Role of Voice of Customer in your Business Plans: A guide on its importance and implementation

By Delna Avari

Empowered by social media,having an opinionhas never been easier for modern consumers. Not only do they find themselves able to voice their perspective on a particular product effortlessly, regardless of their socio-economic background, demographics, or location, but also be in a position to influence and be influenced by fellow consumers. As consumers become increasingly in-tune with the implications of their buying habits on their identity and the world at large, connecting with them and understanding their take on your brand has become vital for any business.

We shall cover the following in this guide:

  1. Definition of Voice of Customer (VoC)
  2. Importance of VoC
  3. Methods for measuring VoC
  4. Metrics for measuring VoC
  5. Tips on capturingthe right VoC

Section 1: Definition of VoC (Voice of Customer)

VoC (Voice of Customer) in simple termsrefers to the opinions, experiences, expectations,  preferences, desires, and comments of the customer regarding your product/service.

According to Hubspot:

“Voice of the Customer (VoC) is a research method that's used to collect customer feedback. A  VoC program can help you capture how your customers feel about your business, product, or service, giving  you insights that can help you create a stronger customer experience.”

Section 2: Importance of VoC

Your VoC can be that one factor that changes the course of your business drastically. For better OR even for worse!

According to Philip Kotler, “The best advertising is done by satisfied customers”.

Perhaps this has never been truer than in the age of social media.

Section 2.1: Reasons why VoC is crucial:

1. Loyalty and Retention: Showing your customers that you care about their needs by hearing them out leads to better loyalty to the brand. They are likely to continue supporting you and remain, loyal customers, 

2. Land & Expand: Knowing your VoC can help craft the most satisfactory offering for a customer, improving the odds of the first sale. Further tracking and acting upon VoC can enable you to pitch an additional suite of products/services to cater to a wider set of needs with the same customer. Being in tune with how your customer feels can help you expand your current beachhead and boost revenue from a particular client.

3. Product-Market fit for new and old products: When in doubt about the demand for a certain product in the market, who better to answer you than your existing or prospective customers! They can give a deep understanding of the market demand for both new and existing products 

4. Make customers your marketing channel!: Customers with high brand advocacy are likely to refer you to their friends and family. This is an impactful way to amplify your Word of Mouthchannel

5. Operational Excellence: Inputs from your customers/stakeholders can help you identify real bottlenecks and issues that hinder your operations. In fact, it can help you improve them.

For e.g: If your customers need help with your product,you might need to set up a dedicated resource to act as customer service.

Or if you are receiving a lot of orders from a specificarea, you might need to improve your supply logistics for servicing them better.

Section 2.2: Expected outcomes of VoC 

Measuring the right things in the right context can answer a lot of questions such as:

  • What is our customer’s experience with our product/service?
  • What is the ideal pricingfor our product/service?
  • How can I make our customers buy more frequently or engage with us longer?
  • How can I increase the spending budgetof our customers?
  • What kind of new productsshould we introduceto the market?
  • What should we improve in our product/service?
  • Are my sales targetsrealistic to achieve?

Translating Voice of Customer into Requirements


Section 3: Methods for measuring VoC

1. Surveys: These help customers feel like their opinions matter and give them a place to voice their opinions openly. However, the effectiveness of surveys at capturing VOC depends on how they have been designed, whetherthey have reachedthe right audience, whether they are open/close-ended, how well thequestions have beenthought out, etc.In case of close-ended multiple-choice surveys, care must be taken to ensure that the different options are logical and Mutually Exclusive, Collectively Exhaustive (MECE)

2. Interviews: Interviews create a more open-ended discussion where company representatives can directly channel the conversation to capture maximum insights. Customers should be put at ease and incentivized with rewards in exchange for their time and insight

3. Focus Groups: Similar to interviews, these are generally conducted with groups of individuals encompassing different customer segments. Discussions with them are channelized to capture maximum feedback, generally in-person

4. Feedback forms: These are given to consumers, post a purchase/interaction with the company to allow them to share feedback right after an interaction. Forms should be kept short and to the point

5. Reviews: These are enabled on websites/platforms on which the company sells and lets customers voice their opinions publicly. Reviews are usually visible to the general public, so they can be extremely impactful in shaping the perception of your brand. They must be routinely tracked and acted upon

6. Suggestions: These are generally given voluntarily by some customers or when asked for by the company, but tend to be more informal and open-ended. Askingregular customers for suggestions would make the most sense since they are very aware of your brand and its potential pain-points

7. Product testing/trial: Trials let consumers sample/use a product for a short period of time. They are highly effective because they let the consumer give insights after actually consuming/getting a tangible feel of the product

8. Social Media: Perhaps the most critical source of VoC, social media should be tracked regularly across various platforms for complaints, grievances, demands, and questions. Responsive brands generally enjoy much better brand perception and can use social media as a hunting ground for emerging trends and new product ideas

9. Website Behaviour: Using technology, customers can be tracked on websites to see where they spend most of their time, how long they browse before buying, whether there are any patterns in their behavior and how modifying website interfaces can enhance their experience and purchase values

10. Purchase history: Past purchases can give deep insights into the lifestyle of a consumer and companies can use it to capture a “hidden” VoC - potential purchase decisions yet to be made. Predictive analytics can be harnessed to make suggestions based on past purchases to ensure a higher probability of a sale

11. Emails: Target customers can be reached out via email for various insights on previous purchases in the form of feedback forms, surveys, and direct interactions

12. Word Cloud: Captures keywords that define your brand as per multiple consumers. These can be handy in showcasing what your brand really stands for according to your consumers and whether this is any different from what you thought it did/intended it to

Section 4: Metrics to measure VoC

1. NPS (Net Promoter Score): It is the percentage of promoters minus the percentage of detractors. The score can be in the range of -100 to +100. Good organizations ideally aim to get an NPS better than 50

2. Sentiment analysis: It is the analysis of the language and words your customers use when interacting with you. They usually fall in the buckets of Positive, Neutral or Negative

3. Brand Advocacy / CLI (Customer Loyalty Index): It is what the customers talk about your brand when referring it to others.High Brand advocacy leads to more positive responses. CLI is the measurement of their loyalty and advocacy

4. CES (Customer Effort Score): This is to measure the amount of effort a customer has to put in to do business with you. The lower the score, the lesser effort for them which leads to a better customer experience

5. CSAT (Customer Satisfaction Score): This measures how satisfied the customer is with your product/service. Often a metric scale (for eg, a 1-5 scale) is used to quantify satisfaction levels

6. CLV (Customer lifetime value): Itis the expected value that a customer will spend on your brand. The calculation is done by looking at the average spending amount multiplied by the buying frequency. Your aim is to take this number higher for your brand

7. Repurchase ratio: CLI will also capture this information for you. It indicates whether your customer is likely to buy your product again or not

8. WYMU (Will you miss us?): A question for the customers regarding whether they would miss the brand if it no longer existed. Helps to learn more about their CLI and CSAT




Source: QuestionPro

Section 4.1: Other things to measure for VoC

1. Feedback on:

  • Customer Service
  • Quality of product/service
  1. Reason for purchase
  2. Competitors and what customers like/dislike about them
  3. Spending budget
  4. Expectations after purchase
  5. How did they hear about you
  6. How can the product/service be improved

Section 5: Tips on capturing the right VoC 

  • Define a goal/purpose for the VoC. You can start with an assumption statement that you are looking to prove or disprove after VoC
  • Seek a convenient time for gathering feedback. Meet/interact where your target customers are comfortable
  • Do not ask for feedback only from those customers that love your product or are loyal to your brand. There will be bias in their responses
  • Capture VoC not only from the people purchasing your product/service but also from the stakeholders that interact with your brand. These include dealers, vendors, retailers, channel partners, etc.
  • Personalize your questions - Individual customers should feel valued. Ask about their challenges, what they think about the market, what is their perception of the brand, etc.
  • This is not a sales call, do not try to push your product for sale
  • Be open to listening and talking about what the competition does better. Do not interject, but at the same time, do not digress
  • The same goes for feedback regarding your product - do not get into unnecessary justifications
  • Decide your flow, but keep a check on time
  • If possible, send your questions/agenda in advance
  • Use simple language and avoid technical jargon
  • Do not get fixated on a single topic; try to cover all relevant aspects
  • Use your customer interactions as a means of testing responses, needs, and opinions for a new product that you may be planning to launch
  • Try to note down what factors influencetheir purchase decision
  • Thank them for their time. If their suggestions and feedback are implemented, convey them to your customers
  • Use multiple methods for gathering information
  • Measure feedback across locations - Insights and pain points may vary between locations