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What to ask in a voice of the customer questionnaire

An effective voice of the customer questionnaire guides an organization to understand its customers better and improve its products or services.

A voice of the customer questionnaire is an effective tool for growing a business, managing an organization's reputation and improving customer satisfaction and retention. The best results come from asking the right questions that provide valuable and actionable feedback.

Why VoC matters for company success

A VoC program helps an organization uncover valuable insight into its strengths and weaknesses as a business -- if approached strategically. But it requires a strategy that connects to organizational goals. It is about collecting and analyzing feedback from across the customer journey and then acting on those insights to guide decisions.

To have a holistic view of the customer experience, a voice of the customer questionnaire should collect responses at each phase of a customer lifecycle -- awareness, engagement, evaluation, purchase, post-purchase, servicing, etc. An organization's functional areas, such as marketing and advertising, product development, improvement and operations, can then use those insights to develop action plans for the future.

Despite how strategic it can be, many organizations overlook VoC programs when seeking answers to lagging sales, competitive demands, innovation opportunities and even online or digital experiences. Listening to customers and applying those insights is the best way to move a business forward. Without it, an organization may have to deal with a costly financial mistake or a tarnished brand reputation. Understanding how customers view the product, customer support and the company is invaluable.

What to include in a voice of the customer questionnaire

A VoC program provides valuable information for departments across an organization. Tailor the questions to match with the facet of the organization that has the most to gain. Below are examples of common questions to include in a Voice of the Customer questionnaire.

Listening to customers and applying those insights is the best way to move a business forward.

Recommendations

Tied closely with an organization's Net Promoter Score and Customer Effort Score, common questions include the following:

  • How likely are you to recommend the organization's product or service to a friend, family member or colleague?
  • What is the primary reason for your score?
  • How easy was it to do business here?

Awareness and image

These questions enable organizations to measure their brand awareness and perceptions from the customer point of view. Example questions include the following:

  • What word or phrase comes to mind when you encounter [product or service category]? Alternatively, instead of an open-ended question, include a predefined list for the respondent to select top choices.
  • Which of the following words would you use to describe the product?
  • What company comes to mind first when you think of [product or service category]?
  • Where have you seen or heard information about [product or service category] in the past six months?

Brand loyalty

These questions evaluate a customer's intention to continue engaging with a company or brand.

  • How likely will you switch to another company when purchasing [product/service] in the next 12 months?
  • How likely will you purchase another [product/service] from [company/brand] in the next six months?
  • Customer satisfaction: How satisfied are you with [company/brand or product/service]?
  • Which of the following [insert product or service] providers have you purchased from in the past 12 months? Which have you bought from most often in those 12 months?
Customer journey stages
Effective voice of the customer questionnaires target a specific stage of the customer journey.

Brand perception

These questions tackle what is top of mind for a customer when they think about the organization.

  • Which words or adjectives best describe [company/brand or product/service]? Include a predefined list for the respondent to select top choices.
  • What word or phrase comes to mind when you see or hear [company/brand or product/service]?
  • What company comes to mind when you think of [product/service]?

Performance

These questions help measure how well an organization delivers on its product to a customer and help identify what improvements the customer may be seeking:

  • What do you like best about [company/brand or product/service]?
  • What do you want to see improved?
  • How would you rate your satisfaction with [company/brand or product/service]?

Value received

Questions in this category help determine if a customer thinks the product or service is worth what they paid.

  • How would you rate the value for the money of the product?
  • How well does the product meet your needs?

Product optimization and improvement

Responses to these questions can help guide future resource allocation for development.

  • Which features are the most valuable to you?
  • What are some features currently missing?
  • If you could change one thing about the product, what would it be?

Origins and communication platforms

The answers to these questions help determine where an individual is in the customer journey. Here are some common questions:

  • How did you hear about the brand?
  • How do you typically learn about new products or services in this category?
  • Which social media platforms do you use regularly?

VoC methodologies

While there are numerous methodologies associated with customer feedback, passive and active feedback are the most common.

Active feedback

Active feedback happens when an organization reaches out to its customers for their thoughts and opinions. Some types of active feedback include the following:

  • Long, form-based surveys are the most common method of collecting customer feedback and are sent via email or postal mail.
  • Short, in-app surveys give customers a way to provide feedback on how a product or service performs. This methodology is excellent for customers to weigh in on their experience with a website or mobile app.
  • Transactional surveys gather data from a customer soon after completing a transaction, such as signing up for a new service, changing a service or talking to a service agent. These emails trigger when a particular interaction between the user and the organization occurs.
  • Focus groups are in-person or online groupinterviews involving a small number of demographically similar people. A facilitator leads the discussion with participants chosen based on particular qualifications.
  • Usability testing is the process of evaluating the usability of a product or service via a representative user's ability to complete a typical task. Meanwhile, observers watch, listen and take notes. These tests aim to collect qualitative and quantitative data and determine the participant's satisfaction with the product while identifying any problems.

Passive feedback

This type occurs when a customer provides feedback without an organization's prompting. These are some common examples:

  • Online reviews. Using various channels, customers share their experiences of engaging with or buying a product or service from a company. Often, this type of feedback helps guide other consumers about whether to make a purchase or use the service.
  • Social media. Consumers will often take to sites such as Twitter or Facebook to talk about their experiences -- both good and bad.

Analyzing and implementing VoC data

Using the right design and context, a voice of the customer questionnaire can be a powerful tool. First, however, it is essential to know what the organization wants to do with the information. Data gathering is only as valuable as the analysis and action plan it helps create.

Regardless of whether the feedback is positive or negative, it is up to the organization to use the information to understand its customers better. The responses can radically change how the organization interacts with its customers or makes new products or services.

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