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6 ways to successfully capture the Voice of the Customer

by Adam Froman.

Capturing the Voice of the Customer (VoC) and turning it into actionable insights is one of the greatest opportunities as digital technologies become more important in people’s lives. VoC programs bring together three simultaneous trends: the digital customer experience, big data and near real-time data analytics. What makes this point in time different than any other is the fact that the adoption of digital and social technologies has reached critical mass.  Now that the digital age is upon us, we are entering the age of intelligence.

However, as we see the attention being brought to VoC programs, there is still a lot of confusion and trepidation by both marketers and researchers to embrace their full potential. As companies are trying to better listen to their customers, many organizations are getting more caught up in the methods available to listen, rather than the listening itself.

When embarking on a VoC program, there are 6 ways to successfully engage and capture relevant and actionable feedback from your customers.

1. Remain consumer centric

Creating a VoC program is about capturing the voice of the CUSTOMER!  So create an experience that enables your customers to share their opinions in a manner that is relevant to them and in a way that fits with how they perceive your organization. Since the feedback starts with your customers, they are participants, not respondents. So consider this another opportunity to touch your customers and create a customer experience for them.

2. Don’t let technology drive your solution

There are more than enough technologies available to assist with implementing a VoC program in an organization. This has created anxiety and confusion in the marketplace, since many technology providers feel that they have the silver bullet to create a VoC solution.  All of these technologies are useful, but no one technology will fit every situation.  Many emerging technologies can now seamlessly integrate with others, which allows you to focus on the best solution for your organization.  Also, many technologies are cloud-based and can be implemented at a fraction of the cost from enterprise solutions, allowing organizations to easily change their technologies if they don’t deliver.

3. Be authentic

There has to be a division between feedback and marketing.  There is nothing wrong with appending a customer’s feedback to their profile, but make sure you are communicating with them.  Letting consumers know how you are using their information is the first step.  Consumers are much more appreciative when they know how their feedback is going to either help the organization make better decisions. Being authentic with your consumers will not scare them away. It will encourage them to share more authentic feedback with your organization.

4. Use incentives to solicit feedback

There is nothing wrong with providing incentives to solicit feedback from your customers.  Feedback can come in many forms; it could be the use of an existing loyalty program, coupons to use your product, or even simply sharing the feedback from your customers with those that participate.  At the end of the day, you are using VoC to create better experiences and relationships with your customers, so why not ensure that you are tying it to your brand.

5. Engage your customers in a conversation

Marketers and researchers need to accept that in this digital age, the consumer controls the conversation.  If consumers don’t feel empowered, or that their feedback will have an impact, they simply won’t participate. A successful VoC program not only solicits feedback from consumers, it also monitors what is being said within social media, and involves proactively responding to consumers that air their concerns publicly.

6. Create a customer panel

Capturing the voice of the customer is not simply about online surveys or social media monitoring.  The power of digital technology today means you can create innovative and engaging experiences for your customers using these digital and social technologies, which also capture valuable data.  But this data is not as useful when you can’t attach information to a customer profile.  It’s simply feedback without context. By inviting customers to be part of a customer feedback panel, you can then  append feedback to the profiles of your customers, giving you much richer and more relevant data to analyze.  But if you do this, ensure that you have clear privacy policies in place and be authentic with those that join, so that you achieve your VoC objectives.

Understanding the VoC experience that you want to create for your customers, and understanding the data you need, is essential in order to achieve your VoC objectives.