I hated customer research until I found Voice of Customer

voice of customer

By Marci Cornett, {grow} Community Member

I’m a marketer who hated customer research … until I got emotional about it

Maybe you’ve known all along how incredible customer research is for growing your business. But I was afraid of it.

I thought it was all about processing numbers and percentages. And embracing soul-crushing words like “demographics” and “statistics.”

You see, I’m a word nerd. My head was designed for literary analysis. Want to talk about the symbolism of Mr. Darcy’s oppressed passion for Elizabeth Bennet? I’m all yours.

But customer research metrics? I’ll just bury my nose deeper in my novel, thanks.

Thankfully, I discovered Voice of Customer research. And I realized I was perfectly cut out for this kind of research. Because — just like a good regency period romance — the best Voice of Customer research is filled with emotion!

More on that in a minute. But first, let’s make sure we’re all on the same page with the term “Voice of Customer.”

When a word nerd fell in love with customer research

Qualtrics defines Voice of Customer (VoC) as “your customer’s feedback about their experiences with and expectations for your products or services.” Capturing and analyzing this feedback will help you uncover your customers’ problems, needs, expectations, opinions, and desires.

This insight enables you to improve customer experience, design better products/services, and create more effective marketing.

Sources for capturing Voice of Customer include:

  • Live chat
  • Social media comments
  • Online reviews
  • Surveys
  • Customer interviews
  • Customer service calls and emails
  • Dedicated feedback forms

I was thrilled when I found out that VoC research focuses on customer feedback (aka words — my favorite!).

In fact, when it comes to Voice of Customer research, analyzing words is even more important than analyzing statistics. That’s because customers “tell their stories predominantly in words, not numbers,” writes Jim Macnamara, Professor of Public Communication at the University of Technology Sydney.

So customer stories are filled with words. Know what else they’re filled with?

You got it. Emotions.

Let’s get emotional — Voice of Customer research

Emotions are an essential part of making decisions.

In fact, if you strip away our emotions, we’re essentially incapable of making decisions. Just like the poor guy who turned into a completely logical being after brain surgery turned off his emotions.

Everyone around him lost patience with him. He went from being well paid, well respected, and happily married to losing his job, his family’s respect, and his marriage. The consequences of his trying, but failing, to make decisions based on 100 percent processing of cold facts.

Now just think about the average consumer and all the decisions they have to make in a single day: Will I go for the name brand cereal or the store brand? Will I click on the link in this ad or keep scrolling? Will I order Aunt Betty the bouquet of melon chunks she’s been heavily hinting for or will a simple birthday card do?

That’s a lot of decisions for one person to make. And each one of those decisions is informed by emotions.

So with all the decisions our customers face each day, it makes sense for us, as marketers, to get to know their emotions.

After all, neuroscience has shown us that we’re only kidding ourselves when we think our purchasing decisions are based on logic. We buy on emotion and then justify our decision with logic.

But for some reason, a lot of marketing attempts to appeal to logical reasoning rather than emotional thinking. That’s an outdated way of going about marketing.

“The main point of brand differentiation in the past was a difference of the physical property of the product,” writes Min-Wook Choi, Professor of Advertising and Public Relations at Namseoul University. “But the main point of brand differentiation today is the emotional solidarity that consumers perceive about the brand.”

Why marketing should be filled with emotion

You can think of your customer’s purchase decision as one of change.

This instance of change is known as “the switch” in Jobs to Be Done, a framework based on the theory that people “hire” products and services to get a “job” done.” The “switch” is when your customer switches from their old way of doing things to the new way you offer them.

And you can bet that emotions play a part in influencing people to change — or rather — switch.

Research has shown that emotional “soft tactics”, including inspirational appeal, are more effective at inspiring change than “hard tactics”, like rational persuasion.

In a study of anti-tobacco advertising, ads that elicited emotions of sadness and fear were rated most effective by the audience.

In another study, this one with white-collar workers, researchers showed that messaging infused with emotional content resulted in a higher commitment to change than messaging based on rational content alone.

Well — that was as long as the workers believed their jobs were secure. Throw in the immediate threat of losing their job, and the workers were suddenly interested in the facts and figures!

But let’s be honest, most of your customers won’t be facing an immediate threat when they’re making the decision to purchase from you. So for them, it makes sense to skew toward emotion-filled messaging as you encourage them to make the switch.

That means it’s your job to figure out which emotions resonate with your customers, then represent them in your marketing. Like Wren did.

Voice of customer in a video

The boutique clothing company Wren spent around $1000 to make a short video entitled “First Kiss.”

On making brand videos, Wren’s creative director, Melissa Coker, said “We’ve always tried to make them fun, sexy and cool, but this is the first time we tried to make one that was truly worth sharing.”

To make a share-worthy video, Wren turned to emotions.

“We saw that people were most likely to share something if they had a strong, positive, emotional response to it. When the piece of content actually makes the viewer cry or feel inspired or happy, they want to share that experience with others.”

Wren’s video, which features a series of strangers sweetly navigating a “first kiss” with each other, had more than 61 million views within a week. It ultimately increased the company’s website traffic by 14,000 percent and online sales by over 13,600 percent.

How’s that for an emotional payoff?

Don’t cry for me, customer research — actually do

I now love doing customer research — something this word nerd never thought she’d say. It’s all thanks to immersing myself in the emotional world of VoC research.

Since I’ve started tuning into emotions through VoC, I’ve been able to develop marketing that’s not only based on a compelling argument but is incredibly different from the noise competitors are putting out into the world.

As a marketer, you should do all you can to understand the emotions of your customers through your own VoC efforts. Then you can represent those emotions in your marketing to create a message that truly resonates.

Now tell me, has all this made you excited to get emotional and fall in love with VoC research?

Marci Cornett is one-half of the award-winning digital marketing team, Frank and Marci. She’s a messaging strategist who helps solopreneurs generate high-ticket leads through conversion-optimized website copy. Connect with her on LinkedIn.

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