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According to Vinod Kumar Khosla, co-founder of Sun Microsystems, "Customer voices are not just heard, they echo throughout the business." This poignant remark underscores the crucial importance of the "Voice of the Customer" (VoC) in today's highly competitive business landscape. In an era where Digital Transformation and Customer Experience are imperative for organizational survival, it is essential to understand, value, and act upon the insights provided by the customer's voice. This article aims to shed light on the importance of VoC, backed by actionable insights and best practices for C-level executives.

The Indisputable Importance of Voice of the Customer

With today's market largely consumer-driven, understanding the nuances of consumer behavior and embracing their inputs are not just a priority; it's a strategy for survival. The Accenture Strategy Global Customer Pulse Research reveals that 66% of customers switch companies due to poor service, with a staggering $1.6 trillion in lost business in the U.S. alone. A central theme for combatting this alarming trend is proactively adopting VoC programs, which not only make customers feel valued, but also provides businesses with a Strategic Planning tool for effecting Change Management and Operational Excellence.

Mechanics of a Robust VoC Program

A robust VoC program transcends conventional customer feedback mechanisms like surveys or reviews. It entails genuinely listening to your customers, understanding their needs, and aligning those to your business strategy. The process involves the following key steps:

  1. Awareness: Understanding what your customers think about you, their expectations, and how well you're meeting them—both expressed and implied.
  2. Dialogue: Establishing direct, frequent communication with your customers and encouraging them to share their candid thoughts and experiences.
  3. Insight: Collecting, analyzing, and Action Planning based on feedback.
  4. Action: Implementing solutions and innovations based on customer feedback.

Leveraging Technology in the VoC Journey

Embracing technology to optimize your VoC process allows an organization to make well-informed decisions swiftly, often leading to elevated customer satisfaction. AI and machine learning can play a critical role in this transition. For instance, speech analytics can process and analyze recorded customer interaction, providing enormous value and data that can be actioned to enhance customer experience.

Turning VoC into Actionable Strategies

Retrieving the voice of the customer is half the battle won. The winning half is about turning these insights into actionable strategies. Once you have access to this rich reservoir of data, what do you do with it? According to Gartner, 89% of companies compete primarily on customer experience. Therefore, it is vital that your VoC program results in tangible actions that provide a measurable difference in the customer experience.

Your first step should be to categorize and prioritize customer feedback into distinct areas—such as product enhancement, customer support, service delivery, etc.—to clearly understand where the most significant issues lie. Subsequently, design strategies for each category based on the urgency and impact on customer experience. Furthermore, never shy away from making bold changes. It is not just about small, incremental improvements but sometimes about complete overhauls to certain aspects of your business that directly impact customer satisfaction.

Case in Point: Samsung's VoC Success

Business Transformation through VoC is not hypothetical; it has tangible, proven benefits. Take Samsung for example. When the company was facing severe brand-image crisis in 2016, following safety hazards with its Galaxy Note 7, Samsung took proactive steps. They established a global team of more than 700 researchers and engineers to understand the issue's root causes, conducted several tests and shared their findings transparently, winning back their customers' trust.

Actioning VoC should not be viewed as a singular project, but more a part of a company's culture. As a C-level executive, it is your responsibility to incorporate VoC into your organization's DNA. In an ultra-connected world where customer opinions can define a brand's reputation, being attuned to the Voice of the Customer, deciphering its instructions, and turning it into business strategy is an imperative. After all, your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.


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