We spend so much time and money trying to be understood and not enough time understanding. At TMA+Peritus, this is one of our core beliefs. That’s why we use voice-of-customer research, or VOC, as a key component to identify insights that lead to sound marketing and business development strategies for our clients.
VOC starts with structured questions and uses ad-hoc probing to discover new and more detailed understanding. We have used VOC effectively for many clients—business, government, nonprofits, academics—and in numerous contexts. This can take the form of consumer research, B2B purchasers and “internal customers” such as the leadership and staff of our clients. We find clients who take advantage of our VOC approach launch marketing efforts that have more relevant and targeted content, greater interaction and engagement, and better strategies that over time generate a stronger return on investment—and return on relationship.
Sometimes it seems research comes in only two flavors: oversimplified and incomprehensible. VOC doesn’t require an advanced degree in statistics (although for some clients this might be helpful). Listening is important. And no doubt you should act on key findings. The real challenge comes in structuring, probing, synthesizing and gaining insights. These processes are not always so clear-cut.
When brilliant strategies emerge, they connect everything—inside and out, all of the dots…plus a few new dots that were previously missing. Usually, this is the result of a talented team and a blend of skill-sets that includes analysis, creativity, vision and collaboration. The two most common limitations of VOC are 1) being too close to the business and 2) not understanding the business well enough, so another belief we base our approach upon is that nothing brings results like two organizations collaboratively understanding what needs to be accomplished. (Oh, and there’s that measurement and adaptation thing, but we’ll save that for another day.)
A small sampling shows the diversity of clients who have benefited from our VOC services: California Avocado Commission, Cherry Tree Dental, City of Wausau, CUNA Mutual Group, Eastbay, Foot Locker, Fox Communities Credit Union, Lion Apparel, LumiData, M3 Insurance, Minnesota Thermal Science, MyInnerview, North Central Health Care, Portage County Business Council, River Valley Bank, WEA Trust, Wisconsin Potato and Vegetable Growers Association and the University of Wisconsin. Typically, we use VOC as a first step in designing content marketing and branding initiatives, as well as for persona development when creating targeted website user design experiences, but the applications are broader and extend into business development, product innovation, customer service and many other aspects of strategy.