Cracking the code on voice of the customer

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear “Voice of the Customer research”? If you’re like many healthcare marketers, the answer is simple: surveys. Lots of surveys. The trouble is, that one-word answer could limit the value your Voice of the Customer (VoC) research actually provides.

To be clear, this doesn’t mean that surveys aren’t a valuable VoC research tool. They are. But if you want to learn how a customer really thinks, feels, and speaks about your healthcare brand, a survey can only tell you so much. In a formal survey setting, people don’t speak the same way they do in everyday life. For written surveys, the self-editing impulse is even stronger, which compounds the issue.

Overcoming this hurdle requires a different research approach. “To do VoC research right,” says Brian Davies, managing partner at Movéo, “you have to think about not just what people tell you, but also what they might actually do.”

This sounds intuitive enough. But how can you do it?

Think Outside the Survey

Your audience is already out there, speaking freely about your services and your brand, on multiple channels. If you can tap into them, you’ll bring added depth and authenticity to your VoC research.

Search engines are one channel that healthcare marketers shouldn’t ignore. “Search is an extension of your customers’ voice,” says Lee Vida, digital marketing manager at Movéo. “It’s them telling a search engine what they’re looking for, in their own words.”

When you dive into consumer search patterns around your brand, you can determine what’s most important to patients in your target area. This can obviously help you improve your SEO rankings, but the benefits go beyond that. By identifying the specific language patients use, you can talk to them on their own terms. It’s a great way to attract attention, spark engagement and encourage conversions.

Social media is another gold mine of insight into customer wants and needs. You’d be surprised how much social chatter is already out there about your brand or your services. By amalgamating and analyzing it, you’ll get a useful composite view of how patients speak about you.

Use this data to identify patterns, commonly used terms or phrases, and major customer needs — both the ones you’re already meeting and the ones going unfilled.

Broaden Your Net

The most successful VoC research doesn’t limit itself to a single approach. It takes a multi-channel deep dive into what patients are really thinking, saying and doing. True, this might seem like a more complicated process than conducting a few phone surveys and hoping for the best. But the extra effort is more than worth the deeper, more valuable data you’ll get in return.