In an age where technology shrinks distances, understanding your customers has never been more important. Truly understanding your customers goes beyond who, to knowing why they buy. What drives their decisions, what are their met and unmet needs, what are your competitors offering, how do they view you, how likely are they to renew with their current supplier versus switch? This is often referred to as knowing the voice of your customer. There are two main ways to collect customer-level intelligence: Win/Loss, or a Voice of Customer (VoC) program.
Win/Loss provides specific insights around the customer buying process. (More information on the benefits of Win/Loss can be found here.) Voice of Customer (VoC) gives perspective around the customer’s current view of this market and satisfaction with their current solution; it also provides key market and competitor insights. While Renewal Intelligence provides information around the customers likelihood to renew or switch and any current key pain points.
Voice of Customer has applications across multiple areas of the organization, but particularly within four key areas.
- Customer-Facing Sales Reps: can gain valuable insights by hearing directly from customers, who are more likely to share feedback in an anonymized fashion as opposed to directly to their rep. Tactical elements of the sales process, the quality/focus of the demo, and key talking points can all be improved.
- Marketing: can better align the value proposition by better understanding specifically what customer’s value – what are the features that are “must-haves” versus the “nice-to-haves”. Messaging can be fine-tuned, and marketing campaigns can be adjusted to highlight your strengths.
- Product Development: Customer feedback can help drive product decisions and investments. VoC research identifies current met and unmet needs; it can also identify areas of future customer needs, allowing companies to more effectively build informed product and solution roadmaps.
- Competitive Intelligence: A less understood but valuable outcome of VoC research is competitive intelligence. Your competitors are likely calling on the same customer set as you; in effect, your customer set is one of the most informed sources for competitive insights. How your competitors sell, what their value proposition is, what is their pitch, how do they price, what is their product roadmap – these and other pieces of competitive information can be gleaned from effective VoC research.
There are some clear similarities between VoC research and Win/Loss. Both likely include both qualitative and quantitative elements. Both elicit direct feedback from prospects and customers. And both require skilled interviewers to get the level of details (and context) required to drive change. While both Win/Loss and VoC can be done using pure survey methodologies, direct interviews with prospects/customers are often more fruitful. (Which is why we recommend you include direct interviews as a key component of any program.)
One of the key differences between Win/Loss and VoC research is the sample set. By definition, in Win/Loss you are only engaging with prospects you pitched. You may have been the winner (either in a competitive bid or as a renewal), a close second place finisher, or eliminated early; in all cases, there was a discrete set of activities with a specific prospect/customer. The entire process is unblinded and the prospect/customer knows you are interested in a specific opportunity.
With VoC, you don’t necessarily need to speak with a specific customer; rather, you need to identify the customer segment you are interested in, and the type of job titles you want insight from. The interviews are typically blinded, and the focus is on gathering a relevant, representative view from that set. The “n” can be much larger, allowing for greater confidence in the results.
Often, FCSI clients combine both VoC and Win/Loss methodologies into a single program. Doing this allows for both tactical learnings (i.e. what happened at a particular deal), strategic insights into how to win more deals, and valuable intel on future needs; competitive information is a valuable outcome as well.
In the traditional world of CI, customers are often overlooked, or the responsibility of another department. But, by focusing on customers feedback and insights, true competitive advantage can be gained.
Author: Chad Stimson, COO Fletcher/CSI