The voice of the customer was there all along, but often it is silent unless spoken to. Other times it may be pointed in another direction. Occasionally it is angry. Sometimes it is exuberant! But when it is engaged directly and encouraged to speak, the words flow and priceless insights are learned. It simply requires a willingness to ask, then listen and understand what's being said. The most valuable listening always takes place one on one and, I believe, always will. That's what makes us human.
When customers are distributed far and wide, however, and you can't listen to them all at once, companies can employ listening tools to capture and amplify the voices. It can come in the form of consultants or focus groups, but most often it comes in the form of a survey. All too often, surveys are launched without investing the thought and effort in the process to filter out what should be heard from the cacophony of voices and then actually do something with the information that is gathered.
To truly hear the Voice of the Customer and have it willing to speak again and in a bright, cheerful way requires doing more than just listening and understanding. It requires adapting and then delivering based upon what has been learned; responding to what is said, echoing understanding and then adapting the product or service approach is what creates value. When that happens, the Voice becomes one that will happily tell others about you. Pretty soon, you can enjoy a Chorus!
Businesses have a choice. They can guess at what matters. Or they can listen intently to the Voice of the Customer for the keys to long-term success. Can you hear it?