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Voice of the Customer Strategy: A 6-Step Approach for Driving Awareness and Brand Equity

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It’s time for brands to think differently about the voice of the customer. Advocacy might be the last step in the customer journey, but the voice of the customer should be represented at every stage along the way — from awareness, consideration, and decision on through to retention and advocacy. By thoughtfully injecting the voice of the customer into public relations, marketing, sales, and support communications, brands can also pave the way for recurring revenue streams that maximize customer lifetime value. The following article provides a foundational framework for ensuring that insights gleaned from your voice of the customer strategy get woven effectively throughout the tapestry of your brand experience, strengthening relationships and illustrating firsthand the true power of partnership.

What Is a Voice of the Customer Strategy? 

A voice of the customer (VoC) strategy is the process by which a brand gathers and acts on customer feedback related to the brand experience. Common voice of the customer research techniques include interviewing, surveying, social media listening, support request auditing, and review monitoring. Collected voice of the customer data can be analyzed and used to develop and refine everything from a brand’s messaging, personas, and content to its products and services. 

Related Read – Leveraging Customer Surveys in Company Decisions 

Understanding the Importance of VoC 

According to Zippia, improved customer experience (CX) can increase company revenue by 10-15%. Since CX starts well before a purchase is made and spans the lifetime of an individual’s relationship with a brand, it is imperative that your public relations (PR), marketing, sales, and support communications authentically align with the preferences of your ideal customer. 

How to Effectively Build a VoC Program 

A lack of VoC strategic action can be attributed to various factors, including the need for C-Suite backing, fear of being overwhelmed by additional activities, and concerns about deprioritizing other initiatives. Still, finding time and space for VoC efforts is critical. Here are six key steps for building an effective VoC program: 

Step 1: Define Your Brand Personality 

Your brand personality encompasses the values and traits that both reflect your company’s identity and shape how it is perceived. 

To define your brand personality, consider the following questions: 

  • What are your core values and mission? 
  • How do you want customers to perceive your brand? 
  • What emotions do you want your brand to evoke in customers? 
  • How do current customers perceive your brand? 
  • What sets your brand apart from competitors? 

Use your answers to the questions to formulate messaging and positioning that differentiate your brand and educate the market about what makes your company unique. 

Related Read – How to Move From the Voice of the Customer to the Heart of the Customer 

Step 2: Establish Your Ideal Customer Profile 

An effective VoC program hinges on a deep understanding of your target audience. The goal is to identify your ideal customers in terms of fit for the products or services you sell, and then tailor your strategy to meet their needs, combat poor experiences, and build trust and loyalty. 

Start by analyzing your existing customer base to identify common characteristics, behaviors, and preferences. Consider factors such as demographics, psychographics, purchasing patterns, and communication preferences. This information will help you create detailed customer personas that represent your target audience segments. 

Once you have a clear picture of your ideal customer profile, you can tailor your efforts, be it thought leadership, messaging, or communication channels, to better resonate with their needs and interests, increasing the likelihood of bottom-line business success. 

Related Read – Missed Connections: Why Stories Don’t Find Their Audience and How to Fix It 

Step 3: Develop a Content Pillar Strategy 

A compelling content strategy is at the heart of any successful VoC program. Content serves as the fuel that powers engagement and drives advocacy. 

To develop a robust content strategy, start by identifying key themes or topics that align with your brand’s messaging and resonate with your target audience. These themes will serve as your pillars, providing a framework for creating and organizing your content. 

Also consider the customer journey stage:  

  • Did a customer recently purchase a product or service? Find out what the marketing-to-sales experience was like for them.  
  • Have they deployed or used the product or service yet? Inquire about the implementation or onboarding process as well as the user or service experience.  
  • Have they been a loyal customer for a noteworthy amount of time? Check back in to hear how the experience has been going and to potentially surface reasons to believe. 

Next, brainstorm a variety of content formats and channels that will allow you to effectively communicate your message and engage your audience. This may include blog posts, case studies, videos, social media posts, and more. 

Finally, develop a content calendar to plan and schedule your content in advance, ensuring a consistent and cohesive approach to engagement. 

Related Read – Content Building That Matters Most for Your Brand 

Step 4: Integrate Teams and Departments 

To maximize the impact of your VoC efforts, it’s crucial to break down silos and foster cross-functional collaboration across multiple teams and departments within your company. 

Start by identifying key stakeholders from the C-suite and departments such as marketing, sales, customer support, and product development. Encourage open communication between these teams, ensuring that everyone is aligned on goals, messaging, and objectives so that everything from executive thought leadership content to one-to-one sales and support emails — and your product and service experiences themselves — authentically reflects your VoC.  

Additionally, consider implementing technologies that facilitate collaboration and streamline workflows, such as project management platforms, CRM systems, and tools for asynchronous collaboration. 

By integrating teams and departments, you can leverage the collective expertise and resources of your organization to drive advocacy and achieve your business objectives. 

Step 5: Map a Measurement Plan 

To gauge the effectiveness of your VoC program and track its impact on your business and customer lifetime value (CLV), you need a comprehensive measurement plan in place. This plan should outline key performance indicators (KPIs) and metrics that align with your program goals and objectives. 

Some common KPIs for measuring VoC include: 

  • Net promoter score (NPS) 
  • Customer satisfaction (CSAT) scores 
  • Customer retention rates 
  • Organic customer growth (a.k.a. CLV) 
  • Referral rates and conversion rates 
  • Social media engagement metrics (likes, shares, comments) 

In addition to tracking quantitative metrics, consider implementing qualitative measures such as customer testimonials, case studies, and feedback surveys to gain deeper insights into customer sentiment and satisfaction. 

Regularly review and analyze your performance data to identify trends, opportunities for improvement, and areas where you can optimize your efforts for greater efficacy. 

Related Read – The Role of Data, Measurement & Research in Customer Advocacy 

Step 6: Budget for VoC Program Success 

While VoC initiatives can deliver significant returns on investment, they require resources, technology, and personnel to sustain momentum and drive results on an ongoing basis. 

When budgeting for your VoC program, don’t inadvertently overlook aspects such as: 

  • Hiring or training dedicated managers or coordinators to oversee program implementation and execution 
  • Investing in technology solutions that support VoC activities, such as survey apps, social listening tools, and reputation management platforms 
  • Creating high-quality content assets, including press releases, thought leadership articles, blog posts, videos, case studies, and social media posts 
  • Offering incentives or rewards to motivate and recognize your customers for their participation and contributions 

By allocating funds strategically, you can maximize the impact of your VoC program. 

VoC Is a Powerful Engine for Driving Awareness and Brand Equity in Today’s Competitive Marketplace 

Building and sustaining a successful VoC strategy requires careful planning, execution, and ongoing commitment. By following the six key steps outlined above – defining your brand personality, establishing your ideal customer profile, developing a content pillar strategy, integrating teams and departments, mapping a measurement plan, and budgeting for success – you can create an effective VoC program that boosts awareness, engages your customers, amplifies your brand reach, and drives long-term loyalty and advocacy for greater brand equity. 

Download ‘Managing the Empowered Customer: How to Build a Voice of the Customer (VoC) Program that Fits into your Marketing Formula’ for more tips on planning, integrating, and budgeting for customer advocacy. 

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