Understanding Customers: What They Need, What They Value

Martin Newman
February 23, 2024
6 mins
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Creating a customer-centric strategy is vital for businesses aiming to thrive in today’s competitive environment. Understanding your customers—what they need, what they value, and how they interact with your brand—is the cornerstone of this strategy. The Voice of the Customer (VoC) and related techniques offer invaluable insights into customer preferences and behaviour, that can guide your business to tailor your products, services, and experiences to meet the needs of different groups of customers.

This blog explores how businesses can effectively utilise VoC and complementary techniques to deepen their understanding of their customers.

What is Voice of the Customer (VoC)?

Voice of the Customer (VoC) refers to the process of capturing customers' expectations, preferences, and aversions. This involves collecting feedback across various touchpoints and stages of the customer journey. The aim is to gather actionable insights that can drive product development, improve customer service, and enhance the overall customer experience.

Techniques to Understand Your Customers:

1. Surveys and Questionnaires:

Surveys and questionnaires are classic yet powerful tools for gathering direct feedback from customers. They can be utilised to assess customer satisfaction, understand the effectiveness of recent changes, or gather suggestions for improvement. The key is to keep surveys concise, relevant, and timely to encourage participation. When was the last time a brand whose website you were on asked you why you left without making a purchase? It’s amazing how we’re all focussed on the top of the funnel and not why people leave us empty-handed.

2. Interviews and Focus Groups:

One-on-one interviews or focus groups offer deeper insights into customer opinions and feelings. These discussions can uncover nuanced views on your products or services and provide a platform for customers to share their experiences in their own words. They allow you to get under the skin of what customers really think of you.

3. Social Listening:

Social media platforms are where customers openly share their experiences and opinions. By monitoring mentions of your brand, products, or industry, you can gain insights into customer sentiment, emerging trends, and areas for improvement. Social listening tools can automate this process, making it easier to capture and analyse data.

4. Customer Journey Mapping:

Understanding the path your customers take from discovering your product to making a purchase can reveal key touchpoints and pain points and the points of friction that stop customers from making a purchase. Customer journey mapping involves visualising the customer’s experience through different stages, helping identify opportunities to enhance the journey and remove obstacles.

5. Net Promoter Score (NPS):

The Net Promoter Score is a metric used to gauge the loyalty of a firm's customer relationships. It asks customers how likely they are to recommend a company’s product or service to others. NPS can provide a quick snapshot of customer satisfaction and predict business growth.

6. Analysing Customer Support Interactions:

Customer support interactions are a goldmine of insights into common problems, questions, and customer frustrations. Analysing these interactions such as why customers are contacting the customer service team can help improve product features, streamline processes, and enhance training for support staff.

online customer feedback

Best Practices for Implementing VoC Techniques:

Integrate Feedback Across Departments: Ensure that customer feedback is shared and utilised across different departments, from customer service and stores to product development and marketing, to create a cohesive strategy that addresses customer needs.

Act on Feedback: Collecting feedback is only the first step. It’s crucial to analyse the data, to  identify actionable insights, and implement changes based on customer input.

Close the Feedback Loop: Inform your customers about the changes made based on their feedback. This not only improves customer satisfaction but also encourages further engagement and feedback.

Measure and Refine: Continuously measure the impact of changes made based on VoC insights. Use customer feedback to refine your approach and make ongoing improvements.

Understanding your customers through VoC and related techniques is an ongoing process. By actively listening to your customers and integrating their feedback into your business strategy, you can create more value for your customers and differentiate your brand in the market.

To unlock the potential of your business, my book The Power of Customer Experience shows you how to provide effective customer experience, and the strategies you need for business success. You can also download my FREE eBook 10 New ROIs, or consider joining my Mini MBA in Customer Centricity, the must-have course for business owners and senior management in any customer facing environment.