Product Experience

Voice Of The Customer: A Quick Guide For Product Managers

Irene Carline
May 22, 2022
min read
Voice Of The Customer: A Quick Guide For Product Managers
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hen selling products, there are one golden rule companies constantly strive to follow: the customer is always right. Yet, modern technological advances in today’s highly competitive market mean that customers now expect more than just a satisfactory product. They also expect constant innovation.

This is where you come in. As a product manager, you’re constantly in touch with customers. You know where points for improvement lie and can tell which innovations customers will welcome the most. Yet to be a successful product manager, one has to understand the customer’s voice (VOC) fully. Below is a guide that product managers like yourself can use to get started.

What is VOC?

The concept of VOC seems relatively straightforward. VOC covers customer experiences with your products by honing in on what they need and want in a product, what they expect, and what they prefer to see. Adequate consideration of VOC can be what sets you apart if you’re in an industry where there’s not much difference between your products and that of your competitors — as in agriculture and other similar fields. In reality, though, your understanding of VOC shouldn't be so simple. You need to remember that directly asking a customer what they want to see in a product isn’t the way to go. Most have only a surface-level knowledge of your industry. As a result, they may parrot already-existing product features back to you. If you take their cue, you’ll only end up with a me-too product: you'll exist in a competitive market where too many similar products reside. In other words, you'll lose your selling point. It’s important to remember that VOC is meant to give you a more accurate picture of customer needs and how your product meets them. Preferences, aversions, and expectations are guidelines that will help you get there. This is why customer feedback is crucial when looking to enhance existing products. As we'll discuss how to craft your VOC strategy, there are a few ways you can gather feedback without directly asking customers what they want to see.

Why is VOC important?

The Balances MB lists a few reasons why customers stop buying your products. One is that they might find your products inaccessible because they don't know where to buy them. The function of your products might be perceived as unnecessary as a banana slicer would be. Maybe your products target the wrong audience. For example, you may be promoting your men's products on men's sites — but women are the ones who usually buy these products for the men in your life.

These issues share one root cause: customers feel like you don’t value their input. Though you may come across proactive people providing valuable feedback, they likely make up only a tiny percentage of your customer base. It’s therefore crucial for you to focus on two things. First, tap into the silent majority of your customers by initiating conversations with them about your products. Their feedback will give you a better sense of how they interact with your product and what you can improve.

More importantly, have an open mind. Talent development experts LHH recommend building the foundations of a learning culture through reskilling and upskilling efforts. This can help foster a growth and learning mindset within yourself and your colleagues and give you the agility to quickly embrace the change that comes with today’s ever-evolving customer needs. Below are a few ways to incorporate these considerations into your VOC strategy.

Crafting your VOC strategy

Knowing the scope of VOC and why it’s so important to gather and incorporate feedback into product management, you may be wondering what you can now do to craft your very own VOC strategy. Here are a few tips you can try.

Make the feedback process engaging.

You can do better than the dull, traditional survey forms. Our dynamic and customizable survey builder shows that you can spice things up by gathering feedback via video, audio, or voice clips. However, it would help if you also considered approaching the feedback process in multiple ways to collect it more effectively.

For example, customer service representatives or simple chatbots can strike up fruitful conversations with customers right on your site. You can also harness the power of social media: these sites' built-in analytics tools and online tools like BuzzSumo can help you track talk on your brand across various platforms. This is an excellent opportunity for you to use your official social media accounts to answer their concerns and ultimately integrate them into future product iterations.

Another tried-and-tested method is the focus group. By offering a little incentive for participation, you can have multiple individuals converse about their experiences with your product — and, in a way, brainstorm possible activities for you.

Ensure feedback methods are accessible

One common thread running through all the methods discussed above is accessibility. If the link to your survey leads to another website other than the ones customers are currently on, they're likely to be discouraged from answering the survey altogether.

This is especially important to note when collecting feedback via social media. You’re effectively approaching the customer instead of the other way around by taking this step. This will not only help you tap into that silent majority we discussed earlier — it will facilitate genuine interactions with your customers and show them that you genuinely care about your input. Doing this is key to improving your offerings and enhancing customer trust and loyalty.

Leverage Big Data

At the same time, not all valuable customer feedback comes straight from the source. By going the quantitative route and using data analytics, you can gain insight into customer behavior and how it dictates their experiences with your products.

One way you can do so is through website analytics. Some key performance indicators or KPIs to look out for include traffic by source, the number of unique visitors, the average time people stay on your website, your most-frequented pages, and even how far visitors scroll down those pages. This helps you measure two things. Since the customer experience begins at the discovery phase, you can track how people discover your products and how you can improve that process. Second, you'll be able to see if customers visit your website to find help with using your products, pinpoint their concerns, and address these concerns moving forward.

You must check review sites to gauge customer response to your products in the same vein. For example, if you sell your items on sites like Amazon or Shopify, browsing through low ratings will give you a firm grasp of what you need to improve. These reviews can often get very detailed, giving you more information than usual than if you gleaned them from customers.

Integrate feedback into your product strategy

Managing products is a multifaceted process. That's why it’s vital to sort the data you glean from these channels by priority when creating your roadmap for product improvements.

Take, for example, a company that sells cleaning products. Say they gathered two main points of feedback: some customers stated that their formula is too weak, while others complained about the efficiency of the mister the product was packaged in. This company may decide to prioritize improving their formula over their packaging.

If you wish to get customers more involved in this process, you can go a step further by gathering further customer feedback on which improvement points they want you to prioritize.

Acknowledge customer concerns

The most crucial step in your entire VOC strategy will be letting your customers know that their feedback was heard and incorporated into future product iterations. If you're on social media, post a statement about upcoming changes to your products and how they tie into the feedback that you've received.

Similarly, you can gather customers’ email information who give input via survey or focus group. You can then let them know that improvements based on their suggestions are underway. When acknowledging, understanding, and integrating VOC into your product strategy, is the step that will help you improve your product and your customers' loyalty and retention.

Product management is a challenging job. By improving your knowledge of the VOC technique, you can take your outcomes to the next level.