02 October 2014 – Andrew Burns
American author Ernest Hemingway once said, “When people talk, listen completely. Most people never listen.” It is good, practical advice that applies to all facets of life, including the voice of the customer. It provides the secret key to gaining a competitive advantage. You need to learn how to listen and understand the voice of the customer in order to meet their expectations.
Listen up, listen up
In the business sector, voice of the customer is a term used to describe the in-depth method of capturing an individual’s expectations, preferences and dislikes. In layman’s terms, it is about critically listening to what people think of your business and its processes.
There are various ways of capturing the voice of the customer, such as through the use of discussion groups, interviews, complaint logs and surveys. Once the feedback is gathered, a list of needs is organised and prioritised. During this process, the analysis needs to be assessed alongside the company’s technical ability to meet the requirements. While voice of the customer presents you with an opportunity to act, it is crucial that businesses remain proactive and innovative in adapting to the changing requirements of your clients over time.
The growth of the voice of the customer market
Voice of the customer isn’t a new concept, but it is beginning to gain traction in the business world. Gartner is forecasting that voice of the customer programs are set to become one of the most significant strategic investments over the next five years for businesses. Moreover, the market is set for an annual growth rate of over 30%, solidifying voice of the customer as a powerful tool to improve customer experience.
“Voice of the customer is now being viewed as a must-have strategy. From a corporate perspective, the focus on understanding [people] by listening to them and using that understanding to market differently, sell differently, support differently, redesign processes and change the product, is becoming more and more important. It is a key part of CEM and a lot of companies are now realising they can’t really differentiate by traditional means, but really understanding the [individual] can help them to do that,” says Jim Davies, research director at Gartner.
Listen and act
Analyst firm Forrester Research believes that voice of the customer solutions are vital to improving customer experience, as they both feed customer experience measurement and uncover the insights necessary to deliver better experiences. However, the solutions need to be structured and followed-through to be effective. In other words, avoid the “all listen and no action” approach – something that Smoke CCS believes is non-negotiable in any customer care solution strategy.
Many organisations wonder what the secret is to keeping individuals happy, when it’s quite simple: listen to the voice of the customer and act on the input to maintain continuous improvement. If businesses do so, they won’t only be improving their processes, but they’ll gain clients for life.
If you’d like to speak to us about voice of the customer solutions that best suits your organisation, please contact us for further information.