How to Collect Actionable Feedback with Voice of the Customer Research

A popular method used to collect current and potential customer feedback, Voice of the Customer (VoC) research gives businesses data-driven insights to understand what customer’s think about their brand, products, services, and even concepts. Some typical research objectives addressed by VoC studies include investigating what customers want, understanding how customers feel about a product, service, or concept, what drives customer decisions, and how your products compare to those of competitors.

Organizations that effectively use VoC research to drive their business decisions create stronger customer experiences by listening and taking action that inspires brand loyalty, or “brand love.” The most loved companies, the ones with the most loyal customers, use VoC to explore customer expectations and actual customer experiences. The results measure the gap between the two and provides an opportunity to develop strategy to minimize the disparity between experience and expectations.

Why is VoC Research Important?

Voice of the Customer research is a critical tool used to build customer-centric, holistic strategies and maintain competitive advantage in your market. VoC helps you monitor your brand for early warning signs of potential brand crisis, screens new concepts, filters down solutions to current workflow challenges, allows you to tweak products and services to meet customer needs, guides budget decisions, and increases customer retention.

Still not convinced? Let’s dig into 5 key reasons you should be doing VoC research:

1- Measure Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

VoC allows you to measure several KPIs that give you direct insights into how your products and services are performing.  Aided or unaided brand or product awareness, positive or negative perceptions, and purchase intent, including purchase drivers, are all examples of KPIs that you can measure using VoC data.

2- Build Better Customer Relationships

VoC has a direct influence on building customer relationships by revealing opportunities to improve the customer experience. The output allows you to understand a customer’s journey when researching, purchasing, and eventually using a product. Additionally, understanding why customers keep coming back reveals a point of difference (PoD) among competition and helps you understand the key differentiators of your products and services from your customer’s perspective.

3- Learn from Your Mistakes

Mistakes are an inevitable part of doing business. With VoC data, you can better determine the source of a problem, contextualize the issue, and map out your best course of action all based on specific customer feedback. The data can also help you discern which of your customer’s pain points are most significant and prioritize the fixes accordingly.

4- Provide Exceptional Service

Inquiries can improve customer satisfaction levels by providing you with results on the technical training, response times, and interactions with service representatives and/or field engineers. These results can inform where you should allocate training time to appropriately build out the skill set of your customer success teams.

5- Extend Customer Relationships

VoC data helps you to understand what factors are most important to the success of your customers, and which products and services they value most. This helps you to build your product roadmap based on your customer’s needs, making them want to stick around for longer.

Research Types and Methodology

The methodology of VoC research has a lot of similarities to the empirical scientific process. A good VoC strategy starts with you defining your objectives. What are you hoping to accomplish with your study? Are you wanting to retain current customers, improve their experience, or gain new customers? Maybe the answer is all of the above. Regardless, you want to go into the study with some ideas, theories, questions, and goals. Once you’ve defined some objectives, it’s time to gather feedback. In the case of VoC research, feedback will be self-report data from customers, potential customers, or other samples you can access. After you’ve collected the feedback, you’ll need to analyze it critically and objectively. Finally, you’ve got to act. The data will tell you the story, it’s up to you to let it guide your insights and your steps forward for implementing what you’ve learned.

There are two types of research methodologies that can be used for collecting actionable customer data: qualitative and quantitative. Neither is superior to the other, they’re just appropriate for different circumstances, take you through different steps of the research process, and, often, get you different conclusions.

Qualitative research includes any non-numerical or observational data. Popular ways to collect qualitative data include interviews, focus groups, and open-ended questionnaires, but you can leverage other non-traditional techniques as well like live chats and social media. One of the main benefits of qualitative research is you’re more likely to get a “real” response from respondents. In these formats, people tend to feel less restricted than they do within the confines of a more structured survey where response options are on a 0 to 10 scale. This results in more naturalistic observations. It also is a great option if you don’t have questions or goals defined, because the broad, open-ended nature of qualitative research can act as a first step for generating ideas.

Contrary to qualitative research, quantitative research always has a numerical data output associated with it. In this format, you are setting up the potential responses that respondents can give you for each question, making it more defined and specific. This is a great option if you want to do statistical analyses like testing a hypothesis for significance or looking at quantitative differences between segments. This methodology allows you to generate common metrics like a Net Promoter Score (NPS) and gives you an opportunity to put real numeric values around more abstract concepts like brand awareness and customer pain points.

Actionable Insights that Guide Your Next Steps

VoC data should be taken in consideration at every point in the life cycle of a product or service, from planning and development to implementation and marketing for a holistic product experience. We’ve explained why having this type of data is important, and even given you some insights into effective methodologies for conducting your research, but to set up your study for success, you really need to think about where you’re going.

What do you really want to focus on after you take stock of all the data you’ve collected and all the analyses you’ve done? Think about what you could hone in on to improve your success with customers. What features do they want? What factors are bothering them? What would they like to see? What are they happy with? What are they unhappy with? And make sure that you identify the factors that you think could more successfully help you retain customers and get new ones.

Finally, you need to share the results of your research with the customers themselves. We’re not suggesting you share the spreadsheets of data, but rather communicate to the customers that the improvements they were asking for are being addressed. If customers aren’t told that their ideas are being implemented, they won’t feel that their feedback has had any effect. Customer loyalty grows when a business reports back to the customers with the specific action being taken in response to their comments.

In short, it’s like any relationship: communication is key. The more a customer feels heard by a business, the more they feel understood, the better their needs are addressed in meaningful ways and the more loyal they will be.

To learn more about how VoC research could positively impact your business strategy contact us today. Our team of market research experts look forward to discussing how we can partner with you to get you the insights you need to make data-driven decisions!