The fastest way to understand users: talk to a “VOC Aggregator”


Customer-service employees can be great VOC Aggregators.

What VOC Aggregators are, and why you need to find yours

According to Paul Graham of Y Combinator, to grow an early-stage web business, you should spend all of your waking hours on the following three activities:

  • Build the product
  • Talk to users
  • Exercise

We agree. We spend a good fraction of our time talking with our clients’ users. It’s priceless, but it’s also time-consuming.

So we also talk to people who spend their whole lives speaking with users. For example, salespeople, consultants, and customer-support staff. We call these people “Voice-Of-Customer Aggregators” (or “VOC Aggregators”). VOC Aggregators already understand the users. And they don’t just know facts like “The average user is 40 years old with 2.4 children”; they know the users intuitively, much like you know your own family. In fact, they can often second-guess how the users would react to a particular idea. Plus, because they speak with so many users, they know the relative importance of each issue. When you talk to a VOC Aggregator, you harness the wisdom of thousands of hours of conversations with users.

Of course, you still need to talk to users. But you can accelerate your understanding by identifying your market’s VOC Aggregators and then talking to them.

With this in mind, the updated formula would be:

  • Build the product
  • Talk to users—and to people who talk to users
  • Exercise

How to benefit from VOC Aggregation

Here’s what we recommend you do:

  1. Identify your own industry’s VOC Aggregators. They may be resellers, consultants, telesales people, customer-support people. They may work for your own company or for other companies in the same supply chain. They may work for online companies, mail-order companies, or bricks-and-mortar companies. So, for example, when we work for phone manufacturers, we spend a lot of time speaking with the staff of bricks-and-mortar phone stores.
  2. Talk to them. Ask them how they would sell your product. Their approach is likely to mirror the logic of how their customers buy.
  3. Implement as much of their feedback as you can. Add the rest to your product roadmap and marketing roadmap.

An example of VOC Aggregation

One of the roles of Conversion Rate Experts is to recommend marketing software to its clients. In this respect, we are a VOC Aggregator for marketing software. You might be interested to see this summary of our knowledge, which we created for vendors of marketing software. When you speak with your own industry’s VOC Aggregators, you may wish to ask them to create an equivalent document for your own situation.

Getting exercise

So what about the third point, “Exercise”?

Well, you could always get a treadmill desk like our founder Karl’s…

Our co-founder Karl on his treadmill desk.

Our co-founder Karl on his TR1200-DT3 Under Desk Treadmill.

And if you have any comments or questions about this article, contact us.



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