Start with Voice of Customer data to communicate your value as a manufacturer

Manufacturers continue to struggle with communicating value-added products to customers. There are a few reasons behind this, with poor data collection being one of them. This problem is notorious for leading businesses astray because insufficient data gives you a false sense of your customer’s needs.

Not only is it harder to sell to your customers, but it becomes an uphill climb to upsell them. With the right information about these buyers, you can create relevant offers that address the internal dialogue happening as they evaluate your products.

But when you build Voice of Customer (VoC) data into your customer experience (CX) strategy, offer optimization is no longer a mysterious beast to avoid as a manufacturer. Instead, customer VoC becomes a companion to join you and your customers throughout their journey.

What is Voice of Customer data?

VoC data uses market research, whether direct or indirect, to gather feedback about customer expectations, challenges, wants, and preferences. It lets your company hear what people think about your products, services, and brand through common customer feedback channels.

This customer tool helps companies build better products, provide innovative solutions, and elevate the CX across all channels.

And it’s a way to increase profitability.

According to Gartner, implementing VoC data into marketing and sales strategies can increase upselling and cross-selling rates by 15-20%.

VoC data collection is a recent development for B2B manufacturers

Businesses in the industrial sector have slowly folded data collection into their CX initiatives. Even though many companies gather information about their customers, only a small number of them measure the success of their VoC strategy and CX activities.

They’re missing out on valuable opportunities to use those customer insights to heighten the buying process before, during, and after purchase.

Jeriad Zoghby, Global Lead of Omni-Channel Commerce at Accenture Interactive, notes that “It is a natural tendency for brands to over-rotate on acquiring as much data as possible, and, although data is critical to enabling personalized experiences, they would be better served focusing on designing great experiences and leveraging the data provided directly by the customer.”

Manufacturers and other industrial businesses must communicate value to improve their upsell and cross-sell conversion rates and increase customer retention and revenue. Especially since only a fifth of manufacturers acknowledge the power of omnichannel in positioning their offers to sell to existing customers.

With roughly 2.5 quintillion bytes of data produced by humans daily, there’s a lot of power in the insights businesses can get from them. Taking an avant-garde approach towards VoC research innately creates new avenues to optimize your product offers.

Where can you get Voice of Customer data?

So how can you nab those insanely valuable, actionable insights that help you reflect the value of your products back to customers? Look for the gems in your online surveys, interviews, user tests, and other touchpoints.

Let’s go through how they reveal priceless information you can use to enhance your CX programs as a manufacturer.

Customer Surveys

It’s one of the easiest, least invasive ways to get information about your customers so you can understand their intent. But it’s also tricky to get them right because:

  • Unless you have a ton of site traffic, it’s difficult to collect enough substantive answers relative to the number of visitors coming to the page.
  • People naturally want to please. Bias is common in muddying survey results, especially when the participant is already a loyal customer.
  • Too many close-ended questions reduce your ability to get feedback that provides more than a one or two-word response.

When you do get them right, you can begin to see common themes that show you:

  • Issues with a product feature you may not have realized was a problem when you initially launched.
  • What was going on in their company, team, or day-to-day lives that motivated them to buy in the first place.
  • How they use your product. Sometimes surveys reveal use cases you may not have even thought of and also aid in future product development.

Companies in growth mode use customer surveys combined with other analytical data more than those at non-growth organizations. Pairing a VoC survey with heatmaps can identify friction points on your site that cause frustration because visitors can’t get, find, or buy what they are looking for.

Customer Interviews

Even though a focus group can give you some insights into what motivates people to buy, they don’t beat a one-on-one customer interview. Face-to-face conversations with customers provide a treasure trove of insights about their experiences with your products.

These discussions are more than casual chats, though. Interviews offer a panoramic view of a decision-maker’s thinking and can expose more about your customers’ thought processes than you ever imagined.

But only if you know what kind of questions to ask.

In this example, which question would get a better answer during an interview?

Question 01: Do you believe ABC industrial adhesive is helpful for your company’s products?

Question 02: Before purchasing ABC industrial adhesive, what was happening on your production line that made you choose it?

The first question is a classic close-ended question. It’s going to get a “yes” or “no” response, and the interviewee will likely not elaborate with more information.

However, the second question is open-ended. You’ll be able to get details about the challenges the interviewee and their team faced before using the product.

Plus, it opens the conversation to introduce follow-up questions based on the person’s responses about their customer journey.

You can also use open-ended questions to get feedback about what stops them from buying more of your products or why they chose a competitor.

User Testing

If you can watch and record how people use your website, it gives you a front-row seat to what is or isn’t working. User testing online gives you insight into what’s important to customers so you can incorporate this into your value statements and messaging.

And as the book Making Websites Win points out, “you tend to learn from users who aren’t web-savvy” to know what to fix. They explain that the process goes a little something like this:

  1. Give people a task to do
  2. Watch them do it without offering any assistance
  3. Record the results
  4. Review results at a later time

But let’s talk about #1 and #4.

With user testing, the magic happens when you already have qualified participants. If you’re already running these tests with people outside your ideal target market, it’s worth investing the energy in enlisting customers who just purchased from you to show you how they did it on your site.

For manufacturers, who still struggle with providing an optimal digital experience, user testing is beneficial to optimize websites and improve customer experience.

There are several other methods businesses can use to get VoC data, like review mining, live chat transcripts, social listening, and sales call analysis. Whichever way you go, it’s crucial to consistently reevaluate what customers say about your business and its products.

Conducting research every 6 to 12 months helps you to stay on top of your VoC program and provide value where ever people engage with your company.

Good data leads to better CX

There’s pressure to provide a smooth customer experience across channels, but it’s proving harder to guarantee that it’s frictionless. B2B buyers have serious issues during the purchasing process.

For manufacturers, this is a huge problem to overcome as many businesses transition from traditional sales models to embrace ecommerce or a hybrid of both. Buyers often feel overwhelmed by choice and won’t hesitate to click the back button if they don’t feel seen.

Arming your business with good VoC data makes it easier to prevent people from turning to a competitor and enables you to get more of those coveted sales.

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