a chalkboard filled with customer feedback for a restaurant
How can businesses put all of the customer feedback they collect to good use? Follow these four tips PHOTO: Lisa @ Sierra Tierra

Collecting customer feedback is crucial, but there’s more to capturing the voice of the customer (VoC) than compiling readily available data and dropping it into a spreadsheet. 

Companies known for great customer service go beyond basic data collection — pulling feedback in from a variety of sources, carefully analyzing sentiment and leveraging key takeaways to improve products and services.

It’s no easy feat, but a well thought out VoC strategy that the entire organization supports can have a huge impact on increasing customer loyalty and reducing churn. Here are four tips to make the most out of customer feedback and better understand the voice of the customer:

Leave No Stone Unturned When Looking for Feedback

Many companies select one or two sources of feedback to track and measure success. In fact, it’s the most common mistake companies make when measuring VoC.

Your customers are talking to you and about you across numerous channels — over email, on message boards, in comments on review websites, in person, with a tweet and beyond. Collecting feedback from just one or two sources can skew results and leave your company with an inaccurate understanding of customer wants and needs.

Capture feedback from social networks, emails, review websites and voice transcriptions from contact center recordings. It’s also important to capture direct feedback from customers interacting with employees in-person. Make sure your company has a system in place for employees to record and submit any feedback they receive on the front lines. The fact that most of this data is unstructured shouldn’t scare you. Tools are available to decode the spoken and written word and drive to the real meaning behind the voice of the customer.

Pair Feedback with Demographic and Behavioral Data

Customer feedback will only get you so far if you’re looking at it in a vacuum. For example, a customer may tweet they dislike your packaging, but if you don’t know what product they’ve purchased, it’s impossible to make improvements. To truly understand customer sentiment and the end-to-end customer journey, pair feedback with loyalty information, purchase history and recorded digital interactions. Doing so allows you to pair customer preferences and past brand interactions with feedback, so you can better understand their wants and needs over time.

Analyze in the Context of Journey

If you’re drowning in data, but have a thirst for meaning, you’re not alone. 

According to recent research, 62 percent of brands say they are overwhelmed by the sheer volume of customer data. It’s impossible to make sweeping changes all at once, so focus on a few key areas at a time and don’t be afraid to follow your gut when deciding where to start first. 

If you think billing is a big problem, start by analyzing feedback on the payment process. Uncover key challenges and friction points and fix them one at a time.

Push Learnings to the People

According to Temkin Group, less than 4 percent of companies share data about customer issues with the departments or employees who can do something to fix the problem. That means — more often than not — critical insights about the customer journey are going to waste when this information could be used to improve products and services.

Make sure VoC data and insights are shared with relevant stakeholders within the company. For example, if a popular restaurant chain receives feedback about a scary parking lot at one of their locations, that information should be shared directly with the franchise owner or site manager who can install a floodlight, remove debris or instate a policy to walk customers to their vehicles for added safety.

Ideally, VoC and customer experience will be a corporate initiative that is backed by all departments. That’s the secret sauce for long-lasting customer relationships, a successful product roadmap and delivering best-in-class customer experiences.