The voice of the customer (VoC) is a market research tool. It is used as a means of gathering data that helps establish the customers’ needs, wants and requirements. As a Product Manager, you will be expected to conduct this form of research – whether or not your company uses the term “VoC”!

How to Gather Voice of Customers?

Voice of the customer data is collected during face to face contact with existing customers as well as with potential customers. The data is collected via observation of the customer either whilst on a regular visit at their premises, at industry events and/or at corporate events. More often than not, it is carried out where you can observe the customer interacting with your product in some way.

Meeting with customers in this way and observing their use of your products gives very valuable insights into their needs. With traditional surveys and other forms of market research that do not have this hands on approach you lose the insight into many of these interactions. Customers are not always able to articulate their needs clearly. This is why observation and documentation of customer contact is vital to any product development, product enhancement and for better understanding your customer’s relationship with your product.

Tips for Gathering VoC Data

On formal visits to the customer or if they are formally visiting you it is very important to make sure that you identify what it is that you are trying to achieve from the visit. Once you know this, you can make detailed plans for the visit. For instance if this visit is to collect your customers views on a new product or a product enhancement then you will need to decide what format you are going to present it to them in. You need to think about whether you need to see their processes in action. In addition, who on their staff you would like to interact with and who is going to represent your business with you.

It is equally important to decide how you are going to record your observations. There will of course be lots of note taking, including diagrams. Would it be appropriate to use recording equipment (audio or video)? This would mean that other members of your cross-functional team who may not be present can view the data as well. This is quite often invaluable as they make have a completely different take on a particular response because they view it from another perspective.

Voice of the customer research is an intrinsic part of product management. No aspects of the design, development, release or marketing of the product are valid without it. It is a continuous exercise that has to be undertaking in order to maximize the potential success and continued success of your product or product line.