The internet has changed a lot of things about business.
It’s changed how businesses send and receive information. It’s changed how they manage orders and track inventory.
It’s made video conferences possible, and enabled us to coordinate work, meetings, and other efforts simultaneously across the globe.
All-in-all, it’s done wonderful things for business.
One of the things it’s made more difficult, however, is the way customer feedback works. In the past, if a customer had a bad review, the worst they could do was print it in the paper.
Word of mouth still spread like a fire, but it was more of a slow burn compared to the raging wildfire it is today.
These days, when someone has a bad experience with a product or service, they can let virtually the whole world know. Depending on who they are, and how they write it, their vitriol can end up plastered all over social media, reaching an audience of millions.
Customer feedback can quickly begin ranking higher than your business in search results, leaving all who search for you online with a bad taste in their mouth.
It’s more important than ever to do something about customer feedback. And not just to do damage control for bad PR. To take the video game industry as an example, the internet has turned customer feedback into crowdsourced beta testing.It’s more important than ever to do something about customer feedback. Click To Tweet
There’s no better way to approximate the rigors and stress of public usage than to hand it off to a host of beta testers. And when that feedback come free of charge, you’re promoting your brand and cutting costs at the same time.
For those who see this shift in business, and accept that companies must adapt if they want to survive, there is a solution. It’s called voice of the customer (VoC), and it helps close the gap between what companies do, and what customers experience.
What is VoC, and Why is It Important?
In today’s media-driven economy, it’s more important than ever for companies to tap into what their customers want, need, and expect, in the form of customer feedback.It’s more important than ever for companies to tap into what their customers want, need, and expect. Click To Tweet
The process of collecting this feedback, and subsequently prioritizing it to determine what customers need most, is called voice of the customer.
VoC is a powerful marketing strategy, and successful companies like Adobe Systems and JetBlue Airways are using it effectively to increase sales and improve customer experience.
VoC leaders enjoy as much as “10-times-greater year-over-year increase in annual company revenue,” and 55% better customer retention. The results are real, and all it takes is learning from customer feedback.
In VoC, customer feedback is collected using a variety of methods—everything from focus groups and individual interviews, to reading Amazon reviews and scouring social media for feedback. That information is aggregated and analyzed to develop a clear picture of customers’ expectations and experiences.
What features do they want? What do they need? What details are hindering or complicating the process? This analysis is then organized hierarchically, prioritizing what’s most valuable to the customer. Then (ideally) it’s given to the development team for implementation.
Implementing VoC is fairly straightforward: it’s all about listening to feedback and then using that feedback to improve. To help you do that, we’ll discuss some of the foundational principles of VoC and how it’s used.
How to Gather Customer Feedback
While a majority of customers say they tend to give more positive, productive feedback instead of negative, companies are reporting that negative feedback frequently outweighs the positive.
This difference of opinion regarding customer feedback highlights a big disconnect between what customers think and what businesses are hearing. Somewhere in the feedback loop, customers aren’t making themselves clear, or brands are simply misinterpreting their feedback.
To better understand what your customers are trying to convey, consider these simple tips:
- Empower customer-facing employees by creating a company culture in which your employees are always looking and listening for ways to improve the customer experience and are empowered to act on these opportunities.
- Hire a third-party customer feedback provider to deploy different strategies of gathering unbiased customer feedback.
- Monitor customer behavior to see what your customers are doing, thinking, and saying. By using web analytic tools, you can spot problems in the shopping experience and make necessary changes to correct these issues.
- Make use of customer feedback tools to gather data on customer behavior and customer feedback. By strategically using these feedback tools throughout your marketing efforts, you can get a well-rounded idea of what customers are actually saying versus what they are actually thinking, feeling, and acting on.
Gathering feedback is the foundation of voice of the customer, so be sure you do it effectively. There are 3rd party resources out there to help you do so, if it seems too large a task, or if you’d rather not devote manpower to it.Gathering feedback is the foundation of voice of the customer. Click To Tweet
Whether you do it yourself or outsource it, however, you need to be sure you’re doing it, or you’ll never be able to fully meet the expectations of your customers.
How to Use Feedback to Improve Conversions
Many customers feel as if they are cut out of the feedback loop after initiating the process, and thus lose faith and trust in the brand. Simply addressing customers with a quick “thank you” after they submit feedback is no longer sufficient.
As a brand, it’s important to ask yourself what your company is doing to address customer concerns or praises. What changes are being made to prevent other customers from receiving the same experience? How can he or she know that this same outcome won’t affect them when doing business with your company again in the future?
Once you’ve aggregated the feedback, analyze it. Negative feedback should always be seen as a potential learning experience, and you can learn a lot from comments that include constructive criticism.Negative feedback should always be seen as a potential learning experience. Click To Tweet
Is there a flaw in your product that the design didn’t account for? Are your employees providing poor customer service? Have your ideal customers developed new needs that a new product or service might be able to satisfy?
Use this feedback as a way of gauging how far you are from the bullseye, then adjust your aim.
As you implement the things you’ve learned from customer feedback, make sure your customers know how you’re putting their experience to good use. Let them know that you’re sharing their comments with your staff. Tell them about your company’s plans to use their feedback to help make your business better.
Implement a reward system for employees who encourage quality customer feedback and better the customer experience. Though small, these sentiments can go a long way with customers.
Additional Advice from the Pros
Despite differing opinions on the tone and tenor of feedback, both customers and companies alike agree that the most important aspect of providing a positive customer experience is to make the interaction personal.
In today’s market, there is no one-size-fits-all solution for customer complaints or problems, and trying to approach each issue in this manner will inevitably lead to failure. While customers feel like a lot of the feedback they provide should help businesses better their personalization efforts, here are a few extra measures to consider when providing a truly unique customer experience:
- Get to know your customers: where are they? What are they doing? How are they accessing your company? Let your customers know you’re doing everything to can to learn about their behavior.
- Use data not only to review past trends but to look forward and identify opportunities and gaps in the market.
- Identify different generational expectations and tailor your content as needed.
- Cater website content to specific site visitors.
Just as the Apollo rockets had to make small adjustments all along the trip to the moon, your business will only reach its full potential if you’re willing to make adjustments along the journey. Customer feedback is an invaluable resource, and it’s easier to collect and analyze than ever before. Now is the time to shoot for the moon, and with the right VoC strategies, you can reach it.
About the Author
Brooke Cade is a freelance writer who is committed to helping businesses and sales professionals build stronger connections with their customers. In her spare time, she enjoys learning more about InMoment.com—her CX platform of choice, reading books/articles on industry news, engaging on twitter, and exploring her local neighborhood coffee shop.