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10 Qualities of Voice of Customer (VOC) Interviewers

Voice of Customer Interviews are very critical because it is not easy to get quality time from customer to share their views. When such an opportunity culminates, the VOC interviewer has to be effective enough to make the best out of it. Here are 10 qualities that are critical for any VOC interviewers:

Good interviewing skills: This is a critical skill in both in-depth VoC interviews and focus group moderating. VoC interviewers need to listen without judging, asking clear questions, probe, capture non-verbal clues, etc. Listening skills cannot be underestimated because if interviewer doesn’t actively listen to customers, he/she won’t be able to probe on the second, third and fourth levels. Listening skills and remembering their responses builds rapport and encourages the customer to offer more detailed input because they know the interviewer is listening.

Discerning ability: Very good VoC interviewers in an urban set-up may miserably fail in rural environment because; interviews with rural customers have to be in the form of general conversation. The interviewer needs to know when to ask specific questions and put an end to general discussion.

Sufficient product knowledge: Product knowledge of interviewer or moderator is non-negotiable. Without understanding the range of products – current and past and its corresponding competitor products a VoC interviewer will be a lame duck in front of customer.

Good voice tone, pacing, pitch and volume: This is often overlooked but it’s a key reason that differentiates the good VoC interviewers & moderators from the bad ones. Those who read directly from their guide and sound robotic, which discourages the customers, while, on the other hand, those who are overly lively and upbeat also turn off customers to silence. Somewhere in the middle might be the best bet.

Balance critical reasoning & imaginative thinking: Interviewers & moderators need to know the objectives of their VoC research beforehand. In case the participants are not giving them the in-depth information to address those objectives, they often have to think on their feet and get creative to get better responses. Thus VoC interviewers need to possess appropriate combination of critical reasoning skills and imaginative thinking skills.

Keen eye for detail: During interviews, several rapid, loosely related or unsolicited responses may originate from the customers. In fact, some of them may be non-verbal in nature. While such valuable information may go un-noticed, a good VoC interviewer will leverage his/her ability to observe with a keen eye for detail to unearth unarticulated needs of customers.

Genuine Interest on Customer: Ability to stay genuinely interested, as a person, and completely detached, as an interviewer is very important.  There is a very delicate balance and a key success factor for any VoC researcher. One has to be genuinely interested in the discussion and actively listen to ensure that the customer feels comfortable and grows trust that they can be forthright in their opinion. Yet, one cannot bias the research through one’s demeanour. Thus one may build a great rapport with a participant right off the bat, but you need to stick to objectivity.

Empathy: While a VoC interviewer or moderator has well defined objective for each interview, customers may come from a different frame of mind, culture, upbringing and generation. In fact they may be grappling with problems which are far more important than the ‘position of gear handle’ or a need for a ‘water bottle holder’. A good interviewer should first empathize with the customer, even if it means putting aside his/her viewpoint, and try to see things from customer’s point of view. Again, customer may be illiterate, economically not well placed, etc., but respect him and his views.

Patience: The VoC interviewer needs to have a lot of patience to get specific responses from rural customers, as they may get involved in their rhetoric and repeat things. The VoC interviewer has to tactfully bring them back on track.

Good Relator: As a good relator, VoC interviewer or moderator will focus on building relationships with customers that go beyond short term transactions such as VoC Interviews for an hour. He/she will need to understand customer’s feelings, their goals, their fears, and their dreams. A good relator will not shy away from meeting new people, every day and will derive a great deal of pleasure and strength from being around their customers.