Here’s why your Voice of Customer program isn’t giving you the insights you need
It’s not enough to simply have a barebones Voice of Customer program in place and expect it to generate results. Bottom-tier VoC programs only grow revenue incrementally, by the single digits, for their respective organizations. But companies with top-ranking Voice of Customer programs see annual revenue growth of nearly 50%.
A basic Voice of Customer program allows you to capture, assess, and analyze customer feedback and pain points. It encompasses all of the tools and processes your team uses to access customer insights throughout product development.
However, dynamic VoC initiatives are designed and executed to seamlessly deliver customer insights as your team makes critical product decisions, so they can build out a better customer experience based on what users want. Your program isn’t failing because you’re not running enough surveys or logging enough support tickets, but because you don’t have a plan and the right tools to help you uncover and act on the data you find.
Voice of the Customer programs fail when they’re not designed with retention in mind
Many brands run Voice of Customer initiatives just to collect feedback, going through the motions without properly analyzing the data to source valuable insights. Here’s why the process breaks down: you lose sight of retention as your end goal and construct a program that’s more focused on the data-gathering process than the business outcomes.
Without clear, customer-centric goals in mind, customer insights teams and product teams end up fumbling the data as it passes between them. They gather VoC data haphazardly and, too often, they can’t make sense of it in time for product developers to react with effective feature updates. When products are built, the customer’s voice isn’t heard.
The true purpose of a Voice of Customer program isn’t actually to capture data, measure customer satisfaction, or even to understand customer pain points. You should really be running a VoC program for two reasons:
- You’re aiming to improve retention and increase customer lifetime value (CLV), the single most critical metric in business for measuring future growth and success.
- You wholeheartedly believe that incorporating customer feedback into how you build products will lead to higher retention over time.
Organizations with top-tier VoC initiatives see 55% higher retention rates compared to bottom-tier VoC programs, according to a study from the Aberdeen Group.
In a failing VoC program, where the process is the main focus, individual departments own their respective feedback sources. Customer support owns support tickets and collects that data. The social media team owns the social media sentiment analysis and collects feedback from those channels.
There’s no centralized function for data collection or feedback analysis. Because of the siloed approach, key insights may be missed, data is often inconsistent and unreliable, and the customer’s voice is often drowned out. No one is asking follow-up questions like, “Why are customers requesting improvements to checkout on iOS?” The process becomes more about tracking raw data than understanding and acting on the context.
Many companies also start their VoC programs too late, when capturing user feedback is the most pressing pain point they face. But you’re playing catch-up in this case. Customers are always giving their input and making requests. You’ve missed a lot by the time you implement your Voice of Customer program, and it takes a ton of effort to refine.
A VoC program with clear success criteria yields more actionable insights
A successful Voice of Customer program enables timely and productive feedback loops between customers and product builders.
Customer insight managers quarterback the entire program, centralizing, analyzing, and distributing relevant VoC feedback to the right teams and product owners. Product managers apply that feedback and act quickly to make decisions that fulfill the product vision. They build what customers need and request based on the inputs they see.
That’s the structure of a Voice of Customer program that’s geared toward retention. Team members work together, utilize customer data, and share insights to deliver great products to their users. But you need three success criteria to build the foundations for such a program:
- Centralized insights: One centralized team at your company manages all customer feedback data across all channels, instead of a siloed approach. If you’re still scaling up, this might just be one person who’s responsible for gathering all customer insights. But every piece of qualitative feedback should flow through a central feedback repository for analysis and distribution.
- Product improvements rooted in VoC: Tie specific product improvements back to decisions where VoC data was leveraged effectively. Fulfilling this piece requires dedicated product developers who can comb and analyze insights from the program. But you also need developers who can apply them during product builds to create features for users.
- Closed feedback loop: Measure the impact on customer sentiment after you make changes or improvements. After you release a new product or update, see if it’s resonated with users. Maybe your team just released an offline mode. Are trends or complaints going back down in the feedback you’re receiving? Successful programs close the loop and validate the impact of product decisions.
These criteria help ensure that your team has both the tools and the methods in place to successfully uncover and act on insights. You’ll not only gather data but measure the real impact on users and incorporate it into every iteration of your product.
Apply AI to self-serve insights and move quickly to address customer feedback
You don’t have to keep hiring more staff just to implement an effective VoC strategy that hits on the core success criteria. Manual processes often lead to tangled data and slow down results. AI and natural language processing (NLP) tools can gather all of your qualitative feedback in one place, uncover critical trends, and lead to informed product decisions — all through an automated process.
AI-based platforms help you analyze feedback immediately and granularly to get to the “why” right away so you can start building. A manual Voice of Customer system might uncover repeated insights like “connectivity issues,” but that’s only scratching the top layer of what your users are telling you. When you dig into the reasons behind the issues, you’ll find they’re actually requesting an offline mode. You can surface that quickly through automation, and your product team can act on that feedback with an update.
Enterpret’s automated feedback platform collects all of your customer’s comments and insights in one unified repository. Customer insights managers can quickly access, self-serve, and analyze insights across every channel, then distribute them to the right person on the product team. By automating the process, you can comb through insights faster to prioritize next steps and product features.
Our platform makes it easy for teams to review analysis and determine that customers are requesting a new feature. For many product-led growth (PLG) companies, we’ll speed up their time to resolution by setting up automated alerts on Slack for the product development team.
For deeper analysis and context, join feedback with user behavior to better understand your Voice of Customer in all situations. We’ve worked with PLGs who will pair qualitative feedback with user analytics in order to break it down by device type, user type, and user actions — and capture these insights inside their automated taxonomy. For instance, you can dive into the breakdown of chatbox issues for users who take certain actions, or compare power users vs. casual users.
Start manually to gain traction, then add automation to scale your VoC program
Manual VoC programs and data analysis are perfectly acceptable, especially for companies that are still scaling up. They help you validate success and navigate cultural and process challenges as you launch. But once you reach 500 pieces of feedback a month across all your sources, it’s time to bring automation into the fold. You’ll see greater value instead of doubling or tripling the headcount you’d need to scale manually.