We all want to be leaders of our industry.

Thing is, you can have the best product or service in the universe, but if customers have a bad time interacting with your brand, then you’re staying firmly planted in the dust.
It makes sense then that the single-most important factor that determines competitive advantage nowadays is increasingly—you guessed it!—customer experience.[1]
Thing is, nobody—nobody— becomes a leader of their industry without listening to consumers.

That’s where Voice of the Customer (VoC) comes in. Voice of Customer is getting to understand the wants and needs of customers in their own words.

The parameters are up to you: whether you’re measuring their expectations, their needs, what they’d like you to improve—the list goes on and on. And the insights, when kept in context and acted on appropriately, can increase your bottom line tremendously.
But if administered wrong, your attempts at garnering VOC data can repel people from your brand. Ouch.
Overly long surveys or those that are boring or administered at the wrong time in the customer journey can have potentially loyal customers rolling their eyes and moving on.
So while in the end you’re simply listening to the voice of the customer—that’s easy— you first have to convince them to answer the questions you want them to answer—that’s not so easy.
Down-in-the-dumps VoC survey response rates can be discouraging. Thankfully, some easy changes in how you approach surveys can, if made early on, boost the quantity and quality of information you glean from the ever-precious customer into the stratosphere!

  1. Make sure your VoC survey targets a core customer voice. That means either using several different surveys depending on the customer persona you’re targeting or, in the case of interactive media, making sure the different branches of your video appeals to the right audience.
  2. Shorten your survey questions. Keep the goal of your survey in mind when creating your questions.
  3. Tell those taking the survey what the purpose of the research is and how their feedback will be used. People love having their voices heard—but they hate it when you then turn around and ignore them!
  4. Make your survey amazingly simple to use and impossible to misunderstand. Consider an interactive whiteboard video to take your customers on a fun-filled journey that’s proven to increase engagement rates.
  5. Make sure your questions are pointed, not vague—the more specific the question, the more specific the answer and the more actionable the insight.
  6. Ensure everyone can share their voice. For international projects, that might mean using translation services to enhance accessibility.
  7. Finally, after all the cards are dealt and the insights determined, let participants know what changes you made based on their feedback. People love being part of change! But according to Gartner, while 95% of companies surveyed collect customer feedback, nearly none—we’re talking around 5%—actually let people know what was done with that feedback.[2] Big mistake!
Forrester research tells us that “successful VoC programs should support a cycle of four activities that make up a closed-loop process: listen to customer feedback, interpret the resulting data, react to improve the experience, and monitor results.”[3] Make sure you’re ready to commit to the whole closed-loop process before beginning your VoC program.

With the right survey, given at the right time with the right media, your company can connect, engage, and learn from customers at crucial times in their customer journey.

You can see how healthy your brand is doing out in the real world, determine whether you’re gaining or losing ground on the competition, or just figure out whether people want something new from your company.  

You’re not going anywhere good without understanding your customer. And if you can convince people to share their true opinions with you, you can use customer-driven insights to drive your improvement strategies.

Do that, and becoming (or staying) the leader of your industry might just be within your grasp.

[1] Alcatel-Lucent customer experience survey, 2012
[2] Customer Experience Management: Raising Customer Satisfaction, Loyalty and Advocacy – Gartner
[3] https://www.forrester.com/Voice-Of-The-Customer-%28VOC%29

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