How VoC is Evolving with Consumer Needs

Customer expectations have never been higher, and supply chain constraints, inflationary prices, and labor shortages have never made it more difficult to meet them. If companies do not adapt and listen to customers, they will rapidly lose customers and revenue.

Customers want companies to know what they're thinking and cater to them on a personal level. To achieve this, businesses must leverage voice of the customer (VoC) methodologies. Put simply, VoC is the process of capturing and analyzing customer feedback about products or services. VoC can provide valuable context that influences product development, marketing campaigns, brand reputation, and customer experience.

VoC programs used to be limited to surveys and focus groups&mdash:methods that were unable to scale alongside digital transformations and expanding customer touchpoints. As VoC technology progresseses, companies can better understand and listen to customers and adjust business strategy to respond to customer needs. By 2025, 60 percent of organizations will supplement traditional surveys with cutting-edge, AI-powered VoC programs, including those that analyze voice and text interactions.

In today's digital world, successful VoC programs require all arms of companies to embrace technological advancements and evolve approaches alongside customer needs.

Limitations of Legacy VoC Tech

Companies have been soliciting customer feedback for centuries, primaily through surveys and focus groups. Both traditional methods have become outdated. Customers can experience survey fatigue, and surveys can be unintentionally biased. Focus groups require significant resources and are extremely limited in sample size. More important, surveys and focus groups cannot capture real-time, actionable feedback from the numerous customer touchpoints across the entire digital experience.

According to recent Harvard Business Review research, only 28 percent of executives say their organizations have a very good understanding of customer satisfaction across all phases of the customer journey. Any gap in visibility could impact customer retention. To truly understand customer needs, businesses must capture and analyze VoC feedback from every possible channel—email, surveys, social media, customer service calls, chat bots, live chats, public ratings and reviews.

This omnichannel approach must include internal and external touchpoints, and holistic analysis will become crucial. To categorize, assess, and prioritize customer pain points and needs, all interactions, including customer service calls, will need to be analyzed.

When developing business strategies, it is also valuable to analyze public-facing competitor VoC, namely product ratings and reviews. Insight into a competitor's customer experience could provide insights that help with benchmarking and guide decisions around pricing, product enhancements, and messaging.

Emerging AI Analysis Expands VoC Capabilities

Advancements in artificial intelligence (AI) have made it possible for businesses to analyze more VoC sources and customer touchpoints than ever. Real-time voice-to-text transcription technology has improved call analysis capabilities, while natural language processing, speech recognition, and image-processing algorithms have been implemented to significantly expand VoC raw data sources.

Through emerging AI technology, businesses can log and store omnichannel feedback for future analysis or conduct it in real time. Continual progress in the AI for VoC space will accelerate business success in the future. Microsoft research predicts that 95 percent of all customer interactions will happen through channels controlled by AI by 2025. This level of control will further support hyper-tailored customer experiences.

Crucially, AI-powered analysis tools,including digital experience intelligence platforms, provide actionable insights, sifting, categorizing, and consolidating thousands or millions of feedback data points from across channels to recommend key steps business should take.

As VoC technology evolves, the number of people who can access and meaningfully leverage VoC insights is growing. New tools are breaking down long-existing silos, providing a single source of data.

Now, VoC tech is being deployed and used by product, customer success, marketing, PR, data, engineering, and c-suite executives. Though data unification across channels can be difficult and require the right technical support, when all customer feedback data is stored in a single location, the quality of analysis improves. As a result, business leaders can better understand customer needs and prioritize initiatives based on clear, holistic data.

VoC is essential to improving the customer experience, which will have a notable impact on customer satisfaction, loyalty, revenue, and brand equity overall. Proactively addressing VoC feedback will help the omnichannel customer journey feel more intuitive to customers and reduce customer support calls/chats, freeing up critical resources.

However, VoC is a piece of a much larger customer experience puzzle. To truly understand the full scope of micro and macro issues, customer pain points, urgent needs and requests, businesses must combine VoC with other sources of customer data, aiming to capture 100 percent of digital interactions. DXI platforms can analyze VoC data alongside end-to-end digital platform metrics, including website traffic, mobile app performance, A/B testing, technical error, and historical user timeline information.

Armed with comprehensive data, business leaders can build better digital experiences with confidence, knowing they're not wasting resources by prioritizing the wrong thing.

Companies will need to innovate and adapt their approaches to VoC as customer expectations continue to shift. Disney has prioritized this by building teams dedicated to finding new ways to gather customer voices, including direct communications via app, email, or in-depth interviews. With VoC in mind, Samsung launched its live virtual assistant in 2020. The virtual assistant is a video-powered app that captures data from Samsung's many customer touchpoints, online and in store. Purina leveraged digital insights, including VoC, to improve customer experience, increase engagement, and help customers find the right products for their pets.

VoC methodologies will continue to evolve with AI advancements that support enhanced personalization. As long as businesses remain customer-obsessed and committed to truly listening to consumer needs, VoC will always spur success.

David Geffen is vice president of product marketing at Glassbox.