Many companies fail to take the time to understand the true needs and feelings of their customers, especially during periods of major upheaval. Before investing in product development or altering services in a way that could completely change the customer experience, it’s important for innovators to ensure any adjustments they make accurately reflect the voice of the customer (VOC).
The VOC process is a form of marketing research that aims to understand customer expectations as well as their likes and dislikes. This process offers insight into customers’ needs and desires—both the ones they consciously speak about and those they’ve yet to even identify themselves.
The VOC technique also makes it possible for brands to learn how customers make decisions and the specific “pain points” that may stop them from making a purchase. In addition, it offers information about how customer preferences change over time.

Changing Approaches to VOC During the Pandemic

In 2020, companies have seen customer preferences change drastically. From a sudden decline in income to new regulations that dictate their daily interactions, there have been a number of influential factors causing the pendulum of customer preferences to swing wildly.
Some of the changes have been lasting, while others haven’t. Keeping up with these shifts has given many businesses whiplash. But others have proven to be stronger than ever. The key to success in this situation is knowing exactly what customers are thinking and feeling and using that information to dictate key decisions for your company.

While many VOC collection techniques have typically been conducted in person, such as interviews, focus groups, and observations, this is no longer a safe option in the wake of COVID-19. Thus, having an effective digital feedback collection method has become more crucial than ever.
At Listen360, we’ve seen many of our brands succeed in implementing changes to how they gather and analyze customer feedback during the pandemic. Below, we’ve listed a few of the different ways they’ve adjusted their digital feedback collection strategies to understand customers’ changing preferences and respond in a way that strengthens customer relations and promotes brand loyalty.

Keeping an Ear to the Ground

With customer engagement software that allows you to analyze customer feedback in real time, you can quickly get a handle on your customers’ current needs and frame of mind. While in the past you may have only checked customer feedback on a casual basis, now is the time to increase the frequency with which you gather, monitor, and respond to customer opinions and reviews.
Not only will doing so ensure you keep your finger on the pulse of a changing situation, but it will also enable you to make quick changes based on customer reactions. For example, if you receive a comment expressing disappointment about your company’s approach to COVID-19 safety measures, you can immediately look into the problem and resolve it so no other customers have the same negative experience. The most dynamic software packages alert you of such feedback right away, giving you the chance to quickly fix the problem and retain customers you may otherwise have lost.

Adjusting Text Analytics

Once upon a time, your text analytics may have been tuned to identify issues regarding customer service or specific aspects of your products. Now, depending on the types of services you offer, you should most likely be tuning your analytics to seek out words such as “PPE,” “COVID,” “masks,” “social distancing,” “pandemic,” and any other phrases that customers may be using to express their feelings and observations about the current situation.
With the right customer engagement software, you can easily adjust your text analytics at any time to include these words. With this proactive approach, you can find and address COVID-related feedback as quickly as possible. Remember, this feedback won’t always be negative. You’re also looking out for positive customer experiences that show you’re on the right track to providing customers with a purchase process that helps them feel safe.

Assessing the Needs of Different Demographics

At this point in time, customer sentiment may vary drastically depending on where they live. Rather than looking at your customer base as a whole, you’ll likely get a better understanding of what’s going on by segmenting feedback data to pinpoint certain states, regions, or demographics.
Using a customer listening solution, like Listen360, brands can take a detailed look at how different segments feel about their products and services as well as their approach to health and safety. Region, location, customer age, and customer tenure are some of the categories that can be used to filter data and highlight important patterns. Thanks to this tool, segments of your customer base that require extra attention won’t go overlooked.
During volatile times, your customers’ voices should lead the way. When you realize your customers only want to be heard and feel safe, you can work to meet these needs in real-time and build relationships that endure beyond this challenging era.