Voice of the customer - What consumers are desperate to share
The current crisis is holding a magnifying glass up to businesses. Why are some riding out the storm, while others are drowning? It’s all down to the voice of the customer.
And the brands that understand it. Those that listen, can predict the unexpected, and adapt quickly. Those who don’t listen, get left behind. Here’s how to listen to the voice of the customer for brand success.
Voice of customer examples
In our latest report, we look at some of the actionable insights brands can obtain through voice of the customer. Highlighting insights, and predicting future trends in the CPG industry, to inspire the analysis for your sector and brand. Grab it by clicking the link above.
What is the voice of the customer?
Voice of the customer (VoC) is a market research technique, to give brands a comprehensive understanding of the customer needs and wants. It collects data from a wide variety of sources, combining them into one powerful overview of the customer - identifying intentions, desires, and aversions. Enabling data-driven decision making across your company.
Examples of data you can combine to complete your voice of the customer
But that’s a very dry definition for something that could be company changing. Especially considering it’s potential brand impact in this post-pandemic climate. Let’s break it down.
Why is voice of customer important for your brand?
The post-pandemic climate and subsequent economic changes will see a decrease in consumer spending power over the coming years. VoC helps your brand take an unfair share of that available spend.
- Voice of the customer finds the gaps in your customer experience. It identifies what people expect from your brand, and where real-life experience falls short of those customer expectations. Leading to a better experience overall.
- Customer experience (CX) leads to loyalty. CX drives over two-thirds of customer loyalty, as all consumer/brand interactions combine to a simple perception: If I enjoy a brand, I will want to buy it again.
- Loyalty helps maintain sales. During a crisis, consumers rely on the brands they are loyal to. When spending power is cut, people still turn to the brands they love for the day to day essentials - from the weekly shop, to one-off treats.
With effective VoC monitoring, you can build brand loyalty, retain customers and increase existing spend. With customer retention a more cost effective sales driver than acquisition, essential when budgets are being cut.
And that’s not all. Listening to your customers can also help with:
- Product conception. Consumers often discuss products they would love to see. If an idea gets enough buzz, that identifies a concept you know would pay off.
not to go down the “why isn’t there grape ice cream” route again but why isn’t there white chocolate ice cream— adam zafrian (@adamzafrian) May 16, 2020
White chocolate could be your next popular ice cream flavor. Or maybe even grape.
- Product development. Adapt your flavors, packaging, products, or services, etc., based on what your clients say. The more you meet their needs, the more sales.
- Crisis aversion. Spot product complaints and major issues as they happen, then engage in the conversation quickly to tackle a crisis before it happens.
- Customer journey analysis. Find the gaps in your customer journey, to help boost sales and encourage faster purchases.
What should you include to complete your VoC program?
Analyzing the customer voice has really taken off over the last few years, as it relies on data. A lot of data collection. To complete this data collection puzzle, you need to combine a lot of puzzle pieces in one place.
A solution to handle all that data as one single source of truth. But I’ll come back to that. First, let’s take a look at the data sources you should include.
Social media listening
Pros - Social media provides you with valuable customer insights, are they’re not shaped by any preconceptions. It’s raw, real-time data, that constantly molds itself around the current trends and topics. If you want the latest category insights, social media listening is the only way to keep ahead.
Cons - The data is very raw, with few ways to shape the conversation as you want. You can try to herd consumers, by raising questions through owned channels, otherwise, you need to monitor your data effectively to pull actionable intelligence.
i hate how fast i finish starbucks drinks— francheska🐲 (@itsfrenchiiie) June 12, 2020
Could social media data hint towards consumers wanting larger portion sizes at Starbucks?
Pros - Focus groups and interviews help get to the niche details you want information on. You get to shape the questions, and really investigate your audience’s perception. Plus, consumers appreciate the personal touch this method offers.
Cons - Focus groups and interviews can be time consuming and costly. Plus, the data provided is very time-specific. A new crisis or global change can make the data irrelevant overnight, so you should try to integrate your findings with more sources.
Pros - Surveys sit somewhere between social media and focus groups. You can automate them, to get more instantaneous results, while still maintaining a level of depth to your data. You can also adapt them for various stages of your buying journey, to gather relevant data.
Cons - Surveys have to be carefully designed. You may want to try and gather as much information as you can, but too many questions and consumers will click away. You also run the risk of focusing on one area and missing a major issue. Additional data can help you shape the questions you should be asking.
Net promoter score ® (NPS)
Pros - I’ve covered the net promoter score before, as it’s a valuable metric that brands can use to quickly benchmark their customer satisfaction performance. It also helps track people who will promote your brand (those that rank you 9 or above), and those that will criticize your brand (people scoring 9 or above likely to promote your brand, and those ranking you 6 or below). Your overall score can be reviewed regularly to help predict a crisis. Or to assess the impact of a brand awareness campaign.
Cons - The score is just a number. It doesn’t provide any clues as to why people scored you as they did. Therefore, you need to include other tangible information to help you track why your score has changed (for better or worse).
How you rank a brand demonstrates whether you’re likely to promote it or criticize it.
Email, chat, and call data
Pros - This is where consumers are literally contacting you to tell you what you’re doing right or wrong. It’s up-to-date, and constant, providing you with a steady stream of insights.
Cons - This data is often siloed, held by the customer service team. Trying to add it to the rest of your data, can be tricky, unless a solution with adequate integration capabilities is found.
Pros - Much like email and call data, reviews help you see what consumers are saying at a macro level. Often, they will be created based on a highly positive or negative experience, so will often highlight the extreme highs or lows of the customer relationship.
Cons - Depending on your industry, you could find your reviews segmented across numerous sites. This, along with the complication of collating and understanding a quantity of long-form content, makes monitoring them a challenge.
Review data add an additional insights from customers.
Blogs and forum mentions
Pros - Blogs and forums are similar to social media mentions. User-generated content about the products consumers love and hate. But they tend to be long-form content - offering more detailed perspectives of the topics being discussed.
Cons - Similar to social media data, the content can be very raw and unexpected. Your brand can be pulled into a wide range of topics and conversations, some critical, and some not so. Managing the data effectively is vital for understanding what’s important to your brand, and what’s just noise.
How should you analyze your voice of the customer data?
With all that data, you need the right tools to manage it effectively. Especially if you’re looking at handling potentially millions of bits of data. But there are some effective techniques you can benefit from to make the task easier.
Sentiment analysis uses the power of AI to identify and categorize the sentiment of a mention - is it positive, negative or neutral? This helps, as you can quickly divide your analysis into two sections -
- What do people like and you should do more
- What do people hate and you should fix
Sentiment on the scale isn’t as easy as it sounds. You need a system that understands sarcasm and context, to ensure accuracy. Plus, the ability to customize the analysis to fit your use case, so that it learns from you as you review the data over time, helps improve your workflow and time-efficiency.
Check out Meg’s blog on online sentiment analysis to discover more.
In this example, the brand saw a peak in negative mentions, reacted quickly, and turned what could have been a crisis into a positive. Only through effective sentiment analysis.
Natural language processing
NLP can help you make sense of all that information. By analyzing the language used across all your data, it pinpoints the topics, trends and issues that are discussed the most.
Conversation Clusters are an advanced visualization with NLP at the core (it also does Natural Language Understanding - NLU).
These visualizations help translate masses of information through automated data segmentation. In the example above, I analyzed the biggest complaints around cell phones over 30 days, which were led by third party app issues and spyware risks. With hardware issues making less impact.
Sometimes, data in isolation means nothing. It’s only as you combine different bits of information that a picture is revealed.
For example, comparing your NPS against your social media sentiment can reveal the conversations that impacted your score.
Or, you could be stuck on why a certain issue has suddenly appeared as a focus in surveys and calls. Compare that data to your reviews, and you could find the cause is one negative review impacting opinions.
The problem in completing your voice of the customer program
In an ideal world, you would want to collate data from all of these sources to create a complete understanding of your customers. This boosts the benefits, and cancels the negatives from each source.
The problem is, finding a way to do that. Integrating these sources, often from different sectors of the business, into one platform can be a challenge. Then formatting them in a way that they’re comparable is another.
I’d be remiss here if I didn’t mention Talkwalker’s Customer Data+ capabilities. Allowing you to combine social media monitoring, reviews, owned data and more, into one solution. With a powerful AI engine and sentiment analysis capabilities to help comprehend that data as a whole.
Find your voice of the customer
The economic downturn is impacting businesses everyday. The coming months, even years, are going to be hard. But those businesses that are customer centric, that listen to the voice of the consumers, will be the ones that come out on top.
Take a peek at some of the consumer insights that you can gather by downloading the free report below.