The COVID-19 pandemic undoubtedly took its toll on every facet of life, and businesses are still grappling with the damage it has done. Due to the seriousness of the situation, the World Bank had to sound the warning that most countries are expected to face recessions in 2020.
For any brand that wants to remain relevant in the marketing world, therefore, it’s essential to focus on the voice of the customer (VoC) in 2021 and years beyond. It won’t be wrong to say that 2021 is a new beginning due to the changes brought about by the pandemic, and consumer behavior may take a very long time to return to what it was—if it ever does.
Such changes as social distancing and remote working have ensured that online shopping is taking the center stage, and that means that customers have a very good opportunity of dictating what happens in the market. Brands must, therefore, be wholly customer-centric.
Why do you need to gather and understand your customers’ feedback?
When you effectively analyze and apply their responses, you will improve both customer experience and the performance of your product in the market.
The following are three amazing ways VoC can turn around the fortunes of your brand.
1. Gaining actionable insights into the activities of your competitors
The internet has made it possible for you to do anything with the voice of the customer, but the first thing that places your brand squarely in the market is the ability to gain actionable insights into the activities of your competitors. In today’s market, competition between brands that offer similar products and services is fierce.
However, the decision-makers in your company (i.e. CEO, CFO, and CIO) must be on the same page with you for a successful VoC program. Your customers obviously don’t know which internal departments are responsible for engaging with customers or collecting customer feedback. All they know is that they’re engaging with the brand, and this dictates that everybody must listen to and understand what customers say.
Any attempt to silo VoC initiatives only to marketing or customer service alone will amount to playing the ostrich game.
Customers make use of social media and product review platforms to express their positive, negative, and even neutral sentiments about products and brands. This allows you to know what your competitors do differently.
With the rate new businesses are launched daily, you must expect that there will be serious efforts to grab customers from your brand, especially when they promise to offer disruptive solutions and better products. However, if you can keep up with their antics, you will have a good knowledge of what they are up to.
One good thing about competition is that it tends to push you to improve and that ultimately means success.
In a recent study, Bain and Company discovered that while 80% of companies believe they offer good customer services, only a paltry 8% of customers agree. This means you need to listen to VoC to understand how your customers feel. You can’t continue to assume that you are giving them the best.
This is also a good indicator that your brand has a tremendous opportunity to disrupt a competitor, call the shots, and gain market share in an industry.
You must understand that what your customers say is of great importance and can greatly influence the success of your business.
2. A good understanding of your customer
Customers can make or break a brand, therefore your brand’s survival hinges on you getting to know their pain points. VoC will enable you to answer the following questions:
- What do my customers want?
- How do they want it?
- When do they want it?
- Why do they want it?
Once you have the answers to these questions, you have all you need to improve your product or service. A few years back, customers didn’t have so many channels through which they could air their views, recommendations or grievances. The internet has obviously changed that.
They can now make use of Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, and more. Once customers connect with you, they usually have great expectations of being known and served whenever they want.
Some of your customers will complain if they don’t get the service they believe they deserve. The unfortunate thing is that they may not complain directly to you; they will complain to the world through social media platforms. The damage the disgruntled customers can cause may take a long time to “heal.”
Your customers who are happy with the brand will use the same channels too, but this inevitably comes less frequently. You may have to develop a program that encourages the sharing of positive feedback and even provides a platform for customers to share their stories.
Image Source: Patagonia
It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the many channels through which the voice of the customer can be heard. You may also feel that creating a powerful and enduring customer experience is a herculean task. The truth is that your customers only want what is best for them, and just as the internet can enable them, technology such as AI and machine learning can also enable you to effectively turn VoC data into a competitive advantage.
3. Avoiding devastating surprises and failures
In 2019, 61 percent of millennial consumers in the United States stated that they would be willing to pay more for quality customer service. Incidentally, this was before the COVID-19 pandemic. Now that consumers have had to adapt to radical changes, and most people are shopping online, it has become expedient for you to ensure that you listen to VoC.
Ultimately, VoC helps you to be mindful of your surroundings, avoid devastating surprises and failures. It will enable you to build a customer-centric brand culture. Your whole effort must be geared towards putting the customer at the heart of your goals and activities.
It’s silly to expect customers to connect with you through your preferred channel. It’s your responsibility to seek them out through whatever channel they frequent, and when they want.
They will want to go through the channel that’s easiest and most convenient for them. Even if it’s a phone, a desktop computer, or a tablet, you must understand that’s the communication method they are most comfortable with.
What is important to them is that you listen to their pain points.