The Gist

  • Are you listening? Voice of Customer (VoC) tools are software platforms that enable brands to collect, analyze and act on feedback from their customers across various channels, with the main objective of obtaining actionable insights that can help businesses enhance the overall customer experience.
  • A recipe for customer feedback. Best-of-breed VoC tools include data collection, analysis and reporting, sentiment analysis, text analytics, social media monitoring, customer journey mapping, and integration with other systems.
  • COVID-19 impact. The pandemic affected the way that customers interacted with businesses and also impacted the way that brands approached VoC, which affected the most vital metrics.

Voice of Customer (VoC) tools are advanced software platforms and solutions that enable brands to collect, analyze and act on feedback from their customers across various channels. These channels can include surveys, customer service interactions, product reviews, chat history, social media, website analytics, and more. The main objective of VoC tools is to obtain actionable insights that can help businesses eliminate the pain points in the customer journey and enhance the overall customer experience.

VoC tools offer an effective way for businesses to gain a deep understanding of their customers' preferences, opinions and experiences. With these tools, brands can pinpoint areas for improvement and make data-driven decisions to enhance their products or services. In this article, we will look at some best-of-breed VoC tools, discuss how they are used, their challenges, and how they can improve the customer experience.

Core Functionality of Best-of-Breed Voice of Customer Tools

Gartner defines a VoC application as “one that integrates feedback collection, analysis, and action into a single interconnected platform that helps understand and improve the customer experience.” Because VoC is all about listening to customers and collecting their feedback through various channels, however, the tools used for VoC are not limited to software specifically dedicated to VoC. Channels such as social media, customer support interactions, and online reviews can provide valuable insights for VoC as well. That said, some of the core features of best-of-breed VoC tools include:

  • Data Collection: Enables brands to aggregate customer feedback from various channels including surveys, social media, customer support interactions, and online reviews.
  • Analysis and Reporting: Advanced analytics are used to analyze the feedback that has been collected from customers and provide actionable insights to businesses in the form of reports, dashboards, and visualizations.
  • Sentiment Analysis: Sentiment analysis is used to understand the emotional tone of customer feedback, helping brands gauge customer satisfaction and identify areas for improvement.
  • Text Analytics: Text analytics are used to identify keywords and phrases in customer feedback that are relevant to a brand, enabling it to identify trends and patterns in customer feedback.
  • Social Media Monitoring: Social media monitoring enables a brand to identify and determine what is being said about a brand and its products & services on social media and other online channels.
  • Customer Journey Mapping: This enables brands to map all the stages of the customer journey, enabling them to identify pain points and take action to improve the customer experience.
  • Integration With Other Systems: Best-of-breed VoC platforms are able to be integrated with other systems such as CRM, marketing automation, and customer service platforms.

Gartner also recommends that VoC applications provide a way for brands to take action using the insights that they have obtained through VoC through the use of alerts, workflows, case assignments, and recommendations. This is based on a recent Gartner report that revealed that CMOs and other CX leaders rarely use customer feedback data to encourage organization-wide customer-centric behaviors because they tend to rely on data-only dashboards, rather than reports that tell them why the data matters and what actions to take.

Related Article: Voice of the Customer (VoC): Much More Than a Satisfied Customer

What Are VoC Metrics?

VoC metrics are key performance indicators (KPIs) that allow brands to identify the business challenges they are dealing with, the effectiveness of marketing campaigns, the pain points in the customer journey, and what can be done to enhance and improve customer loyalty. VoC tools enable brands to determine their score on particular metrics, which lets them know if their customers are satisfied with the brand’s performance, or not. VoC metrics are useful for specific customer experience goals: 

  • The Net Promoter Score (NPS) gauges customers' willingness to recommend a product or service to their loved ones or colleagues, reflecting their overall satisfaction and loyalty.
  • The Customer Effort Score (CES) reflects the belief that customers prefer easy and frictionless experiences. By measuring the amount of effort customers have to put in to resolve an issue, the CES provides insights into their satisfaction and loyalty.
  • The Overall Satisfaction Score (OCS) is not the most reliable predictor of future financial performance but remains a popular metric in transactional surveys. The OCS provides a high-level view of customers' satisfaction with a product or service and can help identify areas for improvement.
  • The Loyalty Index measures customers' loyalty to a brand or product by analyzing their responses to a series of questions. By averaging their scores, the index provides a comprehensive picture of customers' loyalty behavior, enabling businesses to identify ways to increase customer retention and advocacy.

Because the pandemic affected the way that customers interacted with businesses, it also affected the way that brands approached VoC, and affected the metrics that are the most vital, as discussed in the CMSWire article entitled, How Has Pandemic Thinking Affected VoC?.

Related Article: Voice of the Customer: What Is It and Why Does It Matter for CX?

How Is AI Being Used in VoC Tools?

AI is being leveraged in VoC tools to enhance various features, but it is particularly noteworthy for the improvements it brings to accuracy and efficiency. According to a Gartner report, by 2025, 60% of organizations with Voice of Customer programs will supplement traditional surveys by analyzing voice and text interactions with customers using Natural Language Processing (NLP). The report indicated that not only can speech and text analytics tools using NLP provide insights through post-transaction analysis, but they can also provide real-time insights that can be used at the moment to impact the customer experience. AI is also being used in VoC for:

  • Sentiment Analysis: AI-powered sentiment analysis algorithms are able to accurately identify the emotional tone of customer feedback, enabling brands to understand the level of customer satisfaction and identify areas for improvement.
  • Predictive Analytics: Current customer feedback trends are used by AI-powered predictive analytics algorithms to identify the potential issues that may arise in the future, enabling brands to proactively address these issues before they become pain points in the customer journey.
  • Reporting and Visualization: It is often challenging to present the insights that have been obtained through VoC in a way that employees in customer-facing departments can understand. AI-powered reporting and visualization algorithms are able to analyze large amounts of customer feedback data and present it in an easy-to-understand format, allowing brands to quickly identify trends and patterns in customer feedback.
  • Speech Recognition: By using AI-powered speech recognition algorithms, brands can more effectively transcribe and analyze customer phone calls and provide insights into customer sentiment, needs, and preferences.

Best-of-Breed VoC Platforms

There are several best-of-breed Voice of Customer platforms available in the market, each with its own unique features and capabilities. Many of the most popular and widely used platforms are not advertised as being strictly VoC platforms, but most are focused on customer experience and customer feedback analysis. Here are a few of the top platforms for VoC:

Learning Opportunities

  • ConcentrixCX: ConcentrixCX is billed as a feedback management solution and enables brands to obtain actionable insights from all of a brand’s channels, including email surveys, SMS, web intercepts, digital feedback tabs, in-app, messaging channels, connected IoT devices, IVR, and telephone.
  • Qualtrics: Qualtrics is a comprehensive experience management platform that offers a range of features including survey creation and distribution, customer journey mapping, sentiment analysis, text analytics, and real-time reporting. Their platform is focused on customer journey optimization, analytics, and orchestration.
  • Enterpret: Billed as a customer feedback analytics platform for product teams, Enterpret is designed to ensure that no customer pain points go unnoticed, and enables brands to prioritize the customer roadmap, spot emerging feedback trends and anomalies, and integrate with product analytics to obtain actionable insights.
  • Medallia: Medallia is a cloud-based enterprise-level customer experience management platform that offers a range of features including feedback collection, analysis and reporting, sentiment analysis, text analytics, and closed-loop feedback management. It is designed to provide brands with insights to improve customer experience, contact center experience, employee experience, and digital experience.
  • Salesforce: Salesforce is a full-featured customer relationship management (CRM) platform with many features that can be used for VoC, including customer data management, marketing automation, feedback collection and analysis, and customer journey mapping. Its newest feature, Einstein GPT, combines generative AI models with real-time CRM data to deliver personalized content across every customer interaction.
  • AskNicely: AskNicely is a customer feedback platform with features including NPS (Net Promoter Score) tracking, feedback collection, and closed-loop feedback management, and enables brands to collect and act on customer feedback in real time.

Online Reviews and Feedback Speak Volumes

Online reviews are useful to provide brands with customer feedback about their products and services, though they can be tough to come by. James Feldman, CSP at Shift Happens, an entrepreneurial Master's Class eLearning provider, suggested the popular VoC tool, Trustpilot, for online reviews. Trustpilot is an online review platform that enables businesses to collect and manage customer feedback through reviews. “It offers features such as automated review invitations, reputation management, and sentiment analysis,” said Feldman. “By utilizing these tools, businesses can gain valuable insights into their customers' experiences, identify areas for improvement, and take action to improve the overall customer experience."

David Beasley, CEO and founder of Design For Recovery, an LA-based structured sober living community for men, told CMSWire that because the success of the day-to-day operations of the sober living community is dependent on how his clients feel about the care and services that they receive, his organization highly values client feedback. As such, there are specific VoC tools that have proven to be successful. “Although we have paper-based survey forms and feedback interviews to help us with that, we found using a VoC tool to be more efficient, effective, and in-depth,” said Beasley. 

“The VoC tool that we’re using, MonkeyLearn, is fully-online and can be easily accessed and integrated into the other software that we’re using like Zendesk, Google Forms, and Google Sheets.” MonkeyLearn is an AI-powered no-code text analysis tool that enables businesses to clean, label, and visualize customer feedback. “As a VoC tool, MonkeyLearn also gave us the ability to not just obtain customer feedback but also analyze it in real time,” said Beasley.

Even no-code VoC tools have a learning curve, as do most of the VoC tools we’ve mentioned. “One of the biggest challenges that we faced when we started to use MonkeyLearn was getting all members of our team to learn how to use it,” explained Beasley. “It had a learning curve, especially with using the machine learning aspect and importing the data from our pre-existing apps.” Beasley said that he was able to overcome the challenge by getting help from an onboarding specialist who guided his team through the use of the VoC tool.

Final Thoughts on VoC: Path to Customer-Centricity

The Voice of Customer has taken on a new level of importance over the past few years as more brands have become customer-centric. The use of artificial intelligence, machine learning and natural language processing have improved the accuracy and efficiency of VoC, and are now part of many VoC tools.

Like other martech platforms, VoC tools have a learning curve, but are extremely useful to gain a better understanding of the customer while providing actionable insights that allow brands to eliminate pain points in the customer journey and improve the customer experience.