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NPS PRISM INSIGHTS

How To Build An Effective Voice of the Customer Program

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What Is the Voice of the Customer?

The Voice of the Customer (VoC) is an element of customer experience (CX) that summarizes customers’ feedback about their experiences with your organization, products and services. It’s focused on understanding and acting upon customer needs, expectations and preferences. 

What Is a Voice of the Customer Program?

Voice of the Customer or VoC programs solicit and collect customer feedback related to specific experiences. A VoC program may focus on certain aspects of your company’s products, services or solutions. It may also center around specific customer goals, expectations or touchpoints within a journey. 

A Voice of the Customer program helps you gather critical insights into how customers perceive your organization and how they feel about their experiences with it. The goal of your VoC program should be to learn more about your customers and their expectations, so you can better align your customer experience strategies around them. 

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Today, VoC programs leverage innovative technology like artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to help brands collect and analyze customer feedback data at scale, allowing your company to identify trends, opportunities, and risks across your entire customer base.

Equipped with timely, meaningful VoC insights, your organization can make informed decisions about the future of your CX strategy — providing customers with experiences that perfectly align with their expectations and business needs. 

Why Is a Voice of the Customer Program Important?

In the past, businesses made assumptions about customers’ needs and preferences based on which products and services they purchased most frequently. And while this data gave organizations some insight into market demands, it didn't provide much insight into why some products succeeded — or failed — or how customers felt about the products or services they ultimately purchased. 

VoC programs help your organization get timely, direct feedback from your customers. Customer feedback can help you understand what’s working well, where you have opportunities to improve, and which areas of your customer experience are most impactful to your end users. 

These insights come together to improve visibility and give your marketing, sales and service teams the power to make informed decisions and measurable changes across customers' journeys.

A Voice of the Customer program will help your organization: 

  • Win and retain more customers
  • identify points of friction or customer dissatisfaction
  • Understand key elements of your customer journey
  • Improve product and service development

Three Reasons to Prioritize Voice of the Customer

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Ignite Growth

Expand and retain your customer base by understanding what your target audience wants, needs, and expects from your organization.

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Stay Competitive

Deliver an industry-leading experience that produces loyal customers and helps your business stand out from the crowd.

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Delight Customers

Anticipate customer needs, meet them exactly where they are, and speak their language across touchpoints. 

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How to Build a Voice of the Customer Program

Customer feedback can transform your CX strategies and accelerate growth, but only if you have an effective Voice of the Customer program in place to capture, consolidate and prioritize it. Creating a VoC program for your organization requires more than an impressive VoC software implementation.

Your teams must also embrace the value of customer feedback and buy into your VoC program — including your plans for acting on the insights it uncovers.

Ways to Ensure Your Program Is Set Up
for Success From Day One

Understanding the Voice of the Customer Program Methodology

If you’ve ever been asked, “Did you find everything you were looking for today?” at the grocery store or another retail establishment, you’ve likely participated in a VoC program, whether you realized it at the time or not. 

Each customer interaction allows brands to gather feedback and insight into their experiences, expectations, and loyalty. To see results from your company’s VoC program, you need to capture that feedback systematically through the collection methods that complement your business needs and your customers’ preferences.

The Voice of the Customer methodology refers to the tactics an organization uses to collect feedback from customers, including everything from sending out automated surveys to hosting focus groups or reaching out via email. 

A good VoC methodology encompasses multiple feedback collection tactics, including active and passive methods. In many cases, organizations will employ several methodologies in tandem to give their customers several options and allow customer experience teams to gather different types of feedback across channels. 

 

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Eight Methods For Collecting
Voice of the Customer Feedback

Here are some of the most common tactics and methodologies you can use to start collecting VoC feedback

NPS

Net Promoter ScoreSM (NPS) is the key metric of Bain & Company's Net Promoter SystemSM and a leading metric for measuring customer satisfaction and loyalty.

NPS surveys prompt customers to share how likely they’d be to recommend your organization on a 0-10 scale and offer a space for open-ended responses. NPS scores help your organization measure sentiment and loyalty, while surveys also collect qualitative feedback about customers’ experiences.

CSAT

Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) surveys also collect customer feedback through a numerical scale. Typical CSAT surveys ask customers to rate their satisfaction with a specific service or interaction on a scale of 1-5, from very dissatisfied (1) to very satisfied (5).

Similar to NPS, CSAT’s straightforward scoring system makes it easy to collect, monitor, and compare average scores over certain channels and periods.

CES

Customer Effort Score (CES) is designed to measure customers’ experiences through the level of effort they must put forth when solving an issue with your organization. CES uses a similar sliding scale to CSAT, but often poses a statement instead of a question.

For example, a CES survey might state, “I found it easy and convenient to communicate with [company]’s support team,” with 1 being strongly disagree and 5 being strongly agree.

Customer Interviews and
Focus Groups

Whether they're held in-person or over the phone, interviews and focus groups enable you to ask follow-up questions that provide an additional level of depth and often unlock insights that you can't gather from a simple survey.

They typically "ask" questions you didn't know you needed to "ask" and, if done right, can provide a more unbiased source of information that you can later validate with quantitative methods.

Online Reviews

Online reviews can feel daunting, but they’re a great source of Voice of the Customer data. You can tap into them to collect valuable feedback retroactively and without reaching out to individual customers directly.

Plus, understanding how reviews affect your online reputation will help you prioritize follow-ups with customers so you can limit the impact of negative feedback and effectively nurture your most loyal promoters. 

Social Media

Social media opens the door for two-way communication between your company and its customers. You can use it to participate in conversations about your brand, connect with customers or collect unfiltered customer feedback.

This unstructured feedback brings rich, unbiased insight to your VoC program, but its amorphous nature can also make for complex, expensive analysis in some instances. Consider your organization's industry and market position when prioritizing social media feedback within your VoC program. Consumer-facing brands may prioritize social media feedback, while transactional, B2B ones don't rely on it quite as much.

Customer Support Calls,
Emails and Chats

Your customer support channels are an invaluable source of VoC data. Each time your support team connects with customers via phone, email or live chat, they collect critical information about those customers’ expectations, emotions and overall sentiment.

Set up follow-up surveys, drip emails and forms across these channels to capture timely feedback when customers interact with your support team. By integrating these channels into your VoC program, you’ll create new opportunities to collect feedback — and assure customers know that you value their opinions. Your organization should systematically collect and report on insights across all of these channels, and ensure you're following up with customers appropriately and in a timely manner.

Website Data

How customers behave on your website can tell you a lot about their priorities, and how well (or not well) your website is accomplishing the goals it needs to for your company. Do users bounce quickly between pages or get stuck in frustrating loops looking for answers?

You can use heat maps and other behavioral data to track customers’ behavioral patterns on your website and identify where they’re running into roadblocks or uncertainties. This Voice of the Customer data is especially helpful in customer journey mapping and informing UX improvements.

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How to Develop a Successful Voice of the Customer Analysis Program

No matter the specific outcomes you want to achieve through VoC, your primary goal should be to understand how your customers perceive and interact with your brand, products and services.

A Voice of the Customer analysis program can help you gain this understanding through data-driven insights and actionable strategies. When done correctly, your VoC analysis program will boost customer loyalty, brand reputation and customer experiences across touch points. 

The components of an effective VoC analytics program: 

  • Structured feedback collection 

  • Robust data analysis 

  • Comprehensive action planning 

There are several steps you should take to align your customer experience team and larger organization behind these elements and create a strong foundation for your VoC analysis program.

Here’s how to get started: 

Identify Your Research Question

Your Voice of the Customer analysis program should help your organization answer critical CX questions. Before analyzing feedback, consult with your colleagues and stakeholders to identify the question(s) you want to answer through VoC. It might be something relatively specific, like: 

  • Why were European sales of our mid-tier wireless plan down last quarter?

  • What changes should we make to the pre-flight experience for loyalty members?

  • How can we make online booking more convenient for our customers? 

If you aren’t sure exactly what to ask, try zooming out a bit. Think about the most critical questions or unknowns that exist across your organization. 

“This product isn’t selling like we thought it would. Can we see what customers are saying about it?"

Consider your business goals and what insights would help inform your path toward them. Distill your question down to the heart of your VoC program. Ask yourself: What information from our customers would help us improve our business?

Each question will dictate the data you gather and how you analyze it, so it’s essential to complete this step before you begin parsing through survey results or open-ended feedback responses.

 

Gather and Prepare Your Data 

With your research question(s) in hand, it’s time to start gathering customer feedback. Start with question, then identify which types and channels would be the best source of that information. 

For example, you might aim to answer a question about brand perception by reading through online reviews or social media mentions, but gather CSAT or NPS survey responses to answer a product-focused question. 

No matter which collection methods you use, the feedback you gather will likely fall into one of three categories: 

  1. Direct feedback comes from customers who provided direct input when they knew your organization was listening — like through a survey, complaint form, interview or discussion panel.

  2. Indirect feedback comes from customers who spoke about your organization without necessarily speaking to it directly. Think social listening, online reviews and text analytics of support interactions. 

  3. Inferred feedback comes from behavioral and operational data associated with various customer experiences. Inferred feedback is often pulled from site data, purchase history or your contact center. 

In many cases, it's beneficial to collect data points across several methodologies, customer types, and feedback categories. The more varied your customer feedback data, the more likely you are to uncover unique responses that will help your organization better understand CX wins and opportunities. 

Once you’ve gathered, organized and contextualized your VoC data, it’s time to conduct an in-depth analysis of your findings.

 

Analyze Your Results

Certain types of data require (or enable) different types of Voice of the Customer analysis. Depending on the type of data you collected, you might complete a statistical analysis of NPS, CSAT or CES scores or use text analytics to identify content themes within open-ended survey feedback. 

Common VoC Analysis Tactics 

  • Statistical analysis 

  • Topic analysis

  • Sentiment analysis 

  • Natural language processing (NLP) via text analytics

  • Data correlation 

To determine the best method of analysis, you’ll need to consider both your primary research question and the type of data you’ve collected. Qualitative data lends itself to different analysis techniques than quantitative insights. And even then, small numbers of quantitative data has different analysis options than large numbers of quantitative data.

 

Develop an Attainable Action Plan

Some findings will lend themselves to an immediate course of action. For instance, if you uncover a glaring concern with a specific product or customer journey, you’ll likely invest the necessary resources to correct it quickly and follow up with the affected customers. 

In less urgent situations, your organization can still create a roadmap to address both negative and positive feedback in service to its customers. 

Expect to walk away with a mix of quick wins — like adding more signage to your lobby or parking lot — and long-term initiatives, like auditing and redesigning your mobile app to eliminate your customers’ most pressing pain points. 

No matter your specific action items, it’s essential to close the feedback loop with your customers, whether they made glowing remarks or call out several hard truths. Every action plan should include internal and external follow-up components. 

Internally, you might adjust your sales outreach process to fit customers’ communication preferences. Externally, you should follow up with the customers who provided feedback on your current sales outreach initiatives, letting them know you received their feedback and telling them how you plan to refine the process.

 

Turn Feedback Into Learning Opportunities

The methodology at the heart of Bain & Company’s Net Promoter System leverages the "inner loop," "huddle," and "outer loop" to help organizations turn customer insights into business impacts. 

You should implement this same methodology across its entire VoC program to ensure customers see the impact of the feedback they’re providing, both in direct and indirect interactions with your team. 

  • The inner loop promotes individual learning and helps employees enhance relationships with customers by exposing them to customer feedback and giving them the opportunity to follow up appropriately.

  • The outer loop helps organizations prioritize and support customer-centric changes individual contributors can’t make on their own by routing customer feedback to the appropriate decision-makers.

  • Huddles keep teams across all levels of an organization focused on customer-friendly initiatives through concise, routine meetings where the inner and outer loops converge.

 

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An effective Voice of the Customer program doesn't just collect customer insights — it turns them into an actionable customer experience strategy.

How to Use Voice of the Customer Insights to Improve Customer Experience 

If implemented correctly, regardless of what your ultimate questions are, VoC programs should make your customers’ experiences more convenient, personalized, and on par with (or above) their expectations. 

You can use newly uncovered Voice of the Customer insights to improve customer experiences by: 

Uncovering Unexpected Insights and Opportunities

VoC programs often uncover answers to questions you haven’t even asked yet, paving the way for meaningful further research and opening up new opportunities to improve your customer experience. 

For instance, you might create a feedback survey implicitly designed to help you determine which grocery store products to discount for loyalty club members, only to come across recurring feedback around a glitch in your store’s mobile app. 

Surprise findings like this can help you uncover new ways to delight your customers based on their genuine feedback about your business.

 

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Revealing Customers’ Preferences

Voice of the Customer data enables you to identify and mitigate less-than-ideal experiences across your organization. However, it’s also a great way to learn more about your customers’ likes and dislikes, so you can deliver experiences that don’t just meet expectations but exceed them. 

Survey responses, online reviews and support tickets give your customer experience team real-world insight into customers’ preferences — insight you can use to inform how you interact with those specific customers and customers like them moving forward. 

So if you learn from VoC data that one of your customers prefers communicating over email and receiving personalized check-ins from their account manager, add those notes to their record in your CRM to be sure your colleagues honor them in future interactions. 

 

Enhancing Customer Journeys

Voice of the Customer feedback can help you tap into CX opportunities at every level of your organization, from overall satisfaction to individual customer journeys. 

When collecting VoC feedback, you’ll want to pose research questions that address customers’ experiences and journeys at a granular level. 

So while relationship NPS and CSAT surveys that ask, “how likely are you to recommend us to a friend or colleague?” are essential, your organization should also ask for more granular feedback about specific experiences. 

Implementing a combination of relationship-level and episode-level VoC collection tactics will ensure your VoC program captures a wide range of customer feedback and uncovers actionable CX opportunities that are tied to specific journeys, not just overall sentiment.

 

Getting Ahead of Potential CX Shortfalls

A successful VoC program empowers customer experience and support teams to resolve customers’ concerns and improve misaligned experiences, but it also gives them the insights they need to take a proactive approach to their CX strategies. 

You can use VoC analytics to identify patterns and trends within your customers’ experiences and your company’s service delivery activities. By looking back at what went wrong in the past, you’ll be able to better anticipate and prevent similar issues from occurring in future customer interactions. 

For instance, let’s say your latest NPS survey data revealed that 40% of your customers saw a significant dropoff in communications 90 days after onboarding. With that data in hand, you could develop a check-in plan for your customer success team that remind reps to check in with new customers on a bi-weekly basis for the first six months of their engagement. 

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Voice of the Customer
Best Practices

A Voice of the Customer strategy should go beyond your choice in analytics software or answering the core questions you posed when developing your VoC program. 

While a reliable tech stack and clear vision are both integral to success, you must also consider how all the elements of your VoC initiatives fit together to provide you with a complete picture of your customer experience. Then, how your organization uses those findings to inform team learning, organizational improvement, and end-user experiences. 

Your VoC program should focus on cross-functional collaboration, holistic improvement and, above all else, customer centricity. To achieve these outcomes, you’ll need to align your organization behind several Voice of the Customer best practices.

Choosing the Right Voice of the Customer Tools

Now that we’ve covered the value of customer feedback, methods you might use to collect it and how you can leverage your findings, let’s discuss another essential part of your VoC program: the tools you’ll use to bring it to life.

As the name suggests, your Voice of the Customer tools are the systems and processes you’ll use to collect and analyze customer feedback. They make it possible to solicit and gather feedback through the many tactics shared above — from streamlining the NPS survey process to helping you identify common themes in online reviews. 

Every organization’s VoC software solution will look a bit different depending on their preferred feedback channels, existing tech stack, customers’ preferences and more. Still, there are several crucial VoC tools you should consider adding to your customer experience arsenal.

NPS Benchmarks

A competitive benchmarking solution like NPS Prism gives you access to not just feedback from your own customers’ insights but feedback from your competitors’ customers as well. 

NPS benchmarks take the guesswork out of customer experience, helping you end internal debates and develop a data-driven CX roadmap that delivers on your customers’ expectations and sets you apart from other brands in your industry.

NPS Insights

Along with comparing your NPS scores and other quantitative VoC findings to your competitors, your organization should invest in a solution that delivers qualitative NPS insights into what customers are saying about your brand. 

NPS insights uncover the “why” behind your scores and help you connect with the true voice of your customers, giving you the context and confidence you need to make impactful CX decisions. What’s more, this type of software makes it easy to collect and organize these insights at scale rather than asking your CX teams to parse through hundreds of review or email survey responses by hand.

NPS Analytics

Once you’ve gathered customer feedback, analyzing it is the first critical step toward measurable CX improvement. The right VoC software should make it easy to collect, consolidate and standardize all of your VoC data, even if it originates from several sources in various formats. 

NPS analytics solutions centralize VoC data from multiple sources under one roof. From there, you can run advanced analytics functions to obtain high-level and granular insights into your customers’ experience, sentiments and loyalty.

Tap into Powerful Voice of the Customer Data With NPS Prism

NPS Prism’s powerful NPS benchmarking platform enables you to make informed CX decisions by uncovering real-world insights directly from your NPS scores, your customers and your competitors’ customers. Our platform’s data collection and analysis tools are designed to complement your existing VoC tools, whether you’ve built an in-house program or purchased foundational VoC software. 

Built on Bain & Company’s tried-and-tested research methodology, NPS Prism shows you how your NPS scores compare to competitors in your industry. It also uncovers clear, up-to-date insights from open-ended NPS responses to help you make impactful customer experience improvements using real feedback from your customers and your competitors’ customers. 

Leverage NPS leaderboards to benchmark your NPS scores against competitors and monitor industry trends over time. Tap into KPI tracking and custom dashboards to continually monitor and improve the customer experiences that matter most to your business — and your customers.

NPS Prism’s data is backed by Bain & Company research and updated regularly to ensure your benchmarking analyses always reflect the latest insights from your industry and your customers.

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