As a business owner, you want to better understand customer wants and needs. And while companies once ran new products and services up the flagpole and hoped customers would salute, those days are over. Clients have more avenues to communicate with you than ever before, and they’re telling you what they want.
The voice of the customer is insistent and holds valuable insights. Here’s how your business will benefit from lending an ear.
What Does the Voice of the Customer Offer?
The voice of the customer is here to stay, and it’s louder than ever. Why? Because customers have more ways to communicate with your business. Social media, online reviews, and other digital channels allow them to connect with you, and voice their opinions, in an instant.
Fortunately, these interactions provide precious information for your company. Here are just some of the perks that the voice of the customer offers.
Demand for Products and Services
Chances are your customers are telling you which products are working and which ones aren’t. They may also be telling you which products they’d like you to add. Heeding their opinions on your offerings will better inform your product and service lines.
Consider Nurx, a telemedicine company that helps patients access online birth control and other sexual health products like STI testing kits. When customers began requesting acne and migraine treatments, Nurx took note and began offering them as well. This is a prime example of listening to the voice of the customer and acting on it.
By paying attention to customer feedback on your products, you might realize that you’re missing the mark in certain markets. There could be opportunities to cross-sell or transform your offerings completely. And you would have missed these business avenues if you weren’t listening to your customers.
Do you actually have satisfied customers? At one time, it may have been hard to tell outside of sales numbers. The only way a customer could provide feedback was to call a business or show up in person. This meant that businesses would only hear from particularly disgruntled consumers. But times have changed, and now you can collect genuine feedback from a variety of sources.
Chief among these, of course, is social media. Trek, the high-end cycling equipment company, began in Wisconsin but now markets its bikes and other cycling equipment all over the world. To keep tabs on customer preferences, Trek turned to social media listening to get “direct, honest, unfiltered feedback” from customers in various global markets.
By parsing your customers’ social media feedback, you can spot patterns and see opportunities for change. Complaints will show you where you need to up your game, while the good stuff will tell you which initiatives to continue.
Offline marketing delivers messages to the customer, but the customer can’t talk back. Online marketing has flipped the switch. Customers can comment on social media posts, Instagram stories, and blog posts. So you’ll know what they think.
Remember, the voice of the customer comes through in quantitative data as well. Data like clicks and time on your site show what’s working and what messaging could use some work. As for in-person feedback, you might hear customers commenting on marketing displays and promotions. These insights are worth listening to as well.
Frequently Asked Questions
It’s possible that your business is receiving the same questions over and over. But you could be missing these patterns if you aren’t paying attention. Interacting with customers across all channels will help you compile a list of frequently asked questions.
Essentially, your FAQs are the voice of the customer telling you what information your clients need. When you answer FAQs in a prominent place on your website, you’ll save your staff time. You’ll also be giving customers the intel they need to buy from you.
How Can You Start Listening?
In business as in life, truly listening is always easier said than done. Some companies may attempt to hear their customers, only to have customer insights clouded by their own opinions. However, there are several ways to access the authentic voice of your customer base — and actually do something with it.
Sometimes it’s best to do things the old-fashioned way. If you have a brick-and-mortar business location, take some time to have one-on-one conversations with your clientele. Practice active listening, validate their concerns and ask follow-up questions.
Train your employees to be active listeners as well. Set up a system for employees to funnel feedback to management. This way, you can actually act on customer feedback and provide a better experience.
Social media is one of the first places that customers go to voice comments, questions, and concerns. But taking note of these comments isn’t enough. Heeding the voice of the customer online means reading the feedback and engaging immediately.
Ask the customer to send a direct message and allow them to speak. Keep the interaction personal and show that you care. Keep records of these conversations, so you can spot patterns. Engaging with customers on social, and truly hearing them, will improve customer experience along with your business insights.
Comment boxes, both on and offline, are a simple way to collect customer feedback. However, it’s easy to set and forget them. Make sure to sift through comments regularly to better listen to your customers.
Businesses should also remember that comment boxes don’t need to be one-sided conversations. Use social media and email to tell your customers what you’re hearing and what you’re doing about it. This shows that you’re engaging and are open to more input.
Customers who aren’t comfortable commenting on social media or speaking to you directly might voice their opinions on a survey. When you send out surveys, you can gather quantitative and qualitative data. You might be surprised by how many customers participate.
As with comment boxes, you want to show that you’re listening to survey feedback. Be transparent and share results with your customers. Summarize your findings and plans for the next steps. Customers who feel heard will be more likely to participate in future conversations.
As digital platforms come to dominate the business world, the voice of the customer is easier to hear than ever. What counts is what you do with this information. By listening to your customers and gathering the right information, you can make well-informed business decisions.