The customer voice, also known as Voice of the Customer (VoC), is at the core of any successful customer experience (CX) program. It refers to the customers’ needs, wants, and expectations as it pertains to a company’s products or services.

A customer voice program focuses on capturing the expectations, likes, and dislikes of your customers. You do this by gathering and analyzing customer insights and identifying trends and strategies to improve customer experience. In essence, a customer voice program gives your customers a voice within your organization.

Why customer voice is important

Even though most organizations would agree that they’re customer-centric, only a few are actually delivering experiences that align with the customer voice. According to a study conducted by Bain and Company, while 80% of companies say they’re customer-centric, only 8% of customers agree.

customer voice graph

This becomes even more problematic when you consider that poor customer experience is costing U.S. companies $136.8 billion per year due to avoidable churn.

The best way to improve the customer experience at your organization is to listen and act on what your customers are telling you, i.e, the customer voice. Companies that make customer voice (and by default CX initiatives) a priority are more likely to surpass those that don’t.

In fact, according to the Gartner group, great customer experience is a major competitive advantage—with more than two-thirds of marketers saying their companies compete mostly on the basis of CX. And in two years time, 81% say they expect to be competing mostly or completely on the basis of CX.

A VoC program reveals what your company is doing well and where you’re lagging behind. It can also act as a compass that guides you on the right track.

More benefits of listening to the customer voice:

Organizations that pay attention to the customer voice have better customer experiences and the benefits of those are countless. Here’s some:

  • Companies that have high Net Promoter Scores (NPS) grow faster.
  • Companies with great customer experiences have a 16% price premium on products and services.
  • 69% of U.S. online adults shop more with retailers that offer consistent customer service both online and offline.
  • 67% of customers are willing to pay more for a better customer experience.
  • After having a positive experience with a company, 77% of customers would recommend it to a friend.
  • 65% of U.S. customers find a positive experience with a brand to be more influential than great advertising.
  • Satisfied customers are more likely to upgrade or add services and are less likely to cancel.

Essentially, making VoC a priority leads to higher retention rates, an increase in revenue, and reduced churn.

How to know if you’ve lost touch with the customer voice

As the Bain and Company study suggests, most companies don’t know that they’re delivering bad customer experiences until it’s too late.

Here are some warning signs that show your customers are unsatisfied with your brand:

  • The support team is repeatedly receiving tickets regarding the same issues.
  • Reviews and ratings are on the decline.
  • Your customer churn is steadily rising.
  • New product/feature launches are met with negative reception.
  • Customers are contacting you about issues that your team has never even considered.

The only way to know what your customers want is to pay attention to what they’re saying. Let’s go over how you can do that.

How to collect customer voice insight

When it comes to collecting VoC data there are generally three categories feedback falls into:

  1. Direct feedback: This occurs when a customer knows the organization is listening, such as when they provide feedback through a website surveys, live chat survey, an in-person customer interview, etc.
  2. Indirect feedback: This happens when a customer talks about a company, but not necessarily to the company. Their feedback might come in the form of a tweet or on a third-party review website for example.
  3. Inferred feedback: Inferred feedback is based on how customers use your products and services. For example, how often and how long they use your platform, the number of times they contact customer service or even the frequency of purchases they make.

Customer listening technology and CRM solutions like Salesforce can help you capture and analyze customer feedback during company-wide CX initiatives.

How to use the customer voice

There’s more to Voice of the Customer than simply distributing surveys and collecting responses.

To be a customer-centric organization you have to consider feedback from every customer, respond as quickly as possible and use the insights uncovered to make improvements across departments.

For example:

Product development: Product teams can use VoC insights to prioritize feature request and reduce friction points associated with using a product.

Marketing: Can use customer voice to create better-targeted campaigns that highlight value propositions customers actually care about based on data rather than intuition.

Sales: Sales reps can use the data acquired through VoC programs to identify ideal customers and the selling points that appeal to them the most.

Customer support: VoC empowers support teams by highlighting touchpoints customers have the most trouble with as well as identifying dissatisfied customers so that they can be assisted.

The insights you get from customer voice programmes have to be shared across all departments.

Here’s an example of a Voice of the Customer (VoC) internal communications plan from our team. You’ll see below that even though most VoC insights will come from customer-facing departments like support, sales, and marketing, delivering great CX is a company-wide initiative and it can’t work without support from C-Suite.

customer voice voice of the customer

Wrap-up on customer voice

Improving customer experience isn’t a project you launch once and forget about it. Rather, you should think about it as a new way of doing business in which you put the custom voice first—customer values do change and you need to keep up with it.