What Is Voice of Customer (VoC)? The Complete Guide

In a highly competitive marketplace, how do you create products and services that customers love? The answer is to listen to what they’re saying—and that’s what voice of customer (VoC) research is all about. Read on to learn how to gather, analyze and act on VoC data in your business.

Voice of the Customer

Key takeaways

According to Deloitte, customer-centric companies are 60% more profitable than companies not focused on the customer. And in fast-moving industries where most products share similar features, delivering standout customer experiences is the key to getting ahead.

But to deliver better experiences, you need to understand the customer’s needs and perspectives—and that’s where voice of the customer research shines.

By actively listening to customers, you can improve customer retention, referral rates, reputation, employee satisfaction and more. It’s the reason why companies that use VoC best practices effectively grow their revenue by almost 10x year-on year.

In this guide, we’ll discuss the tools and techniques needed to implement a VoC program, so you can:

  • Make innovative products and services, or improve upon existing ones, based on deep user insights

  • Identify and fix weak points in the customer journey

  • Improve customer and employee loyalty

Let’s get started with a quick voice of the customer definition.

What is Voice of the customer?

Voice of customer (VoC) is the process of listening to what customers say about your business, and then acting on their feedback.

This can mean passively observing their comments across a range of channels—like social media, review websites or during support calls. It can also mean proactively engaging with users to get feedback via surveys, polls and interviews.

VoC data can be used in a large range of functions across your business, for example:

  • Product teams can use VoC to build their development roadmap around user needs.

  • Marketing teams can use VoC to create content and messaging strategies that resonate with potential customers.

  • Customer success teams can use VoC insights to proactively solve problems for users, improving the customer experience (CX).

Why is voice of customer important?

Most markets today are highly competitive, and customers have high expectations for the companies within them. They want products that are carefully built around their needs—and convenient, personalized services from the brands that deliver them.

Accordingly, businesses need to answer important questions about their users:

  • Needs: What problems are users trying to solve? What do they need help the most with?

  • Wants: What would make your users’ experience with your product more rewarding or enjoyable? What would make it a no-brainer for them to choose you over a competitor? What would turn them from a satisfied customer to a passionate ecstatic brand advocate?

  • Objections: What’s holding people back from making a purchase, or using your product more? What aspects of your service are inconvenient, annoying or badly matched to the customer?

You can only find answers to these questions—and many more—by actively listening to prospects, customers and users.

For many companies, it is so important that they start a company-wide VoC program.

Top 5 benefits of a voice of customer program

Most companies already utilize customer feedback, even if it’s just listening to customers on support calls.

But the magic happens when you have a dedicated VoC program for gathering and applying user feedback across departments. In fact, a Gartner study found that companies with a VoC program spend 25% less on customer retention than those who don’t.

Let’s look at the five main reasons voice of customer programs make a positive impact.

1. Gain a better understanding of who your customers are, what they like or dislike and why they use your product

Surveying, interviewing or reading reviews from your existing customers gives you deeper insights into who they are. In addition to validating (or invalidating) your user personas, this helps you make better decisions about which audiences to target.

VoC also helps you understand the reasons customers like or dislike your product, which can be invaluable in shaping your product decisions. And if you know which audiences love your product—and why—you can develop marketing campaigns to target them effectively.

2. Improve customer experience (CX) by identifying gaps that can trigger high churn

The customer experience relates to how your audience feels about your brand at distinct points in their journey. By gathering feedback at key touchpoints, you can learn which interactions and parts of the journey make customers more likely to churn.

For example, in your voice of customer program:

  • On-site customer surveys could reveal that customers feel frustrated after repeatedly waiting too long to speak to a support agent. You increase the number of agents and see an increase in customer retention.

  • Exit interviews could reveal that some users lose interest in your software platform after struggling to use a key feature. As a remedy, you update your onboarding process to show users how to navigate the feature properly.

Giving customers a platform to share feedback helps them feel valued and heard, which can also reduce churn.

3. Discover opportunities for improving overall customer satisfaction

Customer satisfaction is a measure of how well your product or service meets the customer’s expectations. VoC programs typically measure it with surveys that ask users to rate the company on a scale:

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You can further investigate customer perspectives by adding a follow up question that asks why the respondent gave the answer they did (as seen above).

Make VoC feedback instantly actionable

Use Glassbox to learn more about customers who gave a lower customer satisfaction score. With customer cohort analysis, you can analyze the journeys of specific groups who gave feedback and build a complete picture of customer sentiment.

> Discover Glassbox

4. Gain meaningful insight for product development

Product development is complex and costly, and you can’t afford to make changes based on guesswork. VoC research helps you understand what features and add-ons customers actually need, so you can innovate faster and win loyalty from your user base.

  • Talking to your customer support team could reveal the most common struggles customers ask for help with.

  • Feature request forms on your website allow customers to directly tell you what features they would like next.

  • Focus groups help you learn what solutions your audience compares you with and what features win them over.

5. Make internal and external processes more efficient

VoC programs aren’t just for customers—they’re also great for assessing relationships between departments, partners and employees.

  • IT teams can find ways to improve their service by asking internal “customers” for feedback about their helpdesk.

  • Companies with multiple branches can survey their teams to find new opportunities to collaborate better.

  • HR departments can give employees the opportunity to give suggestions and feedback on how internal teams operate.

These “voice of the employee” initiatives give everyone a chance to express their ideas, improving relationships and creating space to improve company processes.

How to capture voice of customer data

Gathering data from a wide range of sources empowers you to understand the user’s perspective across their entire journey.

Ideally, you’ll want to obtain both qualitative and quantitative data. By gathering metrics (like 1-5 ratings), you can track how customer sentiment changes over time. Next, use your qualitative data, like customer interview transcripts, to understand why.

Common voice of the customer examples include:

  • Social media: Search for your brand name to discover what people are saying about you and competitors. Alternatively, look for discussions on forums like Reddit to see how users discuss problems you could potentially solve.

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  • Online reviews: Check the reviews that users leave for you on your site—or on third party sites like Amazon, Trustpilot or software review sites like G2. Reviews reveal what users like and dislike about your product, and why they switched to or from a competitor.

  • Net promoter score (NPS): See how likely your customers are to recommend your product or service to a friend. NPS is a popular method for gaining quantitative data on how customers feel about your product or service. It involves inviting customers to answer a single question, “How likely are you to recommend us to a friend or colleague?” on a 1-10 scale.

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By asking this question, you can gauge how customers feel at different touchpoints, or track how your company’s average NPS score evolves over time.

Learn the why behind your NPS scores

With Glassbox, you can view session replays of users who gave low NPS scores and see how their journeys compare to those who scored higher.

> Discover Glassbox

  • Customer satisfaction (CSAT) score: This survey metric is similar to the NPS score, but it helps you measure overall satisfaction with your product or service. Ask customers “How satisfied are you with [product/service]?” then allow them to answer on a corresponding survey scale from 1-3, 1-5 or 1-10.

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  • Customer effort score (CES): This metric helps you quantify how easily customers can use your service. After a key interaction, ask them to respond to a statement like “[Your company name] made it easy for me to handle my issue” by selecting from a five-point scale.

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  • Polls and surveys: These are helpful methods for getting feedback from users at key moments—like when they just made a purchase or canceled their subscription. You can deliver polls and surveys via email, or alternatively, feature them in your app or website via survey software.

Get actionable insights with Glassbox

Integrate voice of the customer surveys with digital experience data to learn more about your users. For instance, view session replays that capture what the user did before and after leaving feedback.

> Discover Glassbox

  • Customer interviews: While they take more effort than other research methods, interviews can give you the deepest insights. Use them to learn what struggles and needs customers have, how they shop for solutions and why they leave.

  • Live chat: Your users are already revealing their experiences, needs and doubts in chats with your support and sales teams. Go through chat transcripts regularly to identify trends and see how users describe issues.

  • Call center transcripts and recordings: Just like live chat, your call center data reveals what users say about their needs and challenges.

  • Support tickets and emails: Users will often get in touch when there’s a problem, or when they need something important. Look for common themes in their requests so you can identify ways to improve your product, service or support resources.

  • Focus groups: Structured group interviews let you explore specific topics with customers (or people in your target audience). Use them to answer important questions—like how users shop for products in your market or what they need from your service.

  • Talk to customer facing employees: Team members that speak with customers regularly likely understand them better than anyone else. Get their input on what customers want, where they get frustrated and what questions they ask.

How to build a voice of the customer program: 5 steps to success

To be effective, your VoC program will need collaboration from multiple departments, plus data from a range of sources. The process can be pretty complex, so we’ve broken it down into five steps below.

1. Set goals

Start your program with a clear and measurable success metric in mind—for example, achieving a 5% boost in customer retention by the end of Q4. With this goal as your starting point, you can then decide:

  • What questions do we need to answer with our VoC data?

  • Which research methods will help us get the answers?

  • Which VoC tools will simplify the process?

It usually makes sense to look at a blend of both quantitative and qualitative data, so you can identify trends and the reasons behind them. But you don’t have to measure every possible metric initially—instead, start simple and evolve your program over time.

2. Gather customer feedback

In the next step, set up any tools and processes you need to start gathering VoC data. Some VoC methods will require more groundwork, like recruiting participants for focus groups or setting up thank you page surveys.

In this stage, it’s also helpful to decide how much data you need before you can begin your analysis. In particular, if you’re using quantitative data (like NPS scores), ensure you’re gathering enough to ensure your results are statistically significant.

3. Analyze the feedback

Once you have enough data, you can start analyzing it in a way that answers your initial questions. For example, if your goal is to improve customer retention, you might:

  • Segment your data to identify trends in how different user segments churn.

  • Look at NPS scores across each customer journey segment to look for “leaks” in the customer experience.

  • Drill down further by referencing qualitative data (like customer support chats and responses to surveys) to learn what frustrates customers at the weakest points in their journeys.

Once you’ve completed your analyses, deliver clear and actionable insights to appropriate internal stakeholders.

4. Act on the feedback

Get to work making improvements, whether that means rolling out a quick fix to an onboarding sequence or creating a department-wide coaching program.

Because your VoC program will probably be ongoing, you may want to develop a formal process for taking action. For example, start categorizing feedback according to which teams it affects—i.e. product, marketing or customer support. You can then hold regular reviews and decide what steps you’ll take next.

Finally, it’s good practice to “close the loop” with customers by letting them know you resolved their problem or made improvements.

5. Monitor the results on a continuous basis

After acting on feedback, assess your primary KPIs, like customer retention or revenue, to gauge the success of the VoC program.

Next, compare any results to your VoC metrics, like CSAT scores, to find out what difference your initiatives made.

Even if your VoC program didn’t create the initial results you wanted, you’ll still have an idea of how your initiatives affected customer satisfaction. You can then use these insights to fine-tune your strategy as you continue.

What voice of the customer tools do you need to get started?

Current VoC software ranges from simple survey tools to advanced platforms that use AI to translate user actions into quantifiable feedback. We’ve rounded up our top picks:

1. Glassbox

Glassbox is a digital experience intelligence platform that helps you discover what your customers do and why.

Its voice of the customer tool allows you to connect what customers say with what they experience. For example, when customers leave low feedback scores on your website, you can use session replay data to learn more about what happened.

Glassbox also integrates with popular VoC tools to unite all your feedback and performance data in a single dashboard.

2. Medallia

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Medallia is an enterprise experience platform that helps you get a 360-degree view of customers.

Its suite of tools helps you gather VoC data from a range of sources, including social media, voice transcripts, ticketing systems and survey responses. Medallia’s AI and machine learning-powered data analysis helps you not only understand audiences, but also predict their behavior.

3. SurveyMonkey

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SurveyMonkey is a feedback management platform that lets you create AI-powered voice of customer surveys and forms.

The platform gives you flexible options for obtaining feedback, including presenting surveys via web links, email, or forms embedded on your website. It includes ready-made templates to help you measure NPS, customer satisfaction, employee satisfaction and more.

SurveyMonkey also features simple built-in reports and customizable dashboards to help you analyze data and share it with colleagues.

4. Qualtrics

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Qualtrics is an experience management platform that helps companies to understand

customers, employees and the wider market.

Its VoC tools let you listen to customers across countless sources including email, chat,

surveys, team collaboration tools, review sites and more. Plus, it can analyze videos and

calls to understand both the emotions and perspectives of the speaker.

Qualtrics also features advanced social media tools that can aggregate likes, posts, mentions

and more to uncover hidden trends.

Limitations of a standalone voice of customer tools

Standalone voice of customer tools can be helpful when you’re getting started. They’re generally easy to set up, and they allow you to quickly start gathering feedback via surveys and polls—which is pretty exciting!

So what limitations do they have? Well, VoC tools rarely give context to the user’s feedback. For instance, they won’t show you:

  • What performance issues the user was experiencing

  • What parts of your app or website they interacted with

  • What audience segment they were from (depending on the tool)

So while VoC tools can be helpful, you need to combine them with other data to get a holistic picture of the customer experience.

3 benefits of integrating your VoC tool with a digital experience intelligence platform

Your customers’ words can reveal incredible insights—but their actions are just as important. Digital experience data helps you track their behavior and deepen your customer insights in three key ways:

1. Hear the voice of the silent majority

Some studies report that just 7% of users typically provide VoC feedback. So if 93% of your users are silent, how can you be sure that your VoC data is representative of your audience?

This is where digital experience intelligence (DXI) tools like Glassbox come into play. A DXI tool can translate user behavior during interactions into quantifiable feedback. In a CX capacity, this means you can uncover VoC through the user behavior and actions of the silent majority, rather than words and reactions fo the vocal minority. Learn more in this recent blog post.

2. Get more context on VoC feedback

Some users will leave feedback when they have less-than-great experiences in your app or website. But if you can’t see what they experienced for yourself, the feedback is rarely helpful (or even understandable).

With a digital experience intelligence platform, you can link feedback with other customer data points. For example, Glassbox allows you to instantly replay the session of any customer that left feedback. By learning what they did before and after leaving feedback, you can better understand what help they need.

3. Understand each stage of the customer journey

Typically, standalone VoC tools only function in set places. That means if you only set a survey to appear on your home page, you won’t gather customer feedback on your support pages.

This can be problematic when you need to make a sudden change in your strategy—but then have to wait months for VoC data.

With DXI tools like Glassbox, you continuously gather data about every part of the customer journey on your app or website. Plus, Glassbox can trigger feedback by live experience as it happens, so you gather VoC data where it matters most.

Learn more from your VoC data with Glassbox

Glassbox gives you a complete view of the digital customer experience, so you can make more sense of your VoC data.

Identify behavior trends using funnel analysis, performance analytics and customer journey analytics. Then take a closer look at customer experience “leaks” with struggle detection and session replay—and learn the why behind your VoC data.

> Discover Glassbox


Frequently Asked Questions about Voice of the Customer (VoC).

What is the definition of voice of the customer?

Voice of the customer is the process of capturing feedback to learn what customers think of your company or service. This includes both asking them directly for feedback and observing existing conversations involving your company. The goal is to understand your customers’ needs, expectations and experiences.

What are voice of customer metrics?

Voice of customer metrics are numerical measures of how customers feel about a company or product. For example, you could ask customers to rate from 1-5 how satisfied they are. By tracking customers’ average score, you can learn how customer sentiment changes over time or between groups.

How do you capture VoC data?

VoC data can easily be captured by using software like online surveying tools or social media analysis platforms. For some research methods, such as customer interviews, you might take notes manually. However, recording your VoC data digitally makes it easier to compile, analyze and share later.

What are voice of the customer tools?

Voice of customer tools are software platforms that help you gather and analyze customer feedback. For example, survey tools let you invite customers to answer questions on your website. More advanced tools might help you analyze social media posts or identify trends in customer support requests.