We’ve all probably heard the phrase, “The customer is always right.” And while this is not always true, you should, at the very least, be listening to what the customer has to say. Not only does listening help point you towards quality issues, but it also helps your team understand why the customer is struggling and why they’re having a subpar experience.
Voice of the customer (VoC) data is important to any company, as it allows you to adjust your strategy and implement new projects across departments. Here is how we, at Readers.com, use VoC data to continually improve our business though capturing data, analyzing the feedback, making changes, and monitoring results.
What is VoC?
VoC is an acronym for “voice of the customer,” and is considered any type of feedback that describes your customers’ needs or changing requirements. In the past, VoC consisted of procedures such as focus groups, interviews, ethnographic techniques, etc., that are used for market research. Although these methods are still in the realm of VoC data today, the term is also used to describe any feedback the customer may have in relation to their experience, your product or service, and their expectations.
Capturing VoC Data
VoC can be captured in a variety of methods. As mentioned previously, the most traditional ways to collect VoC data are through focus groups and interviews — but, at Readers.com, we record customer feedback by sending NPS (net promoter score) and CSAT (customer satisfaction) surveys, checkout surveys, product review questionnaires, and by speaking with customers on the phone, through online chat, and via email.
Surveys are an easy and cost-effective way to reach a large audience in a short amount of time. After a customer buys a product from one of our brands, they are sent an NPS survey about a week later. If a customer interacts with our customer happiness team through online chat, phone, or email, we send them a CSAT email that asks them to rate their experience. We collect this data through a form builder and data collection software called Formstack, which then pushes data into Domo for analysis.
Analyzing the Feedback
Once you’ve gathered VoC data, then you must work through the feedback and prioritize the issues. For example, if our customer happiness team is receiving feedback from customers about a broken link or incorrect coupon code, they will report the issue with the highest available priority so that it will be fixed immediately. Most of the high-priority issues are brought to our attention via social channels, or when customers contact our customer happiness department directly.
Issues that aren’t as pressing often take longer to analyze, because we’re watching for trends and consistency. For example, we noticed at the beginning of the year that our customers were asking to see our products pictured in additional ways. This kind of feedback is really important, but the fix is time consuming and expensive. Before we made a plan to add additional angles, shots on models, or videos, we wanted to make sure that enough people found this to be a barrier to shopping on our site. We continued to watch our NPS feedback, and even included the question in an additional customer survey to ensure we weren’t spending our human resources on a fix to make a handful of customers happy.
Distributing VoC Data Across Different Departments
We truly believe that customer satisfaction is the responsibility of every team member at Readers.com. Although our customer happiness team talks to our customers the most, VoC data should drive change in every department. Therefore, after we analyze the data, we make sure to distribute it to the appropriate teams.
A simple way we distribute customer feedback is through weekly company-wide NPS reports. Team leads are tagged in the report so they then become responsible for specific issues relating to their department. Customer feedback and department action items are often reviewed at weekly team huddles, and important or pressing issues are pushed to the senior team for their weekly meeting. We believe it is important that every person in the company has access to the VoC data and everyone understands what our customers are experiencing, but also that we assign responsibility to people or departments so that we’re always driving the changes our customers want and need.
Implementing Policy and Strategy Changes
Once you’ve collected, analyzed, and distributed customer feedback, you can start testing policy and strategy changes. After determining your goals, it is important to create a plan for testing your change. Some changes, like a change in shipping carriers, can be rolled out all at once and monitored for a specific amount of time to ensure the change isn’t negatively impacting other areas of your brand.
Other changes need to be tested on smaller amounts of traffic or fewer pages before taking an all-in approach. In the photo example I mentioned above, we decided to test a select amount of products with model shots, videos of models wearing our products, and videos of just our products. All three changes answered our customers’ request for more visibility into our reading glasses, and testing showed positive gains for all three additions. We ultimately determined that we would get the greatest ROI from adding product videos in 2016, but are open to testing model shots again in the future.
After you’ve implemented changes, it’s time to monitor results. It is important to assign a team member to actively track the appropriate metrics, and report back to the overall team. We send all tests and changes through our conversion expert and our product manager. Once you get into a good rhythm of acknowledging a problem, implementing a solution, and then checking results, you’ll become more efficient. And if your change did not render the results that you anticipated, try a different approach — you’re not going solve every solution the first time around. Just make sure to set annual and quarterly VoC data goals, monitor them over time, and celebrate improvements.
It is important to measure the change that each new policy or feature has on your customer, but it is also important to look at the global impact of changes over time. We saw an increase of over 4 percentage points in our NPS score from Q1 to Q2, which we see as proof that our focus on VoC is working.
From surveys to phone calls, VoC data comes in many mediums. Even though collecting the data and sorting through the information may seem daunting, it is necessary. Listening to your customers and implementing changes to policy, operations, and strategy will not only improve their experience, but it will also create brand advocates who love your product or service.
Angie Stocklin is COO and Co-Founder of One Click Ventures, which owns Readers.com.