Voice of the Customer Best Practices


  • You cannot accurately predict what it takes to satisfy customers. But you can ask them what they want. That's why a Voice of the Customer (VoC) program is a requirement to efficiently meet customer expectations.
  • A VOC program captures, categorizes and prioritizes customer goals, expectations, preferences and dislikes. ┬áThis information is invaluable when applied to marketing and sales programs.
  • Voice of the Customer best practices share lessons that save time, reduce risk and improve results. They show which actions deliver results and which don't. They help prioritize what to do and can be equally helpful in determining what not to do.
Johnny Grow Revenue Growth Consulting

Voice of the Customer Best Practices

There is no singular way to create an effective Voice of the Customer program. But there are voice of the customer best practices that share valuable lessons on what works, what doesn't and how to maximize your results. Here are some of those lessons.


Start by Stop Being Presumptuous

Most executives believe they know what their customers want when making purchase decisions. And most are partially correct. Unfortunately, their inaccuracy lies in dated analysis, anecdotal occurrences, personal bias or simply projecting their own preferences and ideas onto their customers. In the wise words of Mark Twain, "What gets us into trouble is not what we don't know. It's what we know for sure that just ain't so."

Even small inaccuracies result in major degradation of marketing strategies and downstream effects in personalized messaging, relevant offers and campaign conversions. VoC programs replace intuition and guesswork with firsthand information from customers.

Voice of the Customer Best Practices

Buyer Insights Pay Big

Marketers looking for the customer intelligence to improve marketing campaign conversions and sales cycle win rates should use VoC to capture buyer insights. That means capturing 5 types of customer data to answer 5 questions.

  1. Change event. What compels the buyer to make a change from the status quo?
  2. Purchase process. What is the buyers purchase process?
  3. Purchase obstacles. What prevents the buyer from completing a purchase?
  4. Decision criteria. What are the buyers top decision-making criteria?
  5. Top benefits. What benefits does the buyer expect from the new product or solution?

Capture Three Types of Feedback

There are three types of customer feedback to consider.

  1. Direct feedback is the input provided by the customer to the company. This may be done with email surveys, online website surveys, live chat or telephone interviews.
  2. Indirect feedback is input customers provide to a third-party that is picked up by the company. This is most often obtained with social listening tools that search social networks and independent review sites. It can be more valuable than direct feedback as it is without pretense or posturing.
  3. Inferred feedback is measured input from customers. It may be acquired using telemetry, IoT or digital footprints to show how customers are using your product or service. Or it may be inferred from the types or volumes of customer service incidents, order frequency or the breadth of product renewals.

Each type of feedback delivers something different. Collectively they identify a more complete picture of the customer.


Segment Customers

Treating all customers the same can alienate your best customers and is the surest path to mediocrity. Trying to please everyone often results in pleasing no one.

Customers are not homogenous so your data should be captured by customer segment or persona. Create customer segments based on variables that show patterns of customer traits, characteristics, preferences, behaviors and potential.

Customer segments enable more personalized messaging, relevant offers and customer engagement. And the interesting thing about improved engagement is that it fuels even more engagement which then accumulates more qualitative data, and in turn creates richer customer profiles and more meaningful customer intelligence.


Advance from Data to Insights to Action

Voice of the customer best practices are all about collecting, learning and acting. It's that last step of turning words into action that causes most programs to fall short.

Most companies operate VoC programs. They send customer satisfaction (CSAT) or Net Promoter Score (NPS) surveys and they tabulate the results. However, they fail to turn findings into improvements.

Research from Forrester found that 71 percent of respondents said their VoC program was not effective in driving actions. And research from Temkin Group found that while 70 percent of companies are collecting customer feedback, only one-third believe that they are using that information to solve problems or make changes.

When customer survey data sits in a siloed repository it often goes unused. To turn data into action, it should be integrated with other customer data, such as the 360 degree customer view in your CRM system, so that it can be easily shared and distributed to the people who can apply it for improvements.

360 Degree Customer View

Shift from a Piecemeal to Holistic Customer Profile

Taking the above best practice a step further, it's important to recognize that VoC data is only one source of customer intelligence.

it is valuable but incomplete in rendering an accurate customer profile. It's most often a single channel source that tends to attract customers who have recently experienced a very positive or negative interaction.

VoC data is most valuable when it is one source of many. When VoC data is appended to the customer record and linked with Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) data, transactional data and other data in the 360 degree customer view, it creates a more accurate and complete customer profile that lends to more effective downstream marketing and sales programs.

Customer Insights Integration to CRM

The above diagram shows an example of how customer intelligence can be centrally managed and categorized in the CRM system. Data is then easily available for filtering and extraction for marketing and sales purposes.


Share Customer Data Throughout the Company

In a customer-centric culture everyone is responsible for serving the customer, solving for the customer and growing customer affinity. But that can only happen when customer insights are shared and available at every interaction.

The goal is to make customer feedback, conversations, escalations, transactions and history easily accessible so that staff speak with confidence and customers recognize their importance. When customer information is democratized staff can deliver differentiated customer experiences and customers are impressed.

CRM dashboards are our preferred method to deliver real-time customer insights to the people that can apply them. We find them to be the most helpful when they are role specific, highlight the most important metrics, create alerts for deviations and show industry benchmarks that show a relative performance comparison.

Voice of the Customer Dashboard

See the Voice of the Customer best practices to improve product innovation, customer engagement, campaign conversions and marketing ROI.

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