Voice of the customer technology is the latest among the different ways in which businesses keep their finger on the pulse of their customer base. With the help of technologies like analytics and artificial intelligence (AI), voice of the customer can eventually become the primary source of market intelligence for businesses.
20 years ago in an interview, Jeff Bezos, the founder of a humble start-up named Amazon.com, emphasized his company’s focus on providing “great customer service” as their guiding mantra. That was the plan -- simply to provide excellent customer service. And the success of the multi-billion dollar enterprise today is a testament to the effectiveness of that strategy. There are numerous other examples of businesses that have thrived by making their customers their singular point of focus, understanding their needs and problems, and solving those problems -- profitably. Put simply, these businesses “listened” to the voice of the customer. And realizing this, businesses have been adopting different tools, technologies, and practices to gain a deeper understanding of their target customer base. From simple customer feedback forms to complex behavioral analytics, businesses are leaving no stone unturned to know what their customers want. And ‘voice of the customers’ technology is among the latest methods that businesses are adopting for gathering customer sentiments, feedback, and expectations.
Voice of customer technology is the set of processes and tools used to capture the customers’ sentiments, feedback, likes, and dislikes. The information gathered is used to provide customers with improved products and services.
The term ‘voice of the customer’ has already been used in the field of product development. In a product management practice known as Quality Function Deployment (QFD), the voice of the customer, i.e., the customers’ needs and expectations as expressed by the customers are translated into benefits and features of products. These translate into specifications and design requirements for the engineers and the manufacturers. These features are then Incorporated into the product design. Using such an approach during product development ensures that products developed are always designed to maximize customer satisfaction.
Voice of the customer technology is used for a similar purpose -- using customers’ feedback and opinions to improve their products and services.
Voice of the customer technology is being used by many leading businesses to gather data from customers through a variety of sources. These processes have include technologies like data analytics and, recently, artificial intelligence to translate the insights provided by customers into product and service quality. Following are a few ways in which voice of the customer technology is being used:
The best source of information for businesses regarding the efficacy of their operations in ensuring customer satisfaction is the customers’ personal feedback. Businesses, during different parts of the marketing and sales processes all for customer feedback. This may include gathering feedback through email, website, and also surveys. Customers voluntarily express their likes and dislikes regarding the different aspects of businesses’ products or services. The responses gathered through such mediums are used to derive valuable insights using data analytics. Businesses can also use artificial intelligence and natural language processing to make sense of the large volume of feedback and reviews received from customers and identify patterns that can drive product improvement.
In addition to analyzing the direct feedback received from customers, businesses also monitor the interactions of customers with the business. For instance, businesses can analyze the chat conversations between customers and customer care executives if the business to know what customers are interested in and what problems they consistently have.
Voice of the customer technology also includes social media analytics to gauge customer sentiment regarding brands as well as specific offerings. This can help businesses understand the general reception of their products among the mainstream audience. Businesses can use content analytics to gain market intelligence and understand trends that are relevant to their target demographics. With the advent of technologies like IoT, businesses can also analyze customer behavior when they are in contact with the business (e.g., a retail store) or while using the product or service. This can enable businesses to gain even deeper insights into customer needs and preferences.
Voice of the customer technology can be used by businesses as a way to guide both their strategic and operational decisions in a direction that ensures maximum customer satisfaction.
The primary purpose of voice of the customer technology is to improve a business's offerings. Voice of the customer technology and programs enable organizations to receive valuable feedback from customers that can guide product designers to build satisfactory products. This especially helps when voice of the customer is used before launching new products. Conducting customer surveys and along with them, the right questions can give product teams unprecedented perspectives while making product-related decisions.
Using voice of the customer technology enables businesses to respond better to customer needs in all situations. Thus, businesses are able to create great customer experiences. Using voice of the customer applications, businesses can deliver services that can cater to the specific needs of different customers, which helps in improving customer engagement and loyalty.
Nearly every industry is transitioning away from a transactional model where customer interactions were one-off occurrences. Most businesses, even those that sell physical goods, are now focusing on providing their customers with brand experiences instead of just packaged products. And offering customers a good brand experience requires a deep understanding of the customer's needs and demands. And what better way to get this information than from the customers themselves?
Actively listening to the opinions, reviews, and comments of customers and the general public can help burgesses understand the biggest and the most recurrent problems among their customers with their products or services. This can help them fix these problems in their products or services and ensure that these problems don't repeat again. This goes a long way in improving customer trust and loyalty. Additionally, businesses can also listen for their target demographic's problems and create whole new products to solve them, generating new revenue streams in the process.
Ultimately, using voice of the customer technology helps businesses stay agile in a highly dynamic market. Customer needs are evolving rapidly with time, and the businesses that are able to keep up with these demands are the ones that are thriving in any given industry. Knowing this, businesses are adopting voice of the customer technology to keep abreast of the changing customer needs and translating these needs into new product and service design specifications. This way, businesses are minimizing the chances of losing relevance and competitiveness.
Being the most direct source of information regarding market demand, voice of the customer progress and technology will see increased use in the future. With the development of technologies like AI, analytics, and IoT, businesses will have even better visibility into their customers’ psyche. However, information without timely action is useless, and hence businesses should also devise systems to respond to the voice of the customer in a timely fashion. To that end, the use of things like AI and IoT can be the real game-changers.
Naveen is the Founder and CEO of Allerin, a software solutions provider that delivers innovative and agile solutions that enable to automate, inspire and impress. He is a seasoned professional with more than 20 years of experience, with extensive experience in customizing open source products for cost optimizations of large scale IT deployment. He is currently working on Internet of Things solutions with Big Data Analytics. Naveen completed his programming qualifications in various Indian institutes.