What if, with just one simple strategy you could unlock all these benefits?
- More compelling messaging and positioning
- Innovative products and features that your customers crave
- A superior user experience
- The power to proactively solve user and brand problems
- Better customer retention
- A healthier bottom line
That may sound like a pipe dream, but it’s perfectly possible with a thoughtfully executed voice of the customer (VoC) strategy. Better still, as a product marketer, you’re perfectly placed to own this strategy and garner all those benefits for your company.
So, get comfy because in, this article, we’re going to walk you through…
- What the voice of the customer is
- The six key benefits of a VoC strategy
- Why product marketing should own the voice of the customer
- Six steps to build your VoC strategy
What is the voice of the customer?
So, what exactly is the voice of the customer? Definitions vary, but we think our friends at the Customer Marketing Alliance put it best:
“In essence, VoC is the act of capturing what your customers are saying about you [...] across multiple touchpoints in the customer journey. This feedback is then put into the hands of those making decisions within your business, allowing them to make continuous improvements to your processes.”
In short, harnessing the VoC is key to making every part of the customer journey truly customer-centric.
Six key benefits of a VoC strategy
Implementing a voice of the customer strategy can unlock a wealth of benefits for your organization. Here are six of the most valuable:
- More compelling messaging and positioning: A VoC strategy gives you rich insights into exactly what your customers want and need and where they find value in your product. Armed with this intel, you can craft more compelling messaging and positioning that truly resonates with your audience.
- Innovative products and features that your customers crave: Integrating customer feedback into your product development processes allows you to build the features and products that your customers are crying out for. This makes innovation far less risky.
- A superior user experience: Listening to the pain points and desires of users all along their journey with your brand empowers you to actively improve their experience.
- The power to proactively solve user and brand problems: Monitoring the VoC allows you to get ahead of brewing user problems before they boil over into crises. It also equips you to solve systemic brand health issues.
- Better customer retention: Showing customers that you not only listen to their feedback but act on it is a five-star way to get them to stick around.
- A healthier bottom line: You know that old adage about it costing five times more to acquire a new customer than to retain an existing one? That’s just the tip of the iceberg. Customers who are delighted with the products they’ve bought from you so far are way more likely to be open to upsell and cross-sell opportunities, ultimately increasing their lifetime value.
Ready to nail advanced product marketing strategy and tactics?
Get Advanced Product Marketing Certified.
Now that you've seen the incredible benefits, let's explore why product marketing is perfectly poised to own the VoC…
Why product marketing should own the voice of the customer
Owning a voice of the customer program is one of the most important responsibilities you can take on.
Because as a product marketer, you’re responsible for understanding your target audience and ensuring that your product delivers a meaningful experience for them. This means constantly gathering and analyzing customer feedback to ensure that your product is meeting their needs and delivering real value.
Crucially, product marketers are also the glue that binds together cross-functional stakeholders. By owning the voice of the customer program, you can act as a central hub, collecting feedback from different sources (such as customer support, sales, and product development) and synthesizing it into actionable insights.
As a tasty bonus, by leveraging customer feedback to inform product development and marketing campaigns, you’ll enhance the product marketing function’s internal influence and make it a strategic partner within your organization.
Of course, owning a voice of the customer program is no easy task. It requires a deep understanding of customer preferences, a strong grasp of data analytics and insights, and the ability to collaborate effectively with cross-functional teams. But for product marketers who are up to the challenge, the rewards can be massive.
So, if you're a product marketer looking to take your skills and influence to the next level, it’s time to take ownership of your organization's voice of the customer program.
How to build your VoC strategy in six steps
A wildly successful VoC strategy doesn’t happen by accident. It takes careful planning and flawless execution to tap into customer insights that spark real change.
So where do you start? By not getting ahead of yourself.
Follow these six simple steps for activating a VoC program tailored to your business, then sit back and watch the rewards roll in.
Step one: Define your objectives
First, clearly identify the key business issues or goals your VoC program aims to influence.
What problems need solving?
What opportunities could customer insights unlock?
Get specific. This gives your efforts purpose and direction from the start, while allowing you to tie VoC metrics to tangible business KPIs.
Step two: Map the customer journey
Next, it’s time to visually map major touchpoints across your customer lifecycle. Think about the entire customer journey, from when they first come across your brand to the moment they make a purchase and beyond. Consider each touchpoint and how it can affect customer satisfaction and loyalty. Take note of the touchpoints that really matter.
Remember: You don't have to do everything at once. Start with one or two areas that have the potential to make a significant difference. As you master those, you can gradually expand your efforts.
Step three: Choose your channels
Next, decide what channels your customers find most engaging for providing feedback. You may want to partner with your sales and customer success teams to find out where they have the most success in reaching customers.
Offer your customers the feedback channels that work best for their preferences – this could be via online surveys, in-app notifications, phone interviews, or email invitations, for instance. You want to remove any friction in order to collect insights from as much of your customer base as possible.
From there, you should determine the best question types and survey formats to meet the objectives you outlined earlier. Consider using a mix of relationship surveys that analyze the ongoing health of the customer experience, and transactional surveys that assess satisfaction with specific touchpoints. That way, you’ll gather the richest VoC insights.
Finally, identify internal stakeholders across functions who need access to customer perspectives in order to improve products, services, and experiences. Remember that to build true customer centricity, you need company-wide alignment, so bring in stakeholders beyond customer-facing roles - like operations, finance, HR and others.
As with your customers, it’s a good idea to meet your stakeholders where they’re at. Are you surrounded by Slack fans? Great – set up a #VoC channel. Are dashboards more their speed? Cool – partner with your operations team to set one up. The aim is to get your whole company paying attention to the voice of a customer, so make it easily accessible for everyone.
Step four: Gather feedback and optimize collection
Now it's time to activate your channels and start gathering insights.
You might want to set up a customer experience tool like Medallia or Forsta to generate live reports and alerts for any issues needing immediate attention.
To create a holistic analytics foundation, you’ll want to connect this tool to your CRM system and combine it with all the internal data you can get your hands on – from competitive intelligence to support tickets.
As the data flows in, keep an eye on the performance of each channel and optimize accordingly. Are customers more likely to complete certain survey types? Refine your approach to maximize response rates over time.
Step five: Extract and share actionable insights
With data now in hand, it’s time to mine for pressing customer issues, emerging needs, and untapped growth potential. Using text analytics, videos, and qualitative interviews to supplement hard metrics will provide even richer insights.
As Harvard Business Review so aptly tweeted, “Data without insights is meaningless, and insights without action are pointless.” So, you’ll need to take steps to realize actionable results.
If you spot any recurring pain points, do a little digging to identify their root causes and find a solution. It might be that a key touchpoint needs redesigning, or a customer service script needs readjusting. Whatever the case, make sure the relevant stakeholders are in the know.
And remember: no one likes a data dump. Be sure to lead with concrete recommendations and tailor your insights to each audience, whether leadership, product teams, or frontline staffers.
As you gather customer feedback, it’s easy to fall into the trap of focusing solely on fixing problems. But don’t forget to highlight the positives too, celebrating customer praise as it comes in.
Step six: Keep reviewing and optimizing
Finally, remember that capturing the voice of the customer isn’t a one-and-done kind of deal. Your VoC program needs to evolve and change with your organization. This means periodically revisiting your goals to make sure they still align with your company's progress and values.
Lean on your cross-functional partners to help keep your program up to date. That way, you’ll drive continuous improvement that benefits your whole organization. Plus, you’ll be able to seamlessly refocus on new priorities as they appear.
And that’s a wrap for our step-by-step guide to building a best-in-class VoC strategy. We’ve covered everything from deciding on objectives to gathering multi-channel data to sharing targeted insights across the organization.
The benefits for product marketers are as clear as day. Ownership of the VoC program earns you a coveted seat at the strategy table – not to mention happier customers, effortless marketing wins, and high-performing products.
Now the exciting part lies ahead – activating your own high-impact VoC machine. Remember, start small for big results. And enjoy watching the rewards roll in!
The learning doesn’t stop here!
If you're hungry to take your influence to the next level, get Advanced Product Marketing: Certified.
Offering over 35 hours of content, 100% self-paced learning, and real-world insights from product marketing leaders at Peloton, Microsoft, and Visa, this course is a goldmine for any senior PMM aspiring to excel.
Sign up now and build your product marketing prowess!