Using VOC to Determine the Online Customer Experience

By Shannon Belew, Joel Elad

Voice of the customer (VOC) and customer experience (CX) are two examples of terms that can lead to lingo uncertainty. In this case, it can be even more difficult to understand because these concepts must actually work together to be truly effective for your online business.

A VOC program provides a means for soliciting specific information or requirements from your online customers. CX represents all the interactions a customer has with your business throughout the customer’s entire relationship with your brand. You use all the VOC feedback you receive to help improve the customer’s experience. See, it’s actually pretty simple!

The customer’s experience with your online brand can begin well before you become aware that the customer is engaging with you. CX includes every point of the buyer’s journey, including awareness, consideration, purchase and loyalty. That’s why it’s even more important to understand what customers expect, so you have the opportunity to better influence their overall experience.

A bricks-and-mortar business has the advantage of being in front of its customers every day. Its employees can talk with the customer directly and ask questions like, “Were you able to find everything you were looking for today?” “Did anyone assist you?” “Was the store clean and were the products easy to see?” “Are you planning to shop with us again?” Similarly, if a customer has a complaint, suggestion, or general observation, it’s very easy for her to seek out a manager and give that feedback.

As an online business, you may have visitors who browse your site, even coming and going multiple times in a single day, and you may never know what they were looking for, why they never made a purchase, or why they kept returning but not spending. Without hearing from the customer, and with access to limited digital data, it’s difficult to make improvements to your website that are meaningful to your prospective customers.

Getting customer experience right matters. Research indicates that improving customer satisfaction across the entire buyer’s journey (all CX interactions) can result in a 15 percent increase in revenue and a 20 percent decrease in the customer service costs. Plus, positive customer experience leads to improved customer loyalty (and repeat customers). Interestingly, more than half of customers (and as much as 86 percent in some surveys) say they are willing to pay more for a better customer experience; yet only 1 percent of customers say businesses consistently meet their needs.

Delivering a consistent, positive customer experience across the online buyer’s journey requires the following:

  • Identify your customers. Understand who your customers are and what motivates them to buy. It’s helpful to create buyer personas that detail each type of customer you serve.
  • Get real-time customer feedback. When possible, collect data from your customers while they are in the process of interacting with you.
  • Include employees. Not only do you want to collect employees’ feedback about processes and customer interactions, but also they should be properly trained to deliver a consistent experience (whether that’s packing orders or servicing customers).
  • Improve technology. Your online customers frequently interact with you through the solutions you use (shopping cart software, inventory management systems, and online chat services, just to name a few). You must continuously invest in better, user-friendly technology that provides the best possible customer interactions.
  • Build relationships with your customers. You don’t have to be in a physical location to interact with customers; it also happens through e-mail, social media, community forums, and online chat. Use these interactions to form a positive bond with your customers.
  • Measure your success. How do you know if your efforts are working if you don’t track your progress? In addition to tracking website analytics and changes in revenue, follow up purchases and interactions with customer success surveys that allow customers that allow customers to quickly rank their satisfaction.

As you may have noticed, many of these requirements for delivering a good customer experience requires you to get information from customers — VOC. Managing the customer experience process and knowing where to make improvements can’t be based on your guesses (even educated guesses!) as to what’s important, or what may be broken — you must get information from the customer, based on the customer’s viewpoint.