In Customer Experience Management, the Voice of the Customer (VoC) stands out as a popular and powerful tool. It is easy to start and as we build our skills, it takes us on a transformative journey as we progress from fixing issues to driving disruption. VoC also sheds light on evolving customer expectations.

Of course, this journey demands effort—and we need skills such as data management, analytics, empathy, and change management. No wonder VoC platforms have thrived and innovated. Even before the buzz around generative AI, these platforms leveraged Natural Language Processing (NLP) to extract meaning from customer feedback.

Throughout the gather-analyse-share-act cycle, VoC platforms handle mundane tasks releasing time for human creativity and relationship building. They also tackle the challenge of managing vast data lakes from disparate sources.

Yet, CX professionals often find themselves inundated with insights and recommendations and have no clear path forward. Senior stakeholders wield the same data, initiating swift actions that feel good, but rarely deliver. Peers challenge what they see as intangible data. And tangible results remain elusive.

What’s the missing piece?

Often, we turn to technology too hastily. We grapple with data without truly recognising its nuances or how to leverage insights effectively. My recommendation? Begin with manual analysis—an essential first step in any VoC activity. By the way, let’s discard time bound terms like “programme” or “project”. VoC thrives as a continuous practice.

Returning to manual work, understanding data allows us to share and contextualise it. We can engage with critics, demonstrating our thought process. The data becomes a catalyst for action, inspiring positive change. And most of all we can learn what we need from the technology. Then we can buy a VoC platform that supports our ways of working and delivers a very visible return on investment.

The creators of these invaluable tools are meeting our needs through innovation. Leveraging generative AI, they provide:

  • Insights and recommendations – we all know how hard reading charts or wading through verbatims can be. With generative AI several platforms now give plain language recommendations.
  • Marketing collateral – stuck working out how to describe a product or answer an FAQ? One platform will write content for you using the words and expressions of your customers.

Other advanced tools:

  • Decode sentiment and emotion – we are all familiar with Customer Experience Measures such as NPS, CSAT and CES, but many platforms now tell us what drives those scores, some offer a score based on verbatims and you can even uncover customer emotions.
  • Simplify complex journeys to pinpoint improvement opportunities – no customer journey is linear, but some are even more complex. A platform I reviewed recently supports multiple ways of looking at journeys so clients know what to work on.
  • Support strategic objectives while illustrating customer experiences – a few platforms support data structures aligned to strategic objectives, for example, speed of checkout and report against those objectives. Perfect for prioritising action.

Over the past six months, I’ve witnessed the emergence of these new features and more. However, using a Voice of the Customer (VoC) platform is akin to any type of automation.

Garbage in- garbage out

The adage ‘garbage in, garbage out’ extends beyond mere data—it applies to the processes we automate, our requirements, and our purchasing criteria. It even influences the relationships we build as we harness the Voice of the Customer.

Looking ahead, I foresee continued innovation across various platforms. Every vendor I know is:

  • Attentively listening to feedback from their clients.
  • Addressing niche opportunities at the agile end of the market.
  • Equipping insight-hungry organisations with comprehensive features on the corporate side.

Yet, technology, features, data, and analysis alone fall short. Success lies in selecting the right product for the right purpose and using it effectively. I believe this focus on alignment with value is the next significant advancement in VoC.

If I could offer one piece of advice to maximise your financial, time, and reputational investments in VoC, it would be this:

  • Be crystal clear about your requirements.
  • Use them to choose the ideal partner for your organisation.
  • Ensure you create the business capabilities you need to drive meaningful change 

Can we make this happen?

When you are ready to invest in a VoC platform buy it like any capital investment. Understand your needs, not just the headlines like ‘close the loop’, but what that means in your organisation. Your requirements should cover the gather-analyse-share-act cycle and consider the support you need to implement your VoC ways of working – from reporting through to education and governance. Consider how platforms are priced, integrations and data protection. This is the VoC equivalent of measure twice, cut once.

Third-party reviews of platforms can help you work out what you need, and which platforms will meet your requirements.

Get involved

Would you like to contribute to some third-party reviews? Knowing what you look for and value in a VoC platform will help you evaluate your current VoC activities. Take this survey, and allow your valuable input to better VoC platforms for us all. 

Let’s invest in VoC platforms and better them together. If we want our customers happy and 100% satisfied, we should be doing all we can to reach their voices successfully.

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