Ultimate Guide to Voice of Customer (VoC) Market Research

September 22, 2017

Ask and you will receive from Drive Research. Here is your Ultimate Guide to Voice of Customer (VoC) market research from our company in Syracuse, NY. In this guide we'll give you all of the details on VoC.


You likely have a lot of questions. Perhaps you came across this post because you are thinking about some VoC market research or customer survey for your organization?


We'll explain why VoC is so valuable and why it is one of the most popular forms of market research. For starters, it's cost effective, timely, and offers a strong ROI. These benefits create a tremendous amount of value for those who choose to implement a VoC program at their company.


Here are some of the topics we'll cover. What is it? What are my options for methodologies? How does the process work? How often should I conduct VoC research? What are the VoC market research deliverables? Why is it important and what are the benefits? Should I use a third-party VoC company? What is the cost of VoC?


All of these questions and more will be answered for you as we take a deep dive into the world of Voice of Customer market research. After all, we don't call it the ultimate guide for nothing.



Voice of Customer (VoC) is based on the foundation and principle of listening to your customers. You ask about their needs and wants, analyze their feedback, and take action to improve the Customer Experience (CX). Seems almost too simple right?



What is VoC?

Voice of Customer (VoC) is a form of market research where the survey, focus group, or interview is directed at learning about the needs, wants, and drivers to loyalty of your customers. VoC is just as it sounds: listening to your customers, collecting feedback, tabulating feedback, running analysis, making recommendations, and taking action based on the VoC.


The education of VoC schools you to align your company's marketing, operations, and strategy with the needs of your customers. As a result, customers are happier because they get the experience they are paying for, and businesses are happier because of improved customer experiences, less pain points, and higher revenues.



What Methodologies Can I Choose From For my VoC Market Research?

When it comes to VoC, you have several options to choose from. The important part is that you are talking to your customers and learning from them. So any methodology you choose is better than doing nothing.


We'll cover 3 of the more common quantitative VoC methodologies here:



Option 1: Online Survey (or Email Survey)

The first option here is often your best option. This assumes you have a collection of email addresses for your customers or a heavy social media following on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn. The cost advantage of VoC over other types of market research is the ability to utilize an in-house list to draw survey completes.


Any type of image and awareness, brand equity study, or competitive study will force you to find non-customer sample. This may include paid social media advertisements or online panel usage where you pay per complete.


The disadvantage of online surveys is it's passive communication. You are at the mercy of how or much or how little a customer is willing to type. This engagement can be increased through a well-written survey script. 



Option 2: Telephone Survey

Where online surveys rely on passive communication, telephone surveys rely on 2-way communication. An interviewer and an interviewee or respondent. The depth of feedback and open-ended comments are often greater with a telephone survey.


However, a telephone survey is more costly. With email surveys it takes 1 click to send out 10,000 survey invites. With a telephone survey it takes 10,000 calls to do the same. This can take multiple interviewers and often multiple weeks to complete.


Surveys are run through computer assisted telephone interviewing (CATI). This is a system that programs surveys into a computer to assist interviewers with typing comments and helps them follow the right skip patterns. Virtually an online survey to collect survey completes by phone.



Option 3: Mail Survey

Yes, even snail mail is still an option. Many financial institutions take advantage of this methodology because of specific stipulations or regulations about not contacting customers or members through email. Here, you format a survey on paper to mail to households and offer a prepaid return envelope for respondents to mail back responses. This is likely your most expensive option.


Costs are driven up by data entry. It also can take up to 4 to 6 weeks (or more) for responses to stop trickling in. Among the 3 options, this is least likely to be utilized for Voice of Customer research.



Several methodologies to choose from. The choice is yours.



How Does the VoC Market Research Process Work?

The Voice of Customer process is fairly straightforward. It is highly engineered and task-oriented moving from Step 1 through Step 7. These steps are explained in more detail below.



Step 1: Kickoff

All great things start off with a kickoff, even the SuperBowl. This should be a meeting (either in-person or by phone). Here, get your stakeholders together to discuss objectives, expectations, and what types of action you would like to take from your VoC results. Prepare an agenda. It will keep everyone on-task.



Step 2: Workplan

This becomes your driver's manual for the project. Develop a workplan which highlights the timeline, tasks, and responsible parties. This is important to keep everyone in the loop throughout the process and help people involved in the VoC to understand where everything stands.



Step 3: Survey Design

This is the most important step of the Voice of Customer process. This is when you or your VoC market research company takes all of the feedback from the kickoff and translates the objectives into survey questions. The survey design addresses flow, logic, skip patterns, and eliminates bias. If your VoC survey is not professionally written, your results will suffer.



Step 5: Programming

Once the survey document is finalized, it is then programmed into your online survey software. Here are some benefits an advanced survey tool can provide an organization. The programmed version is often shared with the client for testing. The survey also goes under extensive testing with the VoC market research company.



Step 6: Fieldwork

Once the survey is programmed, tested, and finalized, your next step is a test drive or soft-launch. Take 1% of your customer sample or 100 contacts and send the invitation to the survey to test return. Here you can head-off any issues and make corrections before you open up full fieldwork.



Step 7: Analysis and Reporting

The last step is after fieldwork is closed. Then the fun begins with the analysis. Cases often have to be cleaned up and edited for completeness and quality. Once the data file is ready, the VoC market research company prepares charts and graphs, creates a themed executive summary, and most importantly, adds interpretation, insight, and recommendations from the analytics.



How Often Should I Conduct VoC Market Research?

This is dependent on your needs. When it comes to VoC market research you have several options for longevity of the program. Here are 3 examples.



Option 1: Ad-Hoc

Ad-hoc VoC is market research that is a one-time project. Perhaps you have a new product launch and you need to receive feedback on likelihood to use, price, and use some conjoint questions to understand appeal of packages. This would be an ad-hoc VoC project that is conducted once before product launch to address specific objectives.



Option 2: Periodically

The easiest example here is conducting a customer loyalty survey on a yearly basis or every 18 to 24 months. Using periodic VoC ensures you are reaching out to your customers on an infrequent yet regular basis to understand Net Promoter Score (NPS), drivers to loyalty, ease of doing business, and likelihood to switch. These key performance indicators (KPIs) must be measured regularly without over-surveying customers.



Option 3: Continually

Continual VoC would be classified as transactional surveys or monthly surveys. These pop-up as part of a large CX program at a company. Transactional surveys are defined as surveys sent out after a sale occurs, after a shipment arrives, or after you place a call to a customer service representative. These transactional surveys are sent out to continually measure and monitor the customer experience.


Another example here is monthly satisfaction surveys at a bank or credit union. Here the financial institution sends a survey to any new account holders or those who open a new loan.



VoC can be ad-hoc, periodic, or continual.



What Are the Deliverables?

You might be asking, what are the tangible items I'll receive from a VoC market research project? It's a fair question. Market research is a service-oriented model with a few tangible product deliverables. Here we'll explain the 2 main final deliverables and products you would receive from a VoC market research company at the end of the fieldwork.