Voice of customer: Understanding problem areas, finding solutions
Customers give companies feedback through many different channels and in a variety of forms — sometimes directly, sometimes indirectly. This is valuable information. However, it often isn’t analyzed, even though companies should pay close attention to what their customers say. The “Voice of Customer” (VoC) approach can help to optimize products and services and lower the costs of customer support.
The importance of satisfied customers is emphasized all the time. But what are things like in reality? A survey conducted by Gartner in 2017 found that approximately 80 percent of the participating CEOs believed their customers were very satisfied. However, only 8 percent of the surveyed customers agreed.
Where does this discrepancy come from? Do managers define “customer satisfaction” differently than customers do? Or don’t they listen enough to what customers tell them — often implicitly? In either case, the Voice of Customer (VoC) method can help them understand what customers want. The method is one of the tools used by the Six Sigma process, for example, a system for process optimization and quality management.
The various types of the Voice of Customer
Three types of VoC are distinguished:
- The direct voice of the customer (direct VoC): Here, customers convey their opinion to the company directly, through a survey, a conversation with the hotline, a chat with a customer support specialist, or through a social media channel, for example. The direct VoC can be obtained at any touchpoints where the customer thinks the company is listening.
- The indirect voice of the customer (indirect VoC): Customers talk about the company, but they don’t necessarily intend to give it direct feedback. The indirect VoC can be obtained via social media or product evaluations, for example.
- The inferred voice of the customer (inferred VoC): This is inferred from data on transactions, behavior, and business activity. It is the most difficult type of VoC to record. Examples of this type include a website’s clickstream data or a customer’s purchase history. With the help of modern analytics methods, the inferred VoC can be recorded and used for the optimization of customer communications and specific offers.
The key feature of VoC is that the method not only analyzes the topics that customers are talking about, but also identifies the underlying causes. Let’s suppose that a customer calls the service center with a question about an invoice. Maybe the topic of an “invoice” wouldn’t have come up in the first place if the individual items on the invoice had been presented in a way that was easier to understand. So the cause is an invoice that doesn’t have the best possible design and layout.
Listening to and understanding customers
How can companies make the best use of these customer voices? The first thing to do would be to evaluate the volume and quality of each type of VoC and identify the one that promises to be most useful to the company. That type is a good starting point for a VoC project. If possible, of course, all three types of customer voice should be taken into account to obtain a truly comprehensive view of customer needs and opinions.
Whether the company is considering the direct, indirect, or inferred VoC, the corresponding data must be recorded and analyzed in order for companies to understand the voice of customers. The problem areas are then identified and resolved. That could happen through process optimizations, improvements or additions to services, or even changes in products — because the Voice of Customer method provides valuable insights for product development, as well.
As a partner, Arvato CRM Solutions supports and accompanies the collection and utilization of the VoC, as well as the following optimization process from A to Z. As a result, the customer journey is considerably improved, customer satisfaction increases, and service costs are reduced.
Author: Editorial team Future. Customer.
Image: © Sikov – AdobeStock