Long before Lean Startup and Eric Reis, there was Four Steps to the Epiphany by Steve Blank.
Long before Steven Blank, there was common sense. What do these things have in common?
They implore you to talk to customers.
When you can’t talk to customers, or don’t have any, or don’t have enough, there are plenty of other ways to get information from them. But we have to emphasize this point before moving on: customer interviews are a crucial driver of your marketing program.
Voice of Customer data is your alternative to one-on-one data. And it’s pretty easy to find and record.
What is VOC?
Voice of Customer (VOC) data is a concept that comes from Quality Function Deployment (QFD) developed for value engineering by Dr. Yoji Akao. And value, of course, is in the eye of the beholder, so Dr. Akao included customer interviews as a necessary component of product development. That is, how customers feel about products should inform how they’re made.
The point is simple: this is nothing new. The idea of Voice of Customer has been around since the 1960s, and the more it is applied, the more it’s understood to be a key revenue driver.
Voice of Customer data has been applied to:
- Product Development
- Conversion Rate Optimization
- Customer Support and Satisfaction
- Sales Process Design and Alignment
- And more…
Obtaining Voice of Customer Data
It’s probably obvious by now, but the only way to get Voice of Customer data is by observing what your customers say. The words, phrases, and ideas they convey about products are what we’re after.
There are several ways to do it.
At Good Funnel, we prefer to do fist-hand, one-on-one interviews and build our own primary research so we fully understand where your customers are coming from and how they feel.
The 3 main ways to gather Voice of Customer data are:
- Customer Interviews (of course)
- Customer Surveys
- VOC Aggregators
The first two involve asking your customers to directly provide feedback, while Voice of Customer Aggregators provide a “cheat.” That is, you don’t have to ask customers to give you feedback at all.
Voice of Customer Aggregators: Your Shortcut to Driving Conversion Rates
VOC aggregators are exactly what the name implies: a collection of Voice of Customer data. VOC Aggregators come in many forms, and are different depending on your industry and product.
Any site that allows users and customers to review products is a great place to see what people are saying in their own words. If the site allows it, try sorting by 1-star and 5-star reviews to see why people hate and love products/services. A few good review sites include:
- Amazon.com (best for B2C)
- Getapp.com and Capterra.com (for B2B SaaS apps)
- Yelp (for local, brick and mortar business)
If you haven’t seen it before, we highly recommend you check out Jay Abraham’s talk about using Amazon reviews to write higher performing copy.
Forums and User Groups
Most companies have forums where customers can exchange information, tips, and ask each other questions. It doesn’t really matter if your company has its own forum – just check out your competitors’ forums and user groups to see what their customers are saying.
And the really nice thing about forums is that they allow you to not only see what people have to say, but you can see how they interact and converse with others about a specific product or service.
People as Voice of Customer Aggregators
Some of the best Voice of Customer Aggregators in the world are people. That’s because they’re on the front lines talking to customers every day. So they know how customers feel, think, and buy.
People as VOC Aggregators are, by definition, interacting with customers on a daily basis. People with the following titles could be great VOC Aggregators to interview:
- Customer Service and Support
- Account Management
- Human Resources
- Business Owners
Keep in mind, though, that people form their own opinions and biases over time. Don’t interview a single VOC Aggregator and use their opinion as gospel. Instead, interview 5-10 and you’ll see some trends emerge. Those trends will get you closer to the “truth” about your customers.
Whatever you do, talk to your customers and prospects. VOC Aggregators are a terrific supplement to your customer data, but never a replacement.
As you collect your data, stay organized so that you can clearly identify trends in the data and pull out direct quotes that can be used in your messaging and copy.
The more rigor you apply to obtaining Voice of Customer Data, the higher your conversion rates.