Voice of The Customer Programs -Best Practices

Today is going to be a bit different. I am going to challenge my readers to take initiative to inform me, after I finish discussing this, what voice of the customer programs are even supposed to mean. Because frankly, I don’t know, my colleagues don’t know and the internet certainly doesn’t know. I think this most likely is probably the most heinous example of the buzzword effect in the history of mankind. You be the judge as we talk about this.

What I Want to Say:

Well, I’ll first explain why I think voice of the customer programs is an absolutely daft term that means nothing intrinsically. After that, I’ll try to explain what I think people mean by it ontologically. Ontology like this, by the way, has no place in business science and so we’re all sinners today!

After I say what I think this means, I’ll give advice based on that … which violates my usual standards I might add.

Why This is Daft and What I Think People Mean:

Because if it means what I think it means, when said by people, all it refers to are methodologies through which customers can express their criticisms, praise and suggestions or requests to a company.

So, this should probably actually be just called by its proper umbrella term as “user commentary/input”. Hence why this is just another one of those horrible, confusing buzzwords that should never even exist.

Various things could be called this, such as surveys, suggestion forms, social network channels, web forums and other such things.

Some Suggestions:

Well, first of all, there exist a few channels for this, and in modernity (and more as time continues to pass), there are some that are inherently better than others.

Active surveys and focus groups are actually only useful in small doses, because people are aware their output being listened to, out of a natural tendency to be polite and considerate of feelings. This is a derivation of the Heisenberg effect, and it’s a common problem.

Business intelligence, however, is much less intrusive and far more effective, because it listens to the channels over which people are honest and casual. They speak their opinions openly over the internet in forums, commentary channels and social networks.

Business intelligence systems can track mentions, record positive and negative feedback, and to harvest all the suggestions and other such things which people are just outputting with no direct intention to do so.

Along with this, having a static input form where customers can go and just say what they mean is also pretty helpful, though expect a lot of hostility over this channel, as people tend to only go and speak their minds in this fashion when irritated or when they feel they have a critique to make.

Even if they don’t mean to do so, customers tend to be hostile in this practice, as this is human nature.

That said, this is what I think voice of the customer programs is meant to mean. If it was software, well, I have no suggestions beyond that BI software for it. If it means something else, I challenge all you readers to say what you think this is supposed to mean, and make a case to support your conclusions.


Amy Clark is the Lead Author & Editor of IWantItNow Blog. Amy established the Customer Engagement blog to create a source for news and discussion about some of the issues, challenges, news, and ideas relating to customer service, support and engagement.