What is Voice of the Customer?

VoC is an acronym for Voice of the Customer. It means slightly different things within different organisations, but in essence it is the process of gathering feedback from customers on their experience of a particular product or service and then acting on that feedback. That second part is very important since it is here that the benefits of actively listening to your customers should be derived.

Customer satisfaction surveys, and customer research in general, have been around for a very long time indeed. Modern VoC programmes differ from this by seeking to collect much larger volumes of feedback (in some cases from every transaction a company is involved in), and using this feedback (often in close to real time) to deliver a benefit to the business.

There are a number of ways that this can happen.

  1. Customer recovery. When a customer has a bad experience, a business can jump in and try to fix it. If successful it leads to very high customer advocacy as a result. You can imagine for yourself that a company that goes the extra mile to put things right would encourage loyalty.
  2. Service and process improvement. By understanding where things are going wrong you can adjust how your business works and improve outcomes for your customers. This can include providing direct feedback to front line staff to improve the service they offer.
  3. Proposition design and development. Knowing what your customers need allows you to provide new products and services, or package the ones you have in a different way, and generate improved revenues.
  4. Regulatory approval. Sometimes a business has specific legal requirements that encourage them to ensure their customers feel like they've been treated fairly. VoC is a great way to evidence this (and to quickly alert you if the customer doesn't feel this way).

Organisations that are genuinely trying to put the customer at the heart of what they do use a VoC programme to capture real feedback and use it to modify their actions and priorities. When customers share their experiences, in their own words, it is a powerful source of detail that can highlight issues that had previously gone unnoticed.

The feedback itself can be captured at any moment in time, and using any channel. Whether you choose email, phone, SMS or web surveys is probably down to what you want to do with the feedback you're gathering. They have different costs associated with them, and they deliver slightly different results.

Most organisations that begin the process of collecting their customers' views don't regret it. When done properly it generates great value for the business and customer alike.

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