The voice of the customer is a very important person in any company. This is the person that sees things the way your customers see them. This is the person that raises their hand in a meeting and tells you that the customer is not going to like a new policy or feature. This is the person who is going to evaluate all internal decisions based on the impact on existing customers.
Without the voice of the customer, your company will be out of touch. You will be making decisions that executives see as best for the business without anyone to say whether or not customers are going to be happy.
What Qualifies Someone to Be the Voice of the Customer?
There are numerous positions in each company that could conceivably take on this role. Whoever it is has to have an intimate knowledge of who the customer is and why they do business with your company. They don’t have to speak directly to customers on a regular basis, but it certainly helps.
The voice of the customer should have a certain level of authority and decision-making power within the company. They have to have a seat at the table, so that the voice of the customer is heard when it matters most.
There is a case to be made that the person in charge is the voice of the customer. And at many start-ups and small businesses, the leader is the person that can fill that role. But the many responsibilities of the business leader or CEO will lead, sooner or later, to the voice of the customer role taking a back seat to the job of running the business.
A case can also be made for sales or customer service to represent the voice of the customer. Those teams are on the front lines, the ones who are dealing with customers day in and day out. But questions arise over whether these teams have enough internal power to ensure that the voice of the customer is included in all major decisions.
In many businesses, it is the product management team that must act as the voice of the customer. This team is responsible for the product, and a product is only as good as its ability to meet the needs of its customers. Product leads must work to incorporate customer’s wants and needs into the product, and can represent the very same to the overall business.
What Does the Voice of the Customer Do?
The voice of the customer has a number of responsibilities, most of them informal.
Push for policies that are favorable to the customer and against policies that inhibit the customer experience.
Push for new product features that would improve the overall satisfaction of the customer.
Remind others within the organization to keep the customer in mind in everything that they do.
Remind executives who the customer is and how their decisions will impact them.
Make the case for pricing terms that are favorable to the customer.
In a sense, the voice of the customer is just what it sounds like. This person represents the customer interest in all things. It is as if you are giving your customers a seat at the table.
Who Should Be the Voice of the Customer?
No matter what their title, the person in your company who should be the voice of the customer has to be dedicated and fearless.
The person who will be successful in this role will do whatever it takes to understand customers better. They will get on the phone, send out emails, and hit the road to talk to customers. They will know what they like and don’t like about the product, why they chose your company over the competition, how they use your product, and more.
And they will not be afraid to share this information and speak up when it matters most. Whether it’s a meeting with their team, or a bunch of executives sitting around the conference room table getting ready to make a critical business decision. This person will have no problem speaking up.