Voice of the Customer: How Public Opinion Leads to Profits

A great product and brilliant marketing do not necessarily translate into success in a competitive marketplace. No matter how well designed it is, a product or service must closely align with the needs of potential customers to gain traction. Likewise, marketing plans and communications must reflect customers’ habits, values, needs, and lexicon to reach and resonate with them. The Voice of the Customer should be built into the product design process from beginning to end to maximize success. To remain relevant, product and brand teams must continue to ensure that communications speak effectively to their customers.

What Is Voice of the Customer?

Voice of the Customer (VOC) originated as a product development technique that identifies a detailed set of customer wants and needs, then prioritizes them based on importance and satisfaction with current offerings. It provides a useful starting point for product innovation and a blueprint for development, as well as a highly recommended quality control technique. From its inception in design, Voice of the Customer then spread to ensure that that marketing and communications also reflect the wants, needs, and language of customers. At its heart, Voice of the Customer recognizes that the way we think as developers, marketers, and other professionals does not necessarily reflect the way in which customers think.

How to Measure Voice of the Customer

A Voice of the Customer program requires a comprehensive list of customer wants and needs, both stated and unstated. These should then be prioritized in terms of importance and on the degree to which competitive products are meeting these needs, looking in particular for any unmet needs. For marketers, a Voice of the Customer program should provide the language or lexicon in order to communicate effectively with customers. Information can be captured in a variety of ways, including focus groups, in-depth interviews, quantitative surveys, social media analysis, secondary sources, and customer service emails or hotlines. Ideally, multiple sources of information are used to provide greater depth.

New Developments in Voice of the Customer

The explosion of social media and emergence of text analytics as a discipline has provided a new way to measure Voice of the Customer, such as this one provided by NetOwl. This type of social media analysis allows marketers and developers to obtain detailed information faster and more affordably than large, and often costly, research programs. It can provide ongoing information for marketers to supplement their more traditional research programs. With the growth of online content, social media analysis is also especially important for effective digital marketing.

An in-depth understanding of your customers is a key step in effective product design, marketing, and communication. It will help you develop more appealing products and create better marketing campaigns and online content. Look for ways you can obtain this information within your budget from primary research to social media analysis.