Gathering customer feedback is a good first step toward customer-centricity. However, to truly become a customer-focused company, you need to share customer feedback across the entire organization, then use it to inform your overall strategy. That’s where voice of the customer (VoC) comes in.

What is the voice of the customer?

Voice of the customer (VoC) is a process for collecting customer feedback and then organizing and sharing it internally across the organization. VoC helps companies:

  • Understand the why behind their customers’ feedback
  • Identify what customers need and want, and what their pain points are
  • Synthesize feedback and share it in a way that can inform the different areas of the business

Why is the voice of the customer important?

Collecting customer feedback is the most reliable way to understand where a product is performing well, and where there are gaps that are stalling growth. But all too often, customer feedback gets lost in a black hole, amassed but not synthesized; everyone in your organization may already be sold on the proposition that collecting feedback is incredibly important, but after the initial thrill of collecting responses from disparate polls, surveys, reviews, and interviews, the work of translating insight into action can fall flat. That’s where a VoC program enters.

The real way to “reap the rewards of customer feedback,” is to invest in “an effective and complete system to measure the experience of the customer journey,” say McKinsey analysts. VoC is a way to operationalize what customers say. Whether it’s feedback collected in the product, on sales calls, or through support channels, VoC is the system that companies use to distribute the feedback to all internal stakeholders.

How to build a voice of the customer program

Set the vision

A VoC program aligns an entire organization around a maniacal focus on the customer. The first step is to welcome feedback at every turn. Make feedback collection a part of every team’s mandate, and make it exceedingly simple for customers to provide feedback in the product and beyond.

Prioritize

Not all feedback is created equal, nor should it be treated as such. Just because a company embraces feedback, doesn’t mean its customer success managers have to react to every gripe or suggestion that comes their way. Choose a tool that helps the organization understand how common certain feedback is, how important it is to the customer, and how prepared the team is to act on it.

Close the loop

Finally, successful VoC initiatives include a feedback loop that includes customers who have provided input to the brand. It acknowledges customers have been heard and conveys how the organization is planning to address their concerns.

Kajabi, for example, created a customer feedback portal inside their product where users could submit feature requests and vote on those submitted by others. Thousands of users engaged with the portal and this feedback helped multiple teams across the organization better understand what their customers needed from the product.

Recommended reading

Incorporating the Voice of the Customer Into Your Company Culture” by Devon Golla

VoC should not be an afterthought — it should be a key part of your company culture. Incorporate the VoC into every aspect of your organization with these eight strategies.

Wootric’s Deepa Subramanian on Measuring the Voice of the Customer” by Dee Reddy

In this episode of the Intercom podcast, Wootric co-founder Deepa Subramanian discussed the importance of creating a customer-centric company culture and shared best practices for crafting a VoC program.

Launch a Voice of the Customer Program in 5 Steps” by Brennon Slattery

It’s not enough to simply listen to your customers. You need to have a structured program for gathering, organizing, and analyzing customer feedback; and finally, a strategy for putting customer suggestions into action.

Assuring ‘Voice of the Customer’ in Development and Design” by Cathy Mabe and Carolyn M. Newell

How do you get started gathering customer feedback? It needs to start at the product design and development phase. This article from Pragmatic Institute dives in the nitty-gritty of incorporating VoC into the build process from the very beginning.

12 Voice of the Customer Methodologies to Generate a Goldmine of Customer Feedback” by Ruchika Sharma

This article from Hubspot goes through the basics of voice of the customer methodology and describes 12 best practices for getting your customers to open up and share their feedback.

About the Author

Hannah Chaplin is a serial entrepreneur turned director of product management. Most recently, she co-founded SaaS company Receptive, which was acquired by Pendo in early 2019. She enjoys spending time with her family, being outdoors, mountain biking, and camping.