BI: 'Voice of the customer' programs combine feedback in one place

Early adopters are working out the kinks, but say customer responses sent to the right people, quickly, can have major business impact.

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Less talk, more action

Right now, most companies are still figuring out the critical components of their VOC programs: what data to look for, what metrics to use, and most important, what action to take, according to Temkin. "Feedback is cheap, actionable insights are priceless," he says.

IT and business leaders should not become discouraged: Even early stage VOC programs can get good results, according to Temkin. "Once you get into actually quantifying how customers view you, it starts changing how your people think about the business," he explains. "They start to spot customer issues and put in place processes where they can highlight and start to solve the big problems. And the big payback is customer loyalty."

Liss definitely has some ideas. For example, monitoring blogs will give his employees an early heads up on buying trends. "If all of a sudden plus-size women are talking about how comfortable a certain fabric is, we can study it for use it in our products," he says.

Charming Shoppes' VOC team has already developed a dashboard, including a one-page document that each brand group uses in its monthly business review. This enables groups to share their insights, according Liss. "Right now it's just the highlights -- major feedback that's actionable -- but we'll build from there," he says.

Horwitt, a freelance reporter and former Computerworld senior editor, is based in Waban, Mass. Contact her at

Editor's note: The pricing information for Clarabridge and Dow Jones Insight was incorrect as originally published. This story was updated on July 20 to fix the errors.

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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