You can hear chatter in the background, but you can't quite make out what's being said. Listen closely- it's the voice of the customer, and if you want to be able to hear it, you need the right set of tools. According to Gartner, "voice of the customer (VoC) solutions combine multiple… technologies such as social media monitoring, enterprise feedback, speech analytics, text mining and web analytics… to provide a holistic view of a customer's voice…" Once you analyze the sentiment of the customer voice, you can use the data to make improvements to your product or service.
The voice of the customer is varied and can include:
Direct feedback: compliments or complaints intentionally directed at the company, e.g. a survey or feedback form
Indirect feedback: compliments or complaints meant for a company but not necessarily directed at them, e.g. customer reviews on GetApp
Inferred feedback: based on how customers interact with your product or service, e.g. heatmaps
Hearing the voice of the customer involves using multiple sets of tools and combining them into one solution to analyze sentiment as a whole. If you're a small business, however, you likely won't be able to afford a dedicated VoC solution like those offered by Verint or Nice. The good news is that you might already be using tools that amplify the voice of the customer, which gauge customer sentiment and can be used to help you turn what your customers really want, into a reality.
Below are some tools that you can use to hear the voice of the customer loud and clear so that you can use this valuable information to your advantage.
If you imagine the voice of the customer to be an actual voice, direct feedback would be like the words that are being spoken to you. It's the most straightforward way to hear your customers' thoughts. Direct feedback includes surveys, complaint forms, and helpdesk software.
Surveys and feedback forms
Asking customers directly for feedback will give you answers to the burning questions that you have about your customer's perception of your product or service. Is the product useful? What was your experience with the service? What would you improve? Survey software like Typeform is a great option to help ask these questions. Aiming to provide a more personalized experience to the normally dull feedback process, Typeform eliminates some of the structure normally associated with surveys, with the goal of getting a higher completion rate and - as a result- better feedback.
As one user pointed out on Twitter,
Tested @typeform, then used for real-time audience feedback during event for 1500 last wk. Engagement off-the-charts; analytics flawless.
- Jason Allen Ashlock (@jasonashlock) October 5, 2015
Analytics are especially important here to be able to get an overall view of customer perception, and are an integral part of hearing the voice of the customer. Qualtrics is another good alternative, offering its very own VoC solution ripe with surveys, text analysis, and dashboards to get broader overall insight into your customers' opinions.
Customer support software
Your helpdesk software might also be equipped with solutions to gather feedback. A customer service solution like Helprace offers a community section where customers have designated areas to give crowd-sourced feedback including asking questions, reporting problems, suggesting ideas, and giving praise. Having this type of information sorted by type makes it that much easier to organize and act on.
Lisa Chu, a small business owner, says, "the voice of our customers was the most essential part to our success. We always showed appreciation when our customers voiced their opinion about our products or service, because they have the answers to complex questions dealing with the way we do business. Utilizing their opinion provided me with detailed insights to greatly enhance our products and customer service, creating an environment where our customers feel the human side of our business."
Whereas direct feedback is about the words that are being said, indirect feedback can be compared to a customer's tone of voice and how loudly they're speaking.
Indirect feedback may or may not be sent straight to the customer service department. Either way, you can guarantee that it's still meant to be heard by your team. Indirect feedback can be heard anywhere from review sites like GetApp, to social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, as well as in your customer service solutions, which is a good place to start analysis.
Once you've handled enough customer service or sales calls, you'll start to see patterns emerging of the most common questions, comments, or problems. It's important to organize them to be able to recognize trends, but it'not just about organization- it's also about analysis.
By tracking and collating what your customers are saying when they contact you, you can see the most common issues they're facing, the features they're requesting, and what they like most. Depending on the type of customer service you're offering (phone, chat, or email), you can analyze these interactions to see what comes up most often in conversation.
Speech and text analytics would fall into this category of voice of the customer solutions. TalkIQ is one example, which offers speech analytics of recorded phone calls to help gauge customer sentiment about a product or service, and it even integrates with Salesforce.
Social media monitoring
Aside from analyzing what your customers are saying to your company, you can also get indirect feedback based on what people are saying about your company. This is where social media monitoring tools like Brand24 and Brandwatch come into play.
A great place to get inferred feedback is through social media, where people frequently voice their concerns or praise for a product or service they've just had contact with. Brand24, for example, works by scanning the realm of social media for mentions, and then presenting that data in a way that makes it easier to spot what's been said and by whom so that you can act on that.
According to digital behavioural scientist Dr. Jillian Ney, "analysing voice of the customer can bring a new level of empathy into organisations. While many large organisations are still paying lip service to customer centricity and even social customer care, when operationalised properly 'voice of the customer' can highlight new opportunities by understanding unmet customer needs and identifying gaps in the market."
She demonstrates this in a case study of the top 10 Scottish whiskey brands, using Brandwatch to monitor their online perceptions. She discovered interesting insights about brand buzz, purchase intent, and brand advocacy, showing that the brand Laphroaig had the best engagement in all three metrics on social media, while also demonstrating where other brands could afford to do some work. Check out the infographic here.
Think of inferred feedback as body language when it comes to the voice of the customer. It calls for more interpretation, and is a bit more difficult to listen to without some powerful tools. Inferred feedback is what you get from the not-so-obvious ways that people are interacting with your product or service. This includes things like search intent, heatmaps, and clickstream data.
SEO and Analytics
In the world of everything SEO, search intent is becoming increasingly important for businesses hoping to give customers exactly what they're looking for. Starting with Google Analytics can help show what users were looking for when they landed on your site, while tools like Moz and SEMRush can help you identify target keywords that can help point customers in your company's direction.
Katie Birkbeck, senior content marketing specialist at Blue Corona, says, "If you want your small business to succeed in today's digital realm, it's important to move away from what you want to say and transition into what the searchers want to hear. By integrating the voice of your customers within your website's content, you are demonstrating that you understand their needs and are increasing your chances of ranking for their queries… Insights from search data helps business owners connect with their audience and provide what they are looking for when they are looking for it…"
Similarly, heatmaps and clickstreams are another way to get insight into your customers without having to ask them for it. A tool like Crazy Egg can show you where users have come from, what they click on the most, and how far they've scrolled down the page. Once you have this information, you can optimize your site based on how people are (or aren't) using it.
Customers are already talking- all you need to do is listen. Whether it's directly to you, via social media, or simply based on how they interact with your site, your customers probably have a lot more insight than you realize when it comes to your product or service.
While you may not be an enterprise organization with the means for an all-in-one voice of the customer solution, you can make use of the tools you might already be using to hear what your customers think, and in return, give them what they want.
What are your favorite tools for listening to the voice of the customer? Let us know in the comments below.