Here is a question: is the Voice of the Customer the same thing as the customers’ voice?

Absolutely not.

The Voice of the Customer is a specific research industry phrase that refers to a formal customer feedback program that systematically gathers feedback from a company’s customers. Most large and medium sized companies have these in place to one degree or another.

It’s a scheduled, defined process that seeks out input from customersor a scientifically based sampling of customers. And given that this is a random sampling process (meaning scientifically random, not just arbitrary), the companies are surveying a variety of types of customers.

Customer feedback needn't be a questionnaire...

They will get everything from those who are apathetic to super pleased to those ready to leave, which provides for more honest, well-rounded, accurate responses that will benefit the company immensely in deciding what kinds of changes need to be put into place to keep customers satisfied and referring.

A big point of misunderstanding that comes up when discussing Voice of the Customer programs is that often managers and business owners will say, “Why do I need some scientific study? I listen to my customers, and believe me, if they’re unhappy, they let us know!”

There is a deep-seated fallacy in this line of thinking.

For one, customer voice or customer complaint is not the same thing as a Voice of the Customer study. Not that listening to and fixing customers issues with your company is a bad idea; quite the contrary, you need to listen when a customer approaches you. But it will never garner the deeper, truly affecting information that you need to know. Mainly because of one axiom…when you have one customer who complains to you, you can guarantee there are exponentially more who feel the same way who don’t complain and perhaps just leave.  Also complaining customers typically represent only one type of all of the customers you serve.

Responding to complaints, while needed, isn’t reflective of the true silhouette of the problems your company might be having. You might have a couple of customers who live to complain and will complain no matter what the situation. Their complaints represent nothing except perhaps a deeper problem that needs to be addressed within those customers. But the cold fact is that most people or customers don’t complain at all; they just head to a competitor, and you’ll never know.

The beauty of a Voice of the Customer study or program is that it’s not a one-off hit-or-miss complaint department activity. It’s systematic, executed process that will unearth what really needs your attention in your company’s relationship with its customers.

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