5 Ways to Gather Voice-of-the-Customer Feedback

5 Ways to Gather Voice-of-the-Customer Feedback

It’s been over a decade since Forrester’s Research announced that we’re living in the Age of the Customer, and customer-centricity has only intensified since then.

Today, the success of your business is tied to how well you can listen to your customers and incorporate their needs into your business model. Product design and development is a two-way street, and gathering Voice-of-the-Customer feedback is at the heart of this reality.

What is Voice of the Customer (VoC) data and what are the best ways to collect it?

Today’s post will cover the following topics:

What is Voice of the Customer feedback?

VoC is a term that describes a system for gathering and analyzing feedback from customers and prospective customers. VoC feedback can be used to improve products and services, shape company policies, craft messaging for marketing campaigns, and provide better customer service.

5 Ways to Gather Voice-of-the-Customer Feedback

Customer-centric companies prioritize the collection of VoC data, but they don’t stop there. They run additional surveys and crunch those numbers to figure out whether the market will respond favorably to changes that customers have suggested. They then prioritize the changes that they believe will produce this highest return on investment.

In other words, Apple won’t necessarily put the “home” button back on the next version of the iPhone just because some customers complained on Twitter. After all, there may be ten times that number who prefer the extra screen space that came with killing the “home” button. Everyone has an opinion, and only quantitative data will tell them whether they made the right choice by removing it.

5 Sources for VoC feedback

There are a number of different ways to collect VoC data. Here are five of them.

1. Surveys

Surveys are the obvious go-to for gathering customer feedback, and they’re a good starting place. The important thing to know is that when you’re just starting to study your customers, you’ll want to ask broad, open-ended questions.

For example, rather than asking your customers a multiple-choice question about what they value most in a product like yours (listing 4 or 5 choices), ask them something like: “What problem are you trying to solve with a product like ours?”

See the difference? With a multiple-choice question, you’re making assumptions about how customers will use your product. With an open-ended question, you’re letting them tell you what they want and need, and their answers might surprise you. Down the line you can ask closed-ended questions based on this data, but when you’re starting out, you simply don’t know what you don’t know.

With that in mind, here are four different ways you can ask survey questions…

On-page surveys: On-page surveys slide up from the bottom of a webpage. You can set up on-page surveys on your website using a platform like VWO or Hotjar.

Emailed surveys: You can send surveys via email. Your customers typically access the survey through to a link to a website that houses your survey, like Survey Monkey.

Exit-intent surveys: Exit-intent surveys pop up as someone shows signs that they’re about to leave your website (e.g., moving the mouse pointer to the top of the browser window). That’s a good opportunity to ask them why they’re leaving and what they were hoping to find on your website.

Post-support surveys: Many companies include surveys following phone or chat support to evaluate support and assess general customer satisfaction

Post-purchase surveys: This can be a great place to ask Net Promoter Score (NPS) questions, which help you determine how your customers feel about your brand. One caveat though—avoid asking the NPS question right away if you’ve got a robust product that customers need time to evaluate.

For example, we would never ask someone to tell us what they think of MRMcentral right after they sign up because they need some time to experience the platform and get to know it.

5 Ways to Gather Voice-of-the-Customer Feedback

2. Social media

Social media (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.) can be a good source of data to help you determine how your customers feel about you and what they think about your brand. As we mentioned earlier, you’re not getting a scientific sample of your user base from random tweets, but social media a good place to start gathering information and forming hypotheses. You can then use surveys to see how universal the opinions expressed on social media are.

A fascinating recent development in marketing is the use of sentiment analysis to scan social media and figure out what people, in aggregate, think about a given topic. Sentiment analysis uses natural language processing and text analysis to understand and quantify subjective mental states of large groups, and you can hire companies or use software to perform this kind of analysis for you.

3. Product reviews

This one is pretty self-explanatory. If what you sell gets reviewed on places like Amazon or Yelp, you can mine this data to get a sense of what people think about your brand.

4. Customer Interviews

Customer interviews are another good way to stumble across ideas to study further, and the trick is to really get your customers talking. In other words, don’t go in there with a list of predefined questions that you could just ask in a survey. Instead, have an open-ended conversation where they can discuss their needs, frustrations, drives, and how you might be able to help them get what they want out of life.

Pro Tip: Meet with them in person if possible, or interview them over video chat (since they may communicate things non-verbally). Phone conversations are a last resort.

5 Ways to Gather Voice-of-the-Customer Feedback

5. Live Chat Support

If you provide chat support on your website, mine those chat logs for data about what your customers want. You’ll learn all sorts of things about your products, messaging, and the quality of support you offer.

Becoming a more customer-centric organization

Assumption busting and company-wide buy-in is key to becoming a customer-centric organization, and it all starts with gathering VoC data.

It’s one thing to do your research before you begin developing a product, but why stop there? These days, customers are more than willing to offer their opinions, and what they say can help you remain competitive with each new product launch.

Needless to say, you’ll never please everyone… but if you can find a solid niche and make them fall in love with your brand, they’ll return the favor with their loyalty. And you’ll never know what they want unless you ask, so start with open-ended survey questions about their experience with your brand see where it takes you.