Using’Voice of the Customer’ for Competitive Advantage

In the competitive retail environment, merchants are always looking for a competitive edge. When you haven’t considered using”Voice of the Customer” (VoC) feedback, you might choose to give it a go.

VoC involves capturing and listening to what your clients are saying, in their own words in speech and text. It encompasses both solicited and unsolicited comments. Feedback may come from email messages, online chats, forums, social networking websites, surveys, and call centers. Ecommerce merchants can glean useful data from these listening posts. When used as a research methodology, VoC can help merchants in implementing enhancements suggested by clients.

While listening to clients has always been important, it’s vital in an environment where negative online product or business reviews can ruin a company. New ways for shoppers to review merchants are constantly popping up. Twitter did not exist 10 years back. Pinterest is less than five years old.

While listening to clients has always been important, it’s vital in an environment where negative online product or business reviews can ruin a company.

Well-managed companies will need to be both organized and ready to react to and act on client feedback. That means using a systematic feedback program set up with a procedure for how and when you respond to opinions, and the way you incorporate customer comments to your business plan. To be successful, companies need to listen and analyze the opinions in the context of business objectives, devise a strategy to respond to customer comments, and execute the strategy in a timely way.

Customer Experience Specialist Adele Sage in Forrester Research says in her blog,”In Forrester, we explain the continuous cycle of activities which make up VoC applications as: listen, interpret, respond, and track. ‘Listen’ is all of the customer feedback you are collecting via listening posts like polls, emails, calls, and comment cards. ‘Interpret’ is the analysis that you do on that feedback (along with other associated information ) to know what it means. ‘React’ is exactly what you do to repair the experience based on the analysis you have done, and’track’ is the way you make sure whatever you did to respond is actually working. It’s essential to go through the complete cycle with whatever data you are already collecting. Because here’s the hard truth: You get no ROI from hearing or listening. None. Zero. Zip. You only get business results from really improving the experience.”

What Can VoC Do for an Ecommerce Merchant?

While most unsolicited comments may be negative, once in awhile you get a compliment. Highlight what you did and try to replicate it. In actuality, merchants should see all comments as an opportunity to learn and improve. Often unsolicited remarks are the most revealing and useful since they’re not in a structured format (like a survey) ordered by the company. Sometimes 1 customer’s suggestion leads to new product features that many different customers want too.

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The benefit of using a software tool is that the elimination of silos of information — client service, marketing, and product silos are typical for ecommerce vendors. Integrating feedback from many channels provides for a general image that may provide greater insight and result in better solutions.

Use VoC to:

  • Discover customer satisfaction with their shopping experience.
  • Retain customers and increase market share by fulfilling their expressed desires. This boosts customer loyalty.
  • Boost efficiency by eliminating services and products that customers do not want.

Should You Buy a VoC Platform?

If your client base and the volume of opinions are modest, you might have the ability to handle and analyze feedback on your own without the advantage of a platform or applications. However, you should have the time and subject to examine the comments on a regular basis. Even though you are able to assign the analysis to a customer support representative, that person may overlook a crucial piece of feedback, not realizing its significance. Top-level managers have to get involved.

For those who have a large customer base, a prominent social media presence, and get a whole lot of opinions, a software or cloud solution would be cost-effective. The advantage of utilizing third party platform is that you get analytics tools such as reports, dashboards, and scorecards and visual effects which make it easier to spot trends. A third party platform or software also provides real time collection and analysis, something that’s critical if, for example, you sold a product that’s defective. From the time you find out about the problem by yourself, there might be hundreds of negative remarks on Twitter and Facebook and your company may not recover.

While lots of the software solutions are designed for large businesses, there are tools for small companies. Software covers both text and speech feedback. The address analytics component requires that phone calls with clients be recorded.

Among vendors that provide VoC or customer experience management software solutions for small companies are Allegiance, Mindshare, NICE, and Verint. For cloud-based social listening tools, visit “Social Listening: Advantages, Tools, Tips,” a previous post.

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