The What, How, and Why of Voice of Customer (VoC) Market Research

Voice of Customer (VoC) is a formal market research process structured to ask questions, collect feedback, tabulate results, and take action based on customer data.

The program is designed to learn more from customers including their profile, their needs, their wants, and drivers to loyalty. Ultimately, VoC is a form of market research designed to better connect with customers.

In this blog post, our market research company will share the what, how, and why of voice of customer research. Plus, we'll share the details of a client project Drive Research completed with a manufacturing company.

Contact Our Voice of Customer (VoC) company for a free consultation on your research needs.

The What, How, and Why of Voice of Customer (VoC) Market Research

The Evolution of Voice of Customer Market Research

The Old Way

In the old days of Voice of Customer (VoC) research, everything was done by phone. Large call centers owned the world.

Cubicles upon cubicles of people would be dialing numbers and convincing people to take a phone survey. Callers would dial number after number completing 10 to 15-minute phone interviews to households and businesses.

It is easy to see how the timeline gets extended there and the cost increases quickly.

The New Way

With the acceptance and growth of mobile phones, tablets, and PCs over the past decade or two, it has completely revolutionized the market research industry.

Surveys can be done more quickly, less expensively, and more efficiently. The timelines have been cut down from months to hours.

The costs have been trimmed in half or more. Now because everyone has access to a cell phone, market research companies can work lists using phone calls, texts, and emails. All to one device.

When it comes to digital disruption, think about this analogy.

I saw a post on LinkedIn a few months back. It asked people to think back 20 years. We had 2 rules: 

  1. Do not get into the car with strangers.
  2. Do not talk to strangers on the Internet.

Fast forward 20 years and we are literally summoning strangers from the internet to get into their car and pay them money with services like Uber and Lyft.

How is that for change?

Types of Voice of Customer (VoC)

Types of VoC include both qualitative and quantitative market research. Qualitative market research is aimed at exploring while quantitative is aimed at measurement.

The two most common forms of VoC are surveys (quantitative) and focus groups (qualitative).

Other forms of Voice of Customer market research include:

How Does the Voice of Customer (VoC) Process Work?

The process at our VoC market research company follows a step-by-step process. It all starts with a proposal document which highlights the objectives, approach, timeline, fees, and deliverables.

The VoC process moves from kickoff to workplan, design, fieldwork, and then reporting.

The final report includes an executive summary with themes, recommendations, an infographic, customer persona, and an appendix of question-by-question results.

Why is Voice of Customer (VoC) Important?

There are several reasons as to why VoC is important to a business or organization. Voice of Customer research lays the foundation for strategy.

It is often used as a first step before a marketing plan is designed or a new strategy is implemented. Market research "quantifies the gut feeling."

Management may have gut feelings of who their customers are or why they act but without real data from customers, you can never be 100% sure.

VoC supports the theory that whoever knows the customer best wins.

In a competitive landscape, understanding the customer is crucial. It makes sure the feedback you receive from customers that explains their wants and needs can be integrated into strategy and decisions.

Voice of Customer studies ensure your decisions at a business are aligned with the needs of a customer. It's obtaining feedback from those who matter most.

At the end of the day, market research eliminates risk.

The Benefits of Voice of Customer (VoC)

Several benefits exist when an organization works with a VoC company.

1. Customer Profiling

The first is profiling and segmentation. Not all customers purchase a product or service for the same reason.

Collecting VoC helps you understand the demographics and behaviors of your 3 types of best customers, 5 types, or 12 types.

Understanding why customers buy, what makes them loyal, and why they choose your organization over other companies is critical data. VoC market research gives you an inside look into the mind of your customers.

2. Guide Budgets

Another benefit is using VoC to guide your budget. What if you knew how many of your customers were on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter. Or, how many watch TV, use Google search, listen to the radio, etc.

It becomes much easier to dice up your marketing dollars accordingly.

3. Build Content

An emerging benefit of VoC is to build content. Many organizations conduct industry surveys and decide to share the results in infographics and other press releases to share nuggets of information with news outlets.

This type of content can position your brand as a thought-leader in the space.

4. Measure Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

The last benefit is KPIs. Google Analytics and big data do a great job of explaining the "what" of the data.

VoC surveys or focus groups are an excellent way to provide depth around the "why". It provides additional detail and context for your marketing campaigns.

Voice of Customer studies can measure awareness, perceptions, likelihood to purchase, and many other key performance indicators.

Should Voice of Customer (VoC) Be Conducted In-House?

The largest benefit of conducting VoC in-house is the perceived cost savings. I say perceived because it will always take someone with less experience and skills longer to design a survey or write a report than an experienced market research consultant.

So what is the actual trade-off of time and cost?

The largest con of conducting the VoC in-house is bias. Your customers will likely not give you an honest opinion.

It's what we deem the "messy roommate bias". If you are looking for accurate and reliable feedback, particularly negative feedback, customers want to talk to a third-party.

The choice is a tough one. Perceived cost savings versus inaccurate or unreliable results.

Learn more about outsourcing market research vs. DIY market research.

Real-World Example of Voice of Customer Market Research

Recently, a manufacturing company hired Drive Research for a Voice of Customer (VoC) survey. VoC surveys are great at identifying strengths and weaknesses, insights to improve customer satisfaction, and insights to make marketing/sales efforts more effective.

In this section, our VoC market research company outlines the objectives, approach, and results of this VoC survey for a manufacturing company.

VoC Survey Objectives

The VoC survey addressed several core objectives. This included understanding how much the manufacturing company has improved with customers since the 2017 VoC study with Drive Research, exploring other changes made in the last 2 to 3 years, and remeasuring key performance indicators (KPIs). 

The survey also addressed other secondary objectives of the market research.

The survey gathered an honest perspective on these metrics through a third-party lens. The outcomes of the market research aided the client with operations, marketing, and strategy.

VoC Survey Approach & Results

To address the objectives at-hand, Drive Research recommended using an email survey to collect feedback.

These online surveys are far more cost-effective and timely than other methodologies such as a phone or physical mail survey. Most importantly, conducing an online VoC survey creates a strong ROI for our clients.

Fieldwork for the survey began on June 3 and lasted until June 26. The survey took an average of 6 minutes to complete and included 32 questions. The survey received 375 responses (2% response rate).

The reliability of this data is high. At the 95% confidence interval, the margin of error for these results is +/- 5%.

If the survey was conducted with another 375 random customers, results would yield within +5% or -5% of the totals 95 out of 100 times.

Check out these examples VoC survey questions!


VoC Survey Report 

The VoC survey report included the background and methodology, an executive summary of themes with recommendations, an infographic, customer personas, and the next steps for market research.

The appendix included a detailed question-by-question breakdown of the results.

The key findings and recommendations answered the following questions:

  1. How satisfied are customers with the manufacturing company?
  2. What drives satisfaction with the manufacturing company?
  3. How has the manufacturing company changed?
  4. How satisfied are customers with the manufacturing company employees?
  5. What matters most when customers select a company?
  6. How could the manufacturing company make ordering easier?
  7. What are the top sources of awareness for the manufacturing company?
  8. What else could the manufacturing company provide customers?

Other Voice of Customer (VoC) Case Studies

Are you looking for VoC case studies from our market research company? Here are several which speak to VoC objectives, approaches, and reporting. Visit the following links below for more information.

Interested in Conducting VoC Research? Contact Drive Research.

Drive Research is a Voice of Customer (VoC) market research company located in Upstate New York. Our team has worked on a number of projects with clients across the country in a variety of industries.

Wondering if we can help your organization with your VoC market research? Contact us through any of the four ways below.

  1. Message us on our website
  2. Email us at [email protected]
  3. Call us at 888-725-DATA
  4. Text us at 315-303-2040

emily taylor about the author

Emily Taylor

As a Senior Research Analyst, Emily is approaching a decade of experience in the market research industry and loves to challenge the status quo. She is a certified VoC professional with a passion for storytelling.

Learn more about Emily, here.

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