How can you seek out Voice of Customer data when you’re short on time and resources?
The value of customer interviews is indisputable. But surveys? Not so much, Jessica argued.
“When's the last time you sent out a survey and people actually shared their secrets or like intents, confessions, or goals? It can happen occasionally, but it's pretty rare,” Jessica said.
“Unless you have a massive pool, [surveys] can actually end up skewing your results in a pretty negative manner.”
She cautioned against relying heavily on surveys for accurate feedback, as people may stretch the truth or tell you what you want to hear.
Instead, Jessica recommended better methods for collecting VOC data:
Where better to look for existing Voice of Customer material than your company’s sales or support calls?
Jessica recommends obtaining transcripts of at least five calls and delving in to pull out valuable insights.
She typically listens for instances where customers discuss:
In addition to the words your customers say, Jessica advises listening to what goes unspoken.
“Any sort of changes in their voice or tone or their emotion are sometimes even better than the words that they're actually saying,” she said.
Questions, themes, emotions, and unexpected use cases can all provide material for enhanced copy.
If accessing or transcribing sales calls is not an option, then there are other types of Voice of customer gathering techniques.
Consider reviewing insights from live chat and support tickets.
Use the same methods described above to tease out themes and patterns in what your customers are saying.
Jessica recommends creating a spreadsheet that is specific to each channel or platform you explore.
In other words, you might have one spreadsheet dedicated to support calls and another to social media.
“Then, I'll have an overview tab,” Jessica said. “Anytime I hear an objection, a pain point, a goal, or even just a common phrase or word spun up, more times than not I'll add it into the overview spreadsheet.”
There’s no need to be a creative wordsmith when pulling good customer copy - using customers’ own words can be a powerful catalyst for conversions.
Review sites like Trustpilot, Capterra, G2, and Forrester and Gartner can also be extremely useful for gathering customer feedback.
The same principles apply to analyzing this type voice of the customer data, with one caveat: consider omitting all the best and worst reviews from your analysis.
“A lot of SaaS customer success teams have some sort of KPI tied to increasing the number of five-star and or positive reviews on the sites,” Jessica said.
“So sometimes these can be a little bit skewed into extremely positive or extremely negative.”
“A lot of times I will throw out any of the five-star reviews and any of the one-star reviews. I'm in favor of the ones that are kind of in the middle.”
By targeting those middle-of-the-road reviews, you can get a great sense of the major trends and themes, and gather the most proof for any hypotheses you may have.
Perhaps more than any other channel, Jessica cited Reddit and social media as a goldmine for customer research.
With millions of active social media users and subreddits for any topic you could dream of, this realm is almost certainly an under-utilized data stream.
“This framework that I'm talking about also applies to online forums, Facebook groups, Slack communities, Discord communities, Quora, social media - whether it’s Twitter, LinkedIn, TikTok, Instagram, you name it,” Jessica said.
Have you explored Reddit yet? If not, Jessica says that your customers are out there.
“I can pretty much guarantee that almost every single person in this chat will have at least one subreddit related to their product or service,” she said.
“The easiest way to find it is you go to reddit.com/subreddits/search, and then just add in your topic.”
The key is going deep, and not broad in your search for relevant soundbites. You don't want to be spending endless hours exploring 15 different subreddits, when it would be more productive to focus on 2-3.
If your company is a market leader with over 100,000 customers, go out there and search for brand mentions - it’s likely that hundreds of customers have talked about you on Reddit.
If you’re not already a market leader and your brand name isn’t mentioned often, you can simply target 3-5 competitors instead.
Jessica recommends focusing on subreddits that have over 20k users.
Then, filter those subreddit results so that you are viewing only comments from the last month.
If you’d like to focus on a subreddit with fewer than 20k users, filter the results so that you can see everything from the past year or more.
Similar to exploring other channels, what you are looking for here is to identify customers’ wants and needs.
For instance, if researching Shopify you would find dozens of posts explaining when and why customers switched to Shopify from other services.
By reading those posts and the associated comments, you can pull out valuable insights.
Another hack Jessica likes to use to get quick insights is to search for “how do I do X.”
“It's all about what are their biggest pain points,” Jessica said.
“Since it's anonymous by default, that often means that people are way more transparent and way more honest about what's actually happening than for example on review sites where usually your name is tied to it.”
When sifting through Reddit and other online communities, Jessica pays special attention to alternatives that come up.
By alternatives, she does not necessarily mean competitors.
Alternatives can also be defined as the “status quo,” or the inertia of doing things the way they have always been done in the past.
Figuring out exactly why people are so attached to their current processes can “really help you understand your ideal customer and also help you understand what's going to be moving the needle to get them to switch to you,” said Jessica.
The VOC data you gather can be a treasure trove for conversion-focused copywriting.
They can also help to inform your content marketing strategy as a whole.
You can gain inspiration for TOFU content, build credibility with educational MOFU content, and pinpoint intent for BOFU content in the form of identifying useful keywords.
“I actually find that Reddit can be just as good at keyword research and topic generation as Google, Ahrefs, or other tools like that,” Jessica said.
After you draft your new copy, test it out in the form of inexpensive Facebook and Google ads.
Once you’re confident that your new headlines and descriptions resonate with your customers, you can continue to build from there.
Watch Jessica talk about collecting voice of customer data from Reddit and other existing sources here.