Have you ever stopped and listened, but didn’t hear anything? Probably unlikely. At the minimum, even if no one is physically speaking, we can hear the little things… our own heartbeat, the sigh of a coworker, the hum of a motor. We hear all day long but, are we really listening to the people around us? Our families, friends and most certainly, our customers – the people who purchase and learn from us – they all need our concentration and action.
What is Voice of Customer?
Voice of Customer (VOC) is a process used to capture the ideas, needs and complaints of internal and external customers in order to provide the best in class service. The process is about being proactive and constantly innovative to capture the changing requirements of the customer through a variety of ways: direct discussion on boards, surveys completed after training or product usage, focus groups, field reports, complaint logs and on social media.
Why is VOC Important?
How you sound as a business has a huge impact on how your customers will react. And it applies to every department, from Marketing and Accounting to Education and Human Resources. Maintaining consistency in VOC and understanding how to transform it by social listening are essential for business success. Customers need to hear the same tone from everyone – whether they are on your website, blog, boards, in the classroom or hearing from your client services department. The truly great organizations know how to differentiate themselves through enriching their customer experiences by dissecting VOC. Listening builds trust. It enables collaboration. It reduces conflict. It leads to acquiring the facts so you can make decisions to benefit your organization. Simply put, listening versus just hearing, is imperative to your organization’s success and understanding VOC is the first step in the process.
In the past, companies have listened to the voice of their customers through surveys, comment cards, phone calls, snail mail and email with the intent of quickly addressing issues. With the advancement in technology, there are now many tools and tricks of the trade to systematically capture, manage and act on feedback all along the customer lifecycle.
“We’re entering an era of real-time marketing,” says Reggie Bradford, Oracle Senior VP of Product Development as quoted in Forbes. “If you’re not engaged in that conversation, you’re going to miss out.” Engaging helps to nurture the interaction between the learner and the brand over the course of the learner’s entire life cycle.
Top 5 VOC Best Practices
- Listening vs. hearing: Simply capturing what your customers’ say, when they say it isn’t listening. Listening involves concentration, purpose and intent and is an art that leads to learning and doing. You give your customers’ opinions, advice and questions and turn them into meaning by listening. Listening, rather than hearing, can also help embed customer feedback into your company culture. When the attitudes, behaviors, beliefs and values concerning the importance of customer feedback become a socially accepted standard inside the organization, then it has been engrained in the company’s culture so your employees can act on the feedback appropriately. Understanding what your training customers desire, enjoy, need assistance with and possibly groan about is important in keeping your training up-to-date and relevant to those who utilize it.
- The mobile voice: Mobile provides an opportunity to engage learners who utilize your training using in-the-moment, unobtrusive methods that puts them at the driving wheel and, simultaneously, delivers insight back to your enterprise. Engaging customers when they are available and want to is the key here.
- Text analytics are a must have: Finding the customer voice needle in an unstructured data haystack won’t help much if you don’t know 1) how to look for it and 2) what to do with it. Text analytics, as described in Alta Plana Corporations 2014 report, as applied to social, online and enterprise data, aims to extract useful information and create usable insights for business wherever big/fast text is found. There are many text analytic programs available that can assist you. Technology and solution providers run the gamut in size from small start-ups to the largest global information technology brands, such as Salesforce’s Radian6 and Oracle’s Endeca, which are on the list of the top 30 text analysis solution providers as noted by Predictive Analytics Today.
- Integrate with your business systems: Combining your VOC program with your financial and operational data systems enables you to make sound business decisions. Make sure to present your insights to everyone who needs to access your CRM system, all day, every day. That data needs to live there to ensure that the data drives action. By catering to your employees’ requirements for this rich, insightful data, you can make it easy for them to act on the voice of the customer.
Listening to and understanding the VOC is crucial to restoring trust and building upon customer loyalty, engagement and advocacy. Now is the time to put a formal VOC program in place or improve upon your company’s existing one. In the end, it will be those enterprises that truly listen to their customers that will win their business and set themselves apart from the competition.
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