News & Articles


Increasing Customer Retention: 4 Voice Of Customer Strategies

Ernan Roman, ERDM President
Published by: Knowledge Resources
28 Nov 2011

Customers are a precious resource and should never be squandered, especially in these tough economic times. To improve customer retention, marketing innovators are increasingly using Voice of Customer-driven strategies to achieve deeper, stronger relationships with customers.
Voice of Customer (VOC) is a methodology which enables marketers to develop powerful relationship marketing strategies, based on learnings from specialised interviews with present and past customers and prospects.

VOC enables brands such as Microsoft, NBC and QVC to gain an in-depth understanding of how customers define critical factors such as:

  • the quality of their relationship with the brand
  • the quality and price/value of their products or services
  • the quality of the customer experience across multiple touch points
  • the quality of their customer service/inside sales personnel.
VOC also offers insights regarding which offers will attract the most customers, and the combination of media that should be used to deliver these offers.

Following are four VOC best practices that have been proved to generate significant increases in customer retention:

Best practice #1: Create a Reciprocity of Value Equation
Marketers who provide relevant information and offers will in turn encourage consumers to opt-in and provide invaluable information regarding their message, offer and media preferences. This information becomes the core of a uniquely powerful preference-driven database which will drive double-digit increases in response and revenue. For a good example of such a programme, see this Microsoft case study:

Best practice #2: Use both qualitative and quantitative research to gather customer insights
VOC is a qualitative methodology that supplements and augments quantitative research by generating in-depth marketing strategy guidance. It is based on in-depth interviews which run approximately 60 minutes. Combining qualitative and quantitative methods can be game-changing. Applied properly, VOC can help companies to increase repeat purchases, referrals and lifetime value.

Best practice #3: Drive tactical improvements in the customer experience
Action items include re-designing your website experience per VOC feedback, rethinking your on-line strategies and retraining customer service reps to be more relationship-focused (rather than transaction-focused). Elias Roman, CEO of Songza Media Inc., a social-media-driven online music service,, used feedback from VOC interviews to drive a new website design and customer experience. The result? "We doubled user session time from twenty to forty minutes and saw similar increases in revenue generation."

Best practice #4: Harness the power of ongoing VOC via social media.
The goal is to use feedback from social media tools to create, sustain and reinforce a "permanent VOC" mindset at all levels of the organisation. VOC is not something you "finish" - it is a way of doing business. For a case study on how the online apparel marketer uses this "permanent VOC" approach to create bestselling new products and engage customers, click here.

The takeaway: Make VOC a core competency in your company.
Instill the discipline of using VOC to create a customer-focused culture. This will enable you to constantly improve the quality of your marketing, based on ongoing insights from customers and prospects. Make VOC-guidance a core part of your company culture. Use it like a customer GPS for your business.

About the author:
Ernan Roman is one of the leading authorities in Voice of Customer-driven relationship marketing. He is recognised as the industry pioneer who created three transformational methodologies: Integrated Direct Marketing, Opt-In Marketing, and Voice of Customer Relationship Research. He was inducted into the Marketing Hall of Fame in October 2011.

Ernan will be in South Africa and participating in Knowledge Resources' Direct Marketing Conference & Workshop, taking place on 28 February - 1 March 2012 in Johannesburg. He will also run a workshop in Cape Town on 2 March 2012.

Don't miss the opportunity to engage with him as he discusses the following relevant topics:
Pre-conference workshop: Increase sales by 10-35% and generate customers who care, spend and stay: The 3-step relationship marketing process
Keynote address at the Direct Marketing Conference: Four strategies to drive your social and multichannel success
Cape Town workshop: Smart marketing in tough times: Preference-based social and multichannel strategies to drive double-digit increases in revenue


New Book Release: Voice Of The Customer Marketing
"This is the definitive playbook for this new customer-driven era."
—Frank Eliason
Senior Director, National Customer Operations, Comcast
"Thank you, Ernan, for tuning us in to the inner voice of our customers! A deep understanding of our customers' needs and preferences is essential for our future growth."
—Karen Galley
President, Patient News Publishing