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voice of the customer

Listening to the voice of the customer

Listening to the voice of the Customer

What is the voice of the customer?

Every firm desires to have loyal customers who through their consistent patronage eventually become company brand ambassadors or brand evangelists. A key strategy that an institution can implement to attract and keep customers glued to them is understanding their consumer’s needs. A Consumer need is a description by a consumer, of the benefits they seek to achieve after consuming your brand’s products or services. As they express their desires, their voices are heard. The voice of a customer refers to the input provided by a buyer in a buyer and seller relationship. This information helps the provider know exactly what to offer the consumer so that they can achieve satisfaction.

Why is this important?

An effective way for brands to achieve customer loyalty is to ensure that every client or customer who comes in contact with the brand, in one way or the other leaves satisfied. It should be a priority for every brand to listen to the voice of the customer because it directly or indirectly improves the competitive watch. When a brand listens, customer satisfaction is often guaranteed.

Customer satisfaction is a major competitive strategy and keeping customers happy is critical to long-term business success. As such, many companies have placed renewed emphasis on listening to their customers in an effort to better understand them. Customer-centric firms never leave the voice of their customers hanging or to chance. They constantly and consistently seek customer input and guidance to better serve their markets.

Many customers are not aware of the influence they have over brands. Brand equity starts with the customer. One of the primary roles customers play in business relationships is that they provide the information on the basis of which the trade is made. Communication from customers can help in smoothing daily business transactions, facilitating planning and reducing recurrent problems. It is therefore very essential to listen to the voice of the customer.

How can we listen to the voice of the customer?

A handful of techniques can be used to effectively listen to customers. These include but are not limited to; surveys, personal visits, interviews, focus groups, and complaints management. Brands may choose to make online reviews more fun, plan brand events and invite customers, especially during the customer service week to provide their feedback or to capture their voice. These strategies will enable brands to get first-hand information from their customers about the experiences they have with the brand and what can be done to make them better.

Some of these techniques are as simple as actively listening to the customer when they initiate an interaction with you or genuinely asking them how they feel about the service they have received. Other techniques such as surveys though still very simplistic could require the use of physical or digital questionnaires. Today, organizations make use of technological advancements in the areas of data science, and word and speech analysis to capture and analyze customer emotions and thoughts. There exist several voice of the customer tools that can be used to capture the voice of the customer.

What do Voice of the customer tools do?

Voice of the customer tools perform several functions that include and are not limited to;

  • The collection of vast amounts of data from diverse sources such as emails, social media, customer interaction platforms and phone interactions.
  • The Segmentation of data into useful subgroups based on the type of data and other internal similarities.
  • The collection and analysis of data at different points of the customer journey.
  • The use of natural language processing (NLP) technologies most of which incorporate linguistic categorization, emotion detection, and text and sentiment analysis.
  • The generation of online and offline reports, real-time alerts as well as notifications.
  • The performance of other advanced analytics on data such as support root cause analysis,  correlation analytics and the detection of trending topics.

These are just a few of the capabilities of tech-driven voice of the customer tools and the extent to which technology can be used to drive the voice of the customer programs.

Note that, whichever voice of the customer strategy is adopted by your institution each method is capable of setting your brand apart from competitors. Listening to the voice of the customer should be a priority for organizations wishing to improve their competitive position by leveraging on service capabilities.

There are important questions every organization must reflect on when it comes to listening to the voice of the customer;

  • Do we claim to be listening to the voice of the customer or do we actually do?
  • What does it entail for us to listen to the voice of our own customers?
  • How can voice of the customer programs change the way we deliver customer experiences?

Answering these questions is the first step to listening to the voice of the customer. If the customer is the reason for which our organization exists, then listening to their voice should be our everyday job.

Authors: Mirabel KIYONG, Kpunsa F. MBINKAR

voice of the customer

Voice of the customer: collecting customer feedback.

Author: Mbinkar, Kpunsa Fomunyuy.

This article on the voice of the customer aims at defining what this term means, identifying ways of collecting customer feedback and demonstrating a practical approach that can be used by organizations of any size to manage their voice of customer programs.

The products and services we produce are destined for use by the customer. One key function of the marketing manager is to identify customer needs and to ensure the products and services produced can meet these needs, then figure out how to communicate this value to the customers. This is important because when the products and services meet the customers’ expectations, they would be more likely to purchase and less likely to use competitive products. The only way to know if we were are able to achieve this objective is by gathering feedback from the customer. This is what we call listening to the voice of the customer.

Every organization needs to put in place a mechanism to capture the customer’s voice at the different contact points with the organization. Feedback collection is an ongoing process that involves everyone at every time. Sometimes the customers’ remarks may not be of any value to one person or department but if we were to put all these remarks together we would begin to see patterns.

Feedback collection is an ongoing process that involves everyone at every time.

Mbinkar Kpunsa Fomunyuy

Every feedback given by the customer needs to be recorded and shared with a central organ in charge of reviewing it. The work does not however end here, it is important to summarize these opinions and see how they can serve in improving the overall customer experience or the ability of the products to meet customer needs or specifications.  

A good starting point in strategic feedback management would be to answer the following questions:

  • What do our customers think about us?
  • How can we make the service better?
  • Do we use feedback collected to improve processes and systems?
  • What can we do better?

What do our customers think about us?

There are so many ways to know what customers think about us. To begin with, feedback can be collected in 3 ways. There is direct feedback, which is asking the customers directly what they think about the services. There is indirect feedback which is learning what customers think about you through other intermediaries and lastly, there is inferred feedback that involves analyzing the customer’s words, comments, and statements and determining their emotional state and feelings about us.

From simple methods such as handing customers a feedback form, to verbal questions on how they feel about the service or following their comments on our forums or social media, every organization needs to figure out the best method of collecting feedback from their customers can be. This method would depend on the type of services offered and the manner in which customers come in contact with your organization.

You and your team should be able to sit together and answer this question. How do we know what the customers think about us? Takedown the points raised and adopt your own customer service feedback strategy. Appoint someone who would be in charge of reviewing all feedback collected if such a person does not exist. Have weekly reports on the feedback from customers with emphasis on what has been done in each case. Contact customers to thank them for their feedback, notifying them of corrective actions that you are putting in place when negative feedback is given.

How can you make service better?

The purpose of collecting feedback is not just to know what the customer thinks about us, but for us to use this information to improve processes and tailor the products and services to customers’ needs. To make something better you must first know the state which it is. Begin with internal feedback from internal customers (the employees, the suppliers) then go to the external feedback from users and buyers. Identify what customers feel you are not doing right and develop a strategy for improvement.

Do we use feedback collected (voice of the customer) to improve processes and systems?

When we learn to listen to the voice of the customer we would identify loopholes in our processes and systems. We would see that sometimes the problem is the approach we are using. Sometimes we have great products but the wrong approach. Are our processes and systems designed to improve the experience customers have with us or to satisfy our work organization?

Can we honestly say that the step by step approach we use to serve customers is customer-centric? Do these processes make it tedious for customers to get our products and services? Do our processes make it tedious for customers to react and interact with us? For once, become the customer and walk through the process yourself, feel what they feel, then decide if that is what you want as a customer. Whatever feelings you would have, the customers’ feelings are definitely the worst.

What can we do better?

At the end of the day, it is all about improving. Doing better. Offering a better experience to the customers. I would say here that you cannot get what you do not measure. Set clear objectives on why you need to listen to the voice of the customer. How do you intend to do so. What you would do with the information obtained. Who would be in charge? How often would the team review the feedback collected and make a commitment to reach out to customers as well as take into consideration their voice while considering improvements to be made.

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