Voice of the Customer (VoC) programs are evolving from basic survey and customer feedback programs to more comprehensive programs that companies are using in a variety of ways for a mix of benefits.

In the 2021 Insight Voice of the Customer Survey,  global venture capital and private equity firm Insight Partners found that half of the companies it surveyed had VoC programs.

Those that aren’t could be missing out because VoC programs have the potential to drive considerable company ROI by driving product innovation, demand gen, and higher rates of retention, Insight Partners said in a blog. “As a company’s customer base grows, VoC offers a scalable customer engagement platform that doubles up to generate rich customer insights while also fostering customer-centricity, brand affinity, and product stickiness.”

According to Levi Kugel, Quantum Metric director of customer success strategy, accelerating customer satisfaction is a key element but what’s going on in the trenches out there in organization’s. In a recent roundtable, a couple of Insight’s portfolio companies discussed their uses of VoC programs.

Using Voice of the Customer to Influence Strategy

VoC was in the founding DNA of the company with simple customer onboarding and exit surveys, said Real CMO Lynda Radosevich. “Then we started doing qualitative surveys to get more insight into what people were happy or unhappy with. Our VoC influences our product direction and strategy. What I most appreciate is that we have data going back to the beginning. Don’t be afraid to start gathering, even if you don’t have a strategy yet. You will find uses for it. We’ve used data for investors, we’ve used it for product roadmaps, we’ve used it to completely change our quarterly goals.”

Beyond the different VoC uses discussed by Quantum Metric and Real, other organizations are deploying VoC programs for other uses.

Creating and Organizing Comprehensive VoC Feedback

“VoC is an ‘essential’ — brands need to meet their customers where they are, whether that’s SMS, web, mobile app, social, or other digital channels, in order to fully capture the right insights at the right moment across the right channel,” said Jonathan D’Sousa, Emplifi vice president, product, social commerce cloud and service cloud. “It’s increasingly important to have VoC platforms support omnichannel feedback, and to be able to scale and support new channels on the horizon. This is especially the case with social media channels and their constant evolution.

VoC is becoming an integrated capability, D’Sousa added. “Customers are moving away from stand-alone survey tools, and look to VoC capabilities integrated within their marketing, customer service, and social commerce software tools and platforms. This is because ‘customer experience’ is relevant throughout the customer journey from marketing to sale to service to loyalty, and these touchpoints (and associated data) help shape VoC research.”

Many tools now provide templated surveys and feedback frameworks on everything from website design, product design, employee response surveys to typical service representative or brand experience feedback — this allows organizations to focus more on analysis and less on survey design.

Learning Opportunities

Better Organization of Customer Journey Feedback

Too often feedback is merely thrown at executives without the proper context of who gave it, when it was received and where along the customer journey the feedback came in, according to David Ciccarelli, CEO of Voices.

To better organize such feedback, whoever is leading the VoC program needs to distill the customer journey into four or five steps, Ciccarelli said. “By keeping it high level and everyone agrees that those are the critical touch points, then plotting feedback along the journey will provide the missing context. By doing this it's easier for executives to see and understand where the issues are and the volume of feedback at key touch points.”

Companies are then organizing the customer journey and highlighting comments in speech bubbles, colored red, yellow or green depending on the sentiment.

Voice of the Customer Is Helping to Replace Cookies

“As the death of the cookie slowly overtakes advertisers and developers' plans, first-party data has taken on a role of increased importance –– with the Voice of the Customer leading the charge,” said Anatoly Sharifulin, AppFollow CEO and founder. “Average rating and reviews are the most honest source of feedback from users and should be considered as the window to the voice of the customer. Understanding how users are feeling, and how they are communicating their ideas and perceptions is key to opening important conversations about your product.

Final Thoughts

Your customers hold the key to your business’ success. Voice of the Customer is an essential way of cracking that customer code to help improve your product, services and support.

How is your business using voice of the customer?