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We’ve had a “Voice of Customer” program for 10 years – is that good?

The book “The Death of Propaganda – B2B Buyer Behavior Has Changed. Now it’s Your Turn.” co-authored by me, Michael Best and David Hoskin, talks about three concepts that are absolutely vital for B2B marketers to grasp: Voice of the Company; Voice of the Industry; and Voice of Customer. Communicating with all three of these voices is mandatory if you want to fully address the needs of the new breed of B2B buyer.

Experienced marketers may feel a little confused about our use of the already established term “Voice of Customer”. Voice of the Customer is a term that has traditionally been used to describe special programs for involving customers in core corporate activities such as product development and the design of customer-facing functions. Such activities usually involve inviting key accounts or a cross-section of customers to special, offline events where they can provide direct input and feedback to management.

Today, this type of Voice of Customer program is basically a dinosaur. A relic. An outdated idea that was only ever useful as a far-too-small plaster on a gaping wound in the way businesses were interacting with their markets. Enlightened B2B marketers now look past this type of program to get customer input on customers’ terms rather than those of the company.

So, for the purposes of our Three Voices strategic model, we took over the old terminology and gave it a make-over, re-positioning “Voice of Customer” as the all-important conversations going on between B2B prospects and buyers about which solutions, and which brands, should be on their short lists. We recommend our B2B clients to have their ears firmly to the ground wherever such conversations are taking place – both online and offline – and to be ready to respond to salient topics and opportunities as they surface. “The Death of Propaganda” has much more to say on the subject, and I’ll try to make the new direction of  Voice of Customer as a term even clearer in posts to follow.

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Jonathan Winch

I’m Jonathan Winch, partner at cylindr and BBN International and a B2B marketing enthusiast. I've participated as a strategic and creative resource in the marketing and communication sphere for over 25 years, making contributions to the strategies and communications of companies of all sizes, the best known of which include Cisco, Hewlett-Packard, Danisco, GN ReSound, Hempel, Nokia Siemens Networks, LEGO, Coloplast, and Johnson & Johnson. My mission? To help B2B companies make the most of the value they create for the world. My hobby: Nutritional science, particularly sports nutrition.