It plays out almost like a scene from a movie: a group of marketers sitting around a conference room table, trying to figure out how to get more leads. They know that if they don’t get more leads—and quickly!—they won’t meet their quota and sales will look down on them (even more than they do already). They’ve defined their ideal buyer personas and done extensive research to understand what makes them tick; now if only they could find out how to turn those personas into qualified leads.
“What if we try to ask our current customers some questions?” one marketer suggests. “No,” the rest agree, “they’re already customers. We shouldn’t waste our time talking to them.”
“they’re already customers. We shouldn’t waste our time talking to them.”
Sound at all familiar? If this scenario hits too close to home for your marketing department, it’s time to change your way of thinking. It’s time, in fact, to make a commitment to knowing and understanding your voice of the customer (VOC).
After all, if you don’t have a clear picture of what your customers—the very life-breath of your organization—think and a basic understanding of how they feel, how can you properly try to attract new customers? Keep in mind that your customers weren’t always customers; they, too, were prospects once upon a time. And who better to weigh in on what your prospects really want and need before they’ll make the decision to work with your organization?
What is a VOC?
A voice of the customer program is designed to capture just that: the voices of your customers.
There’s a common misconception that a VOC program is just another term for focus groups, but the reality is that they’re so much more. While focus groups have their place at times—say you’re a manufacturer of custom food ingredients and you need an unbiased opinion of your ingredient used in an application versus a competitor’s—there’s also a very rich opportunity to tap into your customers firsthand and hear what they have to say about their experience.
Think of it this way: your customers are already part of your network. By choosing you as their vendor, they’re on the hook. They know you, you have every right to communicate with them, and they’re likely to respond to you. They’re low-hanging fruit that’s ripe with insights (see what I did there?).
VOC Best Practices
Generally speaking, you can gather customer feedback in many different ways—face-to-face, by asking for a testimonial or recommendation, via forms on your website, and so on—but perhaps the most common way is to conduct a simple online survey.
Start by outlining what type of information you want to ask your customers. Maybe you’d like to know how many competitors your customers considered before choosing to work with you, or what the final decision was that solidified your organization as their choice. Craft your questions carefully based on what information will help you refine your marketing efforts to attract new prospects.
Once you’ve identified the questions you’ll ask your customers, decide on the right cadence for gathering feedback. Will you send your survey every six months, or does it make more sense to ask your customers for feedback on a quarterly basis?
No matter how often you gather VOC insights, make sure you’re compiling the data and acting on what your customers are telling you. Did your customers reveal a flaw in the buying process that could be addressed to help new prospects make a decision faster? Maybe your customers shared a particular aspect of working with you that they really appreciate; highlight those strengths of your organization and make sure they’re displayed to your prospects.
VOC programs and inbound marketing naturally pair well together. Use the insights that your customers share to shape the content you create to attract prospective customers, and watch the leads fly in!