The Voice of the Customer: the key to innovation
MoraBanking | 09.13.2021 | Jessica Reynoso Maciel
Ascertaining the needs and expectations of customers should be one of the main priorities for all modern companies, since it is the best way to adapt our strategies and achieve maximum customer satisfaction. Not only that, but it also helps to create and strengthen bonds with our customers through the creation of two-way communication relationships and co-creation processes.
Knowing what the customer says about the company is increasingly important, and strategies such as ‘Voice of the Customer’ (VoC) have grown in prominence in recent years.
What is the Voice of the Customer?
Voice of the Customer (VoC) is a methodology based on listening to customers in a continuous, systematic and strategic way in order to ascertain what they think about the experiences provided by a company. This will help the company to improve its products and services or adapt them to the needs of their customers.
VoC is based on actively listening to the customer and is recognised as one of the most effective ways of growing a business. The end goal of any modern company is to provide as much value as possible to its customers. This can only be achieved by working with them from a position of empathy. In short, fully understanding their needs in order to detect those which have not been entirely satisfied. This is where the real opportunity to innovate lies: doing it hand-in-hand with the customer.
What are the objectives of the Voice of the Customer programme?
Ascertaining the opinions of customers regarding a company’s products, services or branding can have different objectives. These may vary depending on the company and their priorities. However, in general, they can be grouped in the following ways:
- To innovate, or in other words, to find ideas that truly reflect what the customers need.
- To retain existing customers and attract new ones.
- To regularly and systematically measure commercial initiatives and customer experience, as well as interactions with the company/brand.
- To find effective solutions to customers’ problems, thus maximising the company’s efficiency.
- To prioritise the initiatives and actions that have the greatest impact on customers.
Key concepts of the Voice of the Customer
As a systematic approach that allows you to understand what customers truly think about a company, VoC works by collecting and analysing information in order to later translate it into ideas and actions.
All VoC programmes are based on four basic ideas:
It is not just about your company’s involvement in the initiative, but also making your customer – and all the people who participate in the programme – know that they are part of it too.
If you want to hear the voice of your customers, the first step is getting them to talk to you. This is done by making them understand why their participation and ideas are important to you. To do this, you can run a communication campaign, send them an email explaining the programme or talk to them one-on-one.
By getting as many ideas from as many people as possible, it will be easier for you to identify the best ideas for improving your services. Hence the importance of participation, which should be facilitated as much as possible through the use of tools and settings which the people whose opinion you seek to ascertain use on a daily basis.
Discussing, talking about and debating different concepts and perspectives is very important. However, words won’t bring about any changes on their own. You must collect these comments in a systematic way, organising them into specific and easy-to-identify ideas.
The use of methodologies such as Design Thinking and computer programmes that help to record and organise these ideas is crucial in order for the project to be a success. Categorising ideas and identifying those that are repeated is the first step of any meaningful improvement that can end up adding value.
Listening is only the first step in the VoC process. To convert knowledge, ideas and discussions into tangible commercial results, you need to employ a systematic approach that allows you to work on solutions.
Information can be analysed through different types of reports such as data segmentation, trend analyses, correlation analyses, gap analyses, experience analyses, etc. The main goal is to identify the key ideas or initiatives and then find a way to prioritise them.
Above all, you should never lose sight of the fact that the capture and interpretation of the customer’s voice should be based on data, not on assumptions.
In general, it takes time to turn raw ideas into useful concepts that are ready to be implemented in your company. It is therefore very important to have the proper tools (the software, the methodology and the teams). If you don’t have these it can be a frustrating experience for everyone involved, and you may be left with the false impression that the VoC programme has been a waste of time.
It is therefore important to involve as many people and teams as necessary from the organisation. Knowledge cannot be created in silos or vertically. Rather, it must be done as transversally, flexibly and susceptible to iteration as possible.
This is the main objective of the entire process: to offer value.
Here is a well-known, oft-quoted but totally true anecdote about innovation processes: when Henry Ford asked his customers what they needed, they told him they wanted faster horses, not cars. If this anecdote is so regularly discussed, it’s because it’s proof that it’s not just about collecting information or recording ideas. Rather, it’s about refining these ideas in order to provide customers with the solution to their problems.
You might assume that this is the most complex and expensive part of the whole process, but this isn’t necessarily the case. There are all kinds of solutions, ranging from extremely complex ones to others which can be implemented with a simple adjustment to a small step of the journey or by slightly tweaking a process.
It is important to run trials that allow you to test solutions and their effectiveness with real customers. This can also be a way of letting them know that their feedback is useful to you and that, as a company, you are interested in knowing their thoughts about the solution you offer. The use of agile methodologies in this phase allows for rapid implementation and improvement, thus saving valuable time.
Examples of Voice of the Costumer techniques
While there are no limits to creativity, it is true that some techniques are widely implemented to identify the voice of the customer, for example:
- In-depth interviews.
- Focus groups.
- Live chats.
- Analysis of call recording.
- Behaviour on the website and other platforms through which customers interact with your company.
- NPS (Net Promoter Score).
- Analysis of text in e-mails, forms and other communication mechanisms.
- Analysis of complaints.
- Analysis of social media platforms.
- Online reviews left by customers.
The customer must always be at the centre
This is i-n-a-r-g-u-a-b-l-e. Any type of information obtained must be handled with empathy, considering and interpreting it from the customer’s point of view; otherwise, you will not be offering solutions to their problems. Rather, you would be seeing things from the company’s perspective.
The ultimate goal of a VoC programme is to obtain information directly from the customer, allowing you to better understand the preferences, problems and complaints of your consumers. But as we’ve already said, obtaining information is just the tip of the iceberg: the important thing is knowing what to do with it.
The implementation of this information and the ideas that derive from it is what really counts for making improvements, without losing sight of the fact that great things are always achieved together.
Would you like to know more about what MoraBanc is doing to innovate with our customers? We recommend reading our article about omnichannel banking and customer experience.
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