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GuidesCustomer researchWhat is the Voice of the Customer (VoC)?

What is the Voice of the Customer (VoC)?

Last updated

25 March 2023

Reviewed by

Miroslav Damyanov

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Which option sounds more appealing: making design or product changes based on direct feedback and opinions of your top customers, or trying to guess what they want without real data?

Hopefully, the answer to this question is simple—customer feedback is one of the most valuable resources that can be leveraged by your brand for long-term success and growth. 

In a recent 2023 study of over 1,900 businesses, 45.9% of respondents ranked customer experience as their number one priority over the next five years—ranking as the most popular top priority over both pricing and product. 

As more and more companies shift their focus to customer experience, listening to your customers has become essential at every level of your business. When used correctly, direct feedback from your customers will offer many benefits—from reducing wasted resources and increasing ROI to minimizing customer complaints and enhancing your brand’s performance.

You wouldn’t stand for one-way conversations in your day-to-day life—so why would you take this approach with your business? Learn about the many benefits of voice of the customer programs and explore how you can start collecting customer information as soon as tomorrow in this helpful blog.

Let’s get into it!

What is the voice of the customer?

The voice of the customer (VoC) is a term used to describe the overall perspective that your customers have towards your business, products, services, and brand.

Highlighting your customers' experiences, preferences, pain points, and feedback, the voice of the customer is a valuable resource that you can use to improve your company’s offerings. When used correctly, the voice of the customer will act as a north star for your business—guiding you down the correct path for product updates, new service launches, and brand redesigns that will appeal to and satisfy your customers.

To collect information on the voice of your customers, you can use UX research techniques such as text analysis, customer surveys, and sentimental analysis. As an essential component to successful brand growth and marketing, voice of the customer programs have become an integral part of modern user research projects—something that you shouldn’t skip if your company is looking for the best possible results.

Learn more about customer analysis software

Why are voice of the customer programs important?

Gone are the days of companies blindly deciding which services or products to offer based on guesses and assumptions about their target audience. Instead, through diligent and detailed customer research, the guessing game has been eliminated—making way for a more collaborative approach that factors in the unique voices and opinions of the customers.

By choosing to listen to the voice of the customer, your company will notice significant benefits, including:

  • Gaining a better understanding of your customer’s experience. How do your customers interact with your brand? Is there one service, product, or design choice that has a more profound impact on their experience, either positively or negatively? A voice of the customer program can help you answer these important questions.

  • Collecting data on your customer’s needs and wants. Your top customers often have valuable information about the path forward for service and product adjustments or launches. Listening to their feedback is an effective way to ensure that any proposed projects actually benefit and are appreciated by your target audience.

  • Reducing wasted time and resources. Avoid needlessly wasting time and resources on ideas that aren’t aligned with your customer’s true needs or wants. Instead, using a voice of the customer program helps to ensure that you minimize loss in revenue (and time) on your next project.

  • Improving your customer’s loyalty and satisfaction. When you have a better understanding of your target audience, you can offer a better customer experience. When used correctly, this helps to improve brand loyalty and will increase the number of satisfied customers returning to your business.

How companies are using VoC to change the business landscape

As more and more companies factor their customer’s feedback into their working systems, a noticeable shift occurs within many leading global businesses. 

By focusing on the voice of the customer, your brand will not only experience benefits in your upcoming projects but also in the following areas of your business: 

Strengthening internal leadership

Successful services and high-quality products start with customer-focused leadership at every level of your organization. Ensuring that all of your key stakeholders (from C-suite executives to project managers and designers) are on the same page with providing a high-quality customer experience is made more accessible when your business integrates voice of the customer programs into your working philosophy. 

Strong leaders know how to put the customers first—and as a result, this practice will ensure that you make every decision throughout a project with the customer’s best interests in mind.

Boosting team member engagement and collaboration

The best work comes from teams with high levels of collaboration and engagement—something you can facilitate by voice of the customer programs. As your team works together to incorporate customer feedback into your projects, an increased sense of participation and communication is fostered within your business, resulting in higher-quality products and services.

Improving company vision and clarity

Customer feedback should act as a guiding light for all future company projects. As the primary users of your services and products (and as the experts of their own experiences), integrating the customer’s voice into your company’s mission and vision is a great way to keep their needs at the forefront of every project.

Fostering better listening and learning

Actively listening and learning from your customers is a learned skill that can take time to master. By collecting customer data from a wide range of platforms and sources, your team will begin developing a better understanding of the unique wording and phrases used by your target audience in relation to your brand. Also, if the general sentiment towards your company begins to shift, your company will be better equipped to manage this (and will be able to notice the change sooner rather than later!)

Practicing alignment and taking better action

Organizing a team to work towards a common goal is not always an easy task. By integrating the voice of the customer into every level of your business, future decisions about product launches or service changes become easier to make, as everyone will be better aligned on the overall big-picture goals of your company. 

Enhancing patience and commitment 

Just like anything else, deciding to commit to better customer service takes time, effort, and patience. As a never-ending process that will ebb and flow as your brand grows and expands, it will take time to infuse your current company culture with the essence of the voice of the customer. And that’s ok! 

Instead of rushing the process, take this opportunity to work with your team members and colleagues to slowly but methodically approach this change—and as a result, you’ll notice both short-term and long-term wins from your efforts.

Things to consider before building a voice of the customer strategy

Now that you understand the importance and value of utilizing a VoC program as part of your customer research process, there are a few key points to consider before jumping straight into surveying your customers for data.

Before choosing to build a voice of the customer program for your next project, no matter the size or scope of your business, be sure to have concrete answers to the following three questions:

What are you trying to achieve by launching a VoC program?

Generally speaking, businesses have two primary reasons for using a voice of the customer program: benchmarking their current services and products and continuing improvement of existing offerings. The type of results you’re looking for will impact the layout and questions used in your VoC surveys.

As the early stage of a comprehensive research project, using a VoC to collect benchmark data is essential for having something to compare to as you continue to grow and change. Questions for this type of VoC project will focus more on learning about your customer’s current preferences and pain points.

On the other hand, you can also use your VoC program to learn more about how to grow and adapt to better serve your target audience. Questions aimed at continual improvement and asking how your brand can improve are great ways to collect this type of customer research data.

What information do you need to collect to achieve this goal?

Once you’ve selected your target goal for your VoC work, you’ll decide on the type of information you’re looking to collect.

Depending on the niche area of your business and your specific product or service offerings, the type of information you’ll be interested in collecting will differ greatly.

  • Online marketing agencies are interested in learning about the demographics and experiences of their customers. To do this, these types of companies may create surveys encouraging customers to share their feedback about their recent purchases.

  • Product merchandising companies will likely focus on brand awareness and reputation. These types of businesses will likely want to ask questions that help figure out how their target audience received a recent product launch.

  • C-suite executives often focus on top-line results and ROI. As a result, their values and interests may skew their VoC programs to be more focused on stats about sales, repeat purchases, and customer satisfaction.

How can you best collect the information you need to succeed?

With all of this decided, it’s time to determine how you’ll collect valuable data from your customers. You should discuss the types of questions you’re going to ask, how you’ll connect with your target audience, and how you’ll collect and analyze the information before jumping into a full-fledged VoC strategy. 

10 ways to collect voice of the customer data

If you’re looking for some inspiration when it comes to finding ways to reach your ideal customers for VoC research, we’ve got you covered. Here is a list of our top ten ways to collect voice of the customer data, no matter the size and scope of your project:

Customer interviews 

Virtual or in-person feedback interviews are a great way to collect rich, deep, and nuanced insights about your customers. Capable of being recorded for future viewing, setting up a quick fifteen or thirty-minute call with a customer can provide a wealth of data for your business. 

Live chat 

Do you already have a live chat function as part of your customer service system? If so, this is a great opportunity to add simple, helpful questions to learn more about your customer’s experience. At the end of a ticket resolution, ask the customer how satisfied they are with the service and solution provided. This is a great opportunity to collect both positive and negative feedback to improve your customer service in the future.

Customer surveys

Send surveys to customers asking them for their opinions, preferences, and experiences with your product or service. This is one of the best ways to collect a large quantity of customer data, often for a minimal cost of company resources and funds. Depending on the type of data you want to collect, you’ll need to decide on the style of questions (open-ended, close-ended, multiple choice) to include in your survey to receive the best results. 

Customer service interactions 

Analyze customer service interactions, like phone calls, live chats, and email exchanges, to understand common pain points and areas for improvement. Also capable of being recorded for later reference, one of the benefits of these interactions is your ability to change questions on the fly. 

These types of data collection options allow for the most in-depth collection of customer experience data and are incredibly valuable for learning more about your target audience.

Social media

Connecting with your customers and listening to their organic conversations about your brand is essential for successful VoC research. Through social media platforms like Instagram, TikTok, Facebook, and more, your brand can utilize social listening techniques to gain valuable information from channels that discuss your brand, competitor businesses, and related keywords.

Website analytics 

The way your customers use your website is a massive source of customer data. Do you have areas of the site that are commonly visited and viewed and others that are neglected? How do changes to your webpage affect the customer journey of your visitors? How many people visit your product page, and what percentage of those people actually buy? 

Including these types of analytical questions in your VoC research is a great way to get a more holistic understanding of your customer’s behavior. Web analytics, product analytics, and user experience mapping tools can help you grasp how customers move through your website.

Virtual customer reviews 

Testimonial reviews are the bread and butter of VoC customer research. Offering you direct insight into the satisfaction level and experience of your customers, we highly recommend encouraging your customers to leave testimonial feedback for your brand whenever possible.

Focus groups 

If your business wants to expand its offerings to a new or different market, you may benefit from focus groups. After carefully selecting customers to participate, focus groups allow for participants to bounce ideas off of each other and provide more detailed and insightful feedback that you can integrate into your next project, especially when building an interactive system (e.g., SaaS, a social app, or a multiplayer game).

Feedback forms 

For companies that have a service-based model, asking for customer feedback after a session is a great way to get a better understanding of their experience. As an easy way to eliminate bias, sending your customers an email form to fill out about their most recent appointment allows for accurate and fresh feedback that you can use.

Net Promoter Score 

Your company’s Net Promoter Score is a number that represents your customer satisfaction and loyalty. It’s often calculated by asking clients simple questions like, “On a scale from 1–10, how likely are you to recommend X to others?”. 

While this score does not inherently provide detailed VoC data, it does allow for a bigger-picture understanding of the current reputation of your brand. This will allow you to better focus your other VoC strategy points to learn more about why your score is as high (or as low) as it is.

Learn more about customer analysis software

Get the most out of your voice of the customer analytics

As we can see, it always pays (both literally and metaphorically) to listen to your customer’s feedback.

With the number of global companies choosing to integrate VoC strategies into the core structure of their vision and mission on the rise, it’s clear that the way that businesses approach future content development and marketing has permanently changed.

To stay ahead of your competition (and better reach your target audience), your company needs to use a VoC program. And while the early stages of integrating VoC into every level of your business will be slow-going, the long-term rewards of your efforts are guaranteed to offer a strong return on your investments.

If you want to get started with a user-focused VoC strategy, consider using a customer insights hub like Dovetail to help you get started. Connect with your team today to learn more about the many benefits of detailed customer insights, collected and analyzed in one easy-to-use platform.

Now get out there and listen to your customers!

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