The Voice of the Customer: More Than Just a PowerPoint Slide

If I ask you, “How do your customers feel about your brand?” would you be able to answer quickly and with confidence? Probably not.

Why this matters:

The internet moves wicked fast. Billions of videos, conversations, texts, comments, forum threads, and social mentions happen every minute. And many times, your brand is at the center of these conversations. But do you know where they are happening or what they are saying? Do you fully comprehend the voice of customer?

If you don’t, keep reading. If you do, keep reading anyway.

What is Voice of the Customer (VoC)?

The voice of the customer (VoC) is the collective narrative of how your customers feel about your brand. It’s what they say publicly about your product, service, executives, employees, and everything you do in the market. It’s the emotions they feel when they pass by your product in the mall or while scrolling through their newsfeeds.

Gartner defines it more as a methodology for capturing, storing, and analyzing customer data. The voice of the customer isn’t just about gathering data, though. It’s also about understanding how customers perceive your brand and why they think the way they do. More importantly, it’s how you use customer data to make better marketing decisions or fix something that might be broken.

If that isn’t enough to convince you, data from the Aberdeen Group show that the top 20% of brands who use the voice of the customer data had 9.8x more revenue YoY than those that don’t.

Data from the Aberdeen Group show that the top 20% of brands who use the voice of the customer data had 9.8x more revenue YoY than those that don't.

Data is the Fuel for Voice of Customer Programs

There are literally hundreds of ways to collect voice of customer data. There are “old school” ways to do this using surveys and website feedback. If you’ve been using the internet for more than a month, I am sure you’ve experienced pop-ups saying, “Tell us what you think.” If you’re anything like me, you probably roll your eyes in exasperation and close the window.

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg regarding VoC programs. There are dozens of voice of the customer tools, platforms, and software solutions available today that can help you collect and analyze customer data from social media, forums, chat rooms, review sites, and other customer touchpoints. In addition, you can use these tools to create customer archetypes to share with internal teams and partners.

On the surface, customer data collected from these sources might provide high-level insights into your customer’s emotions. But the data can be more impactful once analyzed using speech, text, and web analytics.

These tools can identify patterns in customers’ language to uncover the perceived narratives that they have about your brand. It also helps you understand why customers might be dissatisfied with a product or service, which can lead to better digital customer experiences and improved customer relationships.

Speech Analysis: Speech analytics uses AI and ML algorithms to analyze voice recordings or live customer phone calls to call centers. The software identifies the sentiment of the words used and analyzes audio patterns to detect emotions and stress in the customer’s tone of voice.

Text Analysis: Text analytics uses AI/ML and statistical and linguistic models to process large volumes of unstructured text. This could be call center transcripts, social media mentions, customer reviews, forum posts, or open-ended survey answers. Text analytics can uncover sentiment analysis, narrative modeling, named entity recognition, keyword frequency, and event extraction.

Web Analysis: Web analytics collects, reports, and analyzes website data. The analysis can give you detailed information about how your customers find your website, what pages they visit, how long they stay on a page, and what actions they take. In addition, advanced web analytics can track sales, conversion rates, and customer lifetime value.

These voice of the customer tools can also help you identify perceived narratives, the underlying stories that shape your customer’s view of your brand. Perceived narratives may not always be accurate, but they’re valuable because they give insight into how customers feel about you.

The next step is 100% on you. Are you taking action with this customer data?

I don’t want to minimize the work if you’ve identified the customer data sources and finished your analysis, but here’s where the real work starts. Of course, it’s easier said than done, but the goal of your voice of the customer programs should be examing your customer experience strategy and changing it if it’s not hitting the mark with your customers.

What are the goals for Voice of the Customer Programs?

I can go on for days listing out all the goals of what a voice of the customer program should be, but it boils down to one thing: brand love. Love connects people from different cultures, languages, religions, world views, and even political parties. When your brand is the center of these connections, you will win.

If you truly love your customers, they will love you back … and tell others.

This sounds great. I get goosebumps when I say it, but it isn’t very actionable. So let’s dissect brand love into four goals we can rally behind–selling more products, acquiring new customers, building brand reputation, and increasing brand loyalty.

Sell more products. Use the insights from customer data to design better products and experiences and create new products that customers already want. Love is about giving without any expectation of getting anything in return. When you listen to your customers and give them what they want, they will buy more.

Acquire new customers. Use data to identify what’s top of mind for your potential customers, what keeps them up at night, and their unmet needs. Align your campaigns with messaging about how you can help them. Love is about creating meaningful connections, and new customers want to connect with brands that understand them.

Build brand reputation. Use customer feedback to identify the areas where your company should improve and make it happen! If you make a mistake, own it and move on. When customers notice that you are making changes based on their feedback, they will trust you and tell others about it.

Increase brand loyalty. Loyal customers will always buy from you. They will follow you on social media, subscribe to your newsletters, share new product releases, and tell the world how much they love your products. Please don’t ignore these customers; they are your most valuable asset.

These are just some of the goals of a voice of the customer program. When you think about it, these goals all boil down to one thing—building relationships with your customers. That’s what love is all about! It isn’t easy, but when you invest in understanding your customers’ needs and design experiences that delight them, you will be rewarded with brand love from your most loyal supporters.

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Michael Brito

Michael Brito is a Digital OG. He’s been building brands online since Al Gore invented the Internet. You can connect with him on LinkedIn or Twitter.