The Five Core Voice-of-Customer Feedback Channels: Pluses and Minuses

by | Sep 12, 2016 | Market Research

The marketing dictum to ‘listen to the voice of the customer’ has almost become cliché. It’s true that customer experience feedback is vital for improving a product or service. Yet rather than merely listen, you need to think about how you listen and whose voice you listen to. Understanding the pros and cons of different voice-of-customer feedback channels will help you to listen smarter. 

1. Customer Opinion Surveys

Customer opinion surveys are useful for segmenting customers that fit different personas (such as leisure and business travellers) and finding out how to cater to each best. Surveys are a quick and easy way to gather data that can yield real customer experience improvements.

There are minuses to customer opinion surveys too, however. A hasty online survey can yield misleading data. What seems like a global issue could simply be a handful of customers’ experiences and could have seasonal or other specific restrictions. Survey data can also be manipulated to suit individual analysts’ personal agendas.

2. Social Media Listening

Social media listening has many plusses. Many businesses monitor Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, both for what their own customers are saying and for what customers are saying about competitors. Social media listening can inform marketing as well as customer experience improvements since customers’ posts reveal what make different products or services best-in-class.

Social listening is great for finding out what customers value most about your brand or business. Yet social doesn’t provide a direct way to learn individual customers’ negative and positive perceptions, unlike opinion surveys. 

3. Mystery Ratings Or Reviews

In mystery shopper reviews, a shopper plays the role of a customer and measures service against a list of requirements. A plus of this type of listening is that you can measure the efficiency of your customer service and hear the opinion of a customer who is not known to service staff. This measure does not give insight into the customer experience itself, since the mystery shopper is told what to look for.

It’s not enough to simply deploy mystery shoppers with industry-specific objectives. For example, in the hotel industry, it’s usual for hotels to be judged on how attentive and familiar lobby reception is with guests. Yet at a luxury resort where guests desire privacy, discreet reception might be preferred.

To get the most out of mystery ratings, it’s thus crucial to devise a checklist specific to the nature of the business performing this customer listening exercise.

4. Reviewing Sites

Reviewing sites are often ignored in customer listening by businesses, but they present great learning opportunities. For example (in the travel industry), guests post pictures of accommodation on TripAdvisor. These images show resorts as they are rather than how they are edited to look on brochures. This means that resort owners can see how their amenities appear through guests’ eyes and take any necessary action.

There are few cons to using reviewing sites for customer listening. They can cut through your assumptions about what is important to customers and show explicitly what they deem important. You can also use reviewing sites to spy on competitors’ reviews and see what customers love about them and what they dislike. This can inform your own customer experience improvement strategies.

5. Personal Observation

Performing your own observations and assessments is also a crucial practice for improving customer experience and service efficiency. Thinking as the customer and ‘eating your own dog food’ (as the saying goes) is a crucial strategy. Sit in a high traffic area of your business and observe how staff interact with customers, how smoothly customers progress through early processes, and how staff interacts.

Personal observation and active, in-person monitoring is invaluable as it helps you spot inefficiencies and ways services can be streamlined for a better customer experience.

Understanding the strengths (and some minuses) of each of the above methods for listening to customers will help you strategise and make improvements that help elevate your business to the top of your field.

Contact us to find out how we can implement these practices in your business.


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