find yourself in a position where you must crawl through a lot of content before finding anything of worth.

That is where using specialist tools can automate the process and make a world of difference. These brand sentiment tools can also help with accurately analyzing and interpreting the data you have collected.

It is essential you take the right approach with this step. Even if you have a large pile of juicy data, it can all end up being ineffectual if it is interpreted the wrong way. When it is done right, however, you have the foundation for making influential, fruitful changes to your business.

Step #4: Use customer insights to develop a plan of action.

Image with the word "strategy" on it.

There is no point going through the hassle of gaining these customer insights if they are not used. As a result, the final step of your VoC strategy should be to develop a plan of action.

What does a plan of action entail? This is where you take what you have learned from your customer insights, and you put together a plan where business changes are made based on these insights. These changes can affect your approach to service, product development, branding, and so on.

As an example, a customer survey may have revealed that people are unhappy with a certain function of your product. The plan of action will look at how this problem is addressed, what needs to be done to correct it, and the steps required before making the highlighted product improvement.

Related: How to Create a Competitive Business Plan

Implementing a voice of customer strategy.

You have the plan of action. Now it is time to implement your Voice of Customer strategy. Of course, the route you take is dependent on the customer data you have collected. You may have focused exclusively on product improvements, for instance, or it could have been a way to learn how your brand is currently perceived by your audience.

Customer feedback is often incorporated into product development and design. Understandably, customers have plenty to say – both good and bad – about the product they have purchased. With this feedback, you can learn about existing flaws that are troubling customers. This information can then be used to either design a new product or to enhance your current offerings.

Another popular method to use customer feedback is with the improvement of customer service and support. A business needs a strong approach to customer service to survive in this day and age. Negativity can spread like wildfire on social media, and this has the ability to burn down years of work overnight.

By analyzing recent feedback, it is possible to improve elements like customer service and support – and put out any fires before they grow and cause damage.

Best practices for a Voice of Customer strategy.

Notebook with the words "Business", "Plan", and "Schedule" underlined.

The steps listed above are a great starting point for your Voice of Customer strategy. Nevertheless, there are other tactics you can incorporate to ensure this strategy is fleshed out and maximizes its benefits for your business. Here are some best practices to consider:

Use a variety of feedback channels.

Above we have recommended various feedback channels to use like surveys, social media, and customer service interactions. When you go through these channels, it is easy to simply pick one or two and go from there with your VoC plan.

However, it is recommended that you go with a nice variety of feedback channels. This means incorporating as many as possible different types into your strategy.

The more feedback channels utilized, the more diverse and valuable opinions you come across. For example, customer interviews may reveal different information than, say, customer reviews.

Ultimately, these feedback channels are the most integral components of your Voice of Customer plan. Without the information they provide, you have nothing to go off with your analysis. Think of it like studying for a test. The more information you take in, the better prepared you are to ace the test. Similarly, the more customer data you gather, the more you will understand their pain points, criticisms, positives, and so on.

Related: 5 Benefits of Opinion Mining

Consistently gather and analyze customer feedback.

Can you opt for a one and done approach with your Voice of Customer strategy? Yes. Should you? Absolutely not.

It is vital you consistently gather and analyze customer feedback. Opinions change over time. What was given a seal of approval in the past might not be in the present. As a result, the information you have gathered and analyzed can quickly become outdated.

It might sound dramatic, but this information can lose its effectiveness after just a few weeks. This is particularly the case if you are analyzing customer opinions on recent trends or the current perception of your brand.

To avoid this problem, make sure your VoC strategy is continually in action. Collecting the most up-to-date feedback from customers is the most valuable for your business.

Imagine if a product has begun to receive an unusual number of one and two-star reviews. It is urgent you analyze these reviews right away to pick up on any consistent issues across customer comments. The quicker you pick up on problems, the quicker these can be rectified – and ensure those sales numbers are not negatively impacted too much.

Up-to-date customer feedback is especially key for knowing how your business is viewed. With the power of social media, opinions on your brand can shift dramatically in an instant. By seeing the winds of change in real time, you can react with the speed necessary if negative opinions are forming.

Also Read: Understanding Voice of Customer Services

Actively listen to and engage with customers.

Man listening through a paper cup phone, representative of listening in a voice of customer strategy.

As mentioned in the previous tip, you need to actively listen to customers. However, this is a lot easier said than done. A business only has so much time and resources available, and these cannot be dedicated solely to tracking every social media mention or review that is received.

That is where GapScout can be the perfect partner.

By using GapScout, all the hard work is taken off your plate. It automates the responses that are sent in by customers, delivering you with all the current and relevant takes they have about your brand, products, service, and so on. You could use GapScout on a daily basis, for instance, to get a summary of your customers’ latest thoughts and opinions.

Tracking customers this way is also imperative for engaging with what they post. Responding to social media posts and reviews may not seem that big of a deal, but it can go a long way to boosting public perception. Carefully constructed public replies to disgruntled customers can help repair relationships, while other people can also see the professionalism and care taken by your business.

One final takeaway…

Business success requires various elements. One of the most essential is to understand the needs and wants of your customers. Without this understanding, you will fail to hit the mark with your products and services.

To improve both customer satisfaction and loyalty, it is essential to incorporate a Voice of Customer strategy into your business operations. By listening to your customer base – along with learning about their wants, needs, and current issues – you can deliver across the board with your business, which will impact your customer satisfaction and therefore increase your number of return customers.

Every successful company uses this strategy. If you are not currently going down this route, it is time you change direction with your business. It is a quick, effective way to understand how to improve your products and services. The result: you sell more, make more, and grow successfully.

By following the guide above, you have the foundation to devise your own Voice of Customer strategy and boost your business.

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Justin Ferriman
Justin Ferriman
Justin is the founder of GapScout, the easiest way for solopreneurs and small businesses to find profitable gaps in their market. Follow Justin on Twitter→

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