Product School

What is Voice of Customer (VOC) in Product Management?

Voice of Customer (VOC) in Product Management refers to the process of capturing, analyzing, and acting on feedback and needs expressed by customers to enhance product features, design, and overall experience, ensuring that products meet or exceed market demands.

Voice of Customer Explained for Product Managers

Why is it important for Product Managers to consider the Voice of Customer? 

Capturing the Voice of the Customer (VOC) in Product Management is akin to a ship's captain tuning into the whisper of the winds to navigate treacherous seas. Here's why charting your course with VOC makes a world of difference:

  1. Precision in Product Direction: VOC is your compass. If you understand what your customers truly desire, you can steer your product towards features and enhancements that resonate deeply with them.

  2. Efficient Resource Allocation: Instead of taking wild shots in the dark and wasting precious resources, VOC allows you to focus your time, money, and talent on initiatives that customers genuinely value.

  3. Cultivating Loyalty: When customers see that their feedback shapes the evolution of your product, it fosters a sense of ownership and loyalty. They're more likely to stick around and champion your product to others.

  4. Spotting Emerging Trends: The market is a fluid entity, always changing. Capturing VOC helps you identify shifting winds early, ensuring you stay ahead of the curve and adapt to new trends swiftly.

  5. Reducing Negative Surprises: By continually gauging customer sentiments, you're less likely to be caught off-guard by sudden market shifts or emerging customer pain points.

  6. Boosting Sales and Growth: Products that align closely with customer needs tend to perform better in the market. They get better reviews, more referrals, and thus, more sales.

  7. Enhancing Brand Reputation: A company that listens to its customers is perceived positively. This not only boosts brand equity but also encourages more candid feedback from users, creating a virtuous cycle of improvement.

Treat VOC like a guiding compass to ensure that your product is on the right path and is in tune with the people you aim to serve.

What role does a Product Manager play in capturing Voice of Customer?

A product manager plays a pivotal role when it comes to capturing the Voice of the Customer (VOC). As a product manager, you’re the primary listener to VOC, constantly attuned to the myriad voices of your customers. This involves actively seeking feedback through various channels, be it surveys, interviews, or feedback forums. Your aim is to ensure that every voice, every suggestion, and every critique is acknowledged and considered.

Once this feedback is gathered, product managers take on the mantle of an analyst. You’ll sift through the vast array of information, identifying patterns, understanding pain points, and spotting opportunities. 

However, the influx of diverse feedback brings its own challenges. Not all feedback can be acted upon immediately. As a product manager it’s essential that you prioritize. It’s your role to determine which suggestions align best with the product's roadmap, business goals, and available resources.

Beyond just gathering and analyzing feedback, a product manager is also responsible for conveying these insights across teams, from development and design to marketing and sales. When you ensure that every department understands the "why" behind product decisions, you bridge the gap between customer needs and organizational actions.

Your involvement doesn't end with merely implementing changes based on feedback. After changes are made, you’ll establish an iterative feedback loop by reconnecting with customers to validate if the alterations resonate, ensuring the product continually evolves based on real-world inputs.

In summary, it’s often the product manager who stands as the foremost advocate for the customer. When you keep the customer's perspective at the forefront of every discussion and decision, you guarantee that the product not only meets but often exceeds user expectations. In essence, through the VOC, a product manager ensures that the pulse of the customer guides and enriches the product's journey.

How do you capture Voice of Customer?

There’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to the methods of capturing VOC and each comes with its own benefits and challenges. Here’s a selection of them that you might want to consider for your product. 

  1. Surveys: These are essential tools for collecting structured feedback. When you ask direct questions, you can gauge customer satisfaction and gather insights about areas for improvement.

  2. Interviews: Conduct one-on-one discussions with customers. This method offers an in-depth understanding of their experiences, preferences, and challenges. 

  3. Focus Groups: Organize group discussions where participants can provide feedback about your product. It's a way to gather diverse opinions and reactions in a communal setting.

  4. Feedback Forms: Make it easy for customers to give feedback at any point. These forms can be placed on your website, within the product, or sent via email, allowing users to provide spontaneous comments.

  5. Usability Testing: Observe how customers interact with your product. This hands-on approach identifies usability issues, helping you understand the user's journey and areas of friction.

  6. Monitor Social Media & Forums: Keep track of online platforms where users discuss your product or related topics. This passive listening method gives you a pulse on general sentiment and emerging issues.

  7. Engage with Customer Support: Your customer service team frequently interacts with users. Regularly sync with them to understand common complaints, queries, and feedback.

What are some of the challenges of capturing the Voice of Customer?

While the rewards are plentiful, capturing the Voice of Customer isn’t without its challenges. Here are some of the common problems product managers face when capturing the Voice of Customer. 

  1. Volume Overload: As feedback rolls in, it can be overwhelming to manage and analyze. The sheer volume of information requires systematic processes to prioritize and act upon.

  2. Vocal Minority Influence: There's a risk of overemphasizing the feedback of a few outspoken customers, leading to a skewed perception that may not represent the majority's opinion.

  3. Ambiguity in Feedback: Customers may express general sentiments without pinpointing specific issues. This lack of clarity makes it challenging to determine actionable next steps.

  4. Surface-Level Metrics:  Relying solely on quantitative data without delving into the "why" behind it can lead to misguided decisions. Qualitative insights are essential to contextualize the numbers.

  5. Social Desirability Bias: During feedback sessions, some customers might provide responses they believe the interviewer wants to hear, rather than their genuine feelings.

  6. Evolving Customer Needs: The market and customer preferences are always in flux. Keeping VOC insights current and relevant demands continuous attention and updates.

  7. Resource Constraints: Gathering and analyzing VOC requires significant investment in terms of time, effort, and funds. Ensuring an adequate return on these resources is paramount.

  8. Confirmation Bias: Product teams, like anyone, can fall prey to seeking out and prioritizing feedback that aligns with their existing beliefs, potentially ignoring contrasting insights.

Addressing these challenges requires a well-thought-out strategy, adept tools, and a dedication to genuinely understanding and serving the customer base.

How do you build a Voice of Customer Strategy? 

While there are a number of ways to create a voice of customer strategy, which will depend on the size of your company, business objectives, and the product in question, here’s a framework you can use and adapt to your product.

1. Define Objectives:

  • Understand the reason behind implementing a VoC program. Do you want to increase customer satisfaction, reduce churn, or improve product features?

  • Set clear and measurable goals.

2. Identify Stakeholders:

  • Identify departments and teams within your organization that will be involved in the VoC process.

  • Get buy-in from decision-makers to ensure seamless implementation.

3. Choose Data Collection Methods:

  • Surveys: Useful for collecting quantitative data. They can be sent post-purchase, after a customer support interaction, or at regular intervals.

  • Interviews: For deep insights, consider one-on-one interviews with customers. These are qualitative and provide a deeper understanding.

  • Focus Groups: Engage groups of customers to discuss specific topics.

  • Social Media & Online Reviews: Monitor mentions of your product, and gauge sentiments.

  • Net Promoter Score (NPS): Measure customer loyalty with a simple question: "How likely are you to recommend our product/service to a friend?"

4. Implement Feedback Collection:

  • Select and integrate tools that fit your data collection methods. This could include survey platforms, CRM systems, or social listening tools.

  • Ensure your data collection methods are not too intrusive.

5. Analyze the Data:

  • Use both quantitative and qualitative data analysis for best results.

  • Look for patterns, trends, and recurring issues or compliments.

  • Prioritize feedback based on frequency and business impact.

6. Share Insights:

  • Regularly share findings with relevant departments: product, customer service, marketing, etc.

  • Ensure that insights are actionable. It's not enough to just present data; show how it can drive change.

7. Take Action:

  • Develop an action plan based on insights.

  • Address negative feedback or areas of improvement.

  • Reinforce what’s working well.

8. Monitor and Iterate:

  • Keep track of actions taken and their outcomes.

  • Re-evaluate and adjust your VOC strategy periodically to ensure its effectiveness.

  • Celebrate wins, and communicate the value of VoC to the broader organization.

9. Close the Feedback Loop:

  • When a change is made based on customer feedback, let them know. This fosters trust and shows customers that you value their input.

10. Review and Expand:

  • Over time, consider expanding your VOC program to cover more touchpoints or gather new types of feedback.

  • Continually reassess and refine your approach.

Voice of Customer in action

During User Research, we found through the VOC that customers were experiencing serious stress when trying to finalize their order with our app.

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