Best Practices

The challenges all VoC teams face—and how to overcome them

Voice of the Customer (VoC) programs are designed to help streamline feedback intake, analysis, and action. They hold internal teams accountable, establish workflows to feed ideas into product plans, and create communication pathways that ensure customers feel heard and valued.

But getting to the point where your VoC program runs like a well-oiled machine doesn’t just happen overnight. And if you’re setting up a VoC program from scratch or scaling your efforts, you’ll likely face a few hurdles along the way.

Here’s the good news: Knowing the common challenges that most VoC veterans have faced can give you a healthy head start on your journey to customer experience (CX) greatness. Here are the top five challenges we’ve seen most VoC teams grapple with—and how to overcome them.

Changing hearts and minds

The first challenge most new VoC leaders and teams face is, oftentimes, the hardest: building buy-in with the rest of the organization. Particularly for companies that haven’t historically taken a CX-centric approach to their operations, leaning into customer feedback can feel daunting. 

It requires change management and a mindset shift—from an inside-out product development approach, to embracing ideas from the outside in. And it asks people across the organization to be open to feedback and recommendations that may not be their own. Silos can also be a hang-up for teams looking to build VoC programs, especially for enterprise organizations or distributed teams who don’t have a clear line of sight into other teams’ projects or processes in place to enable cross-functional collaboration.

As a VoC champion, it’s important to clearly articulate the “why.” Tell the story about why VoC is more important now than ever, how it drives competitive advantage, and the positive outcomes you expect from inviting your customers to contribute to your product development process. By showing your executives the data and demonstrating the power of feedback to inform initiatives across all parts of your organization—including product, marketing, research and development, customer experience (CX), support, and sales, to name a few—you can start to lay the groundwork for VoC and set your program up for success.

Building scalable systems

Another critical challenge most new VoC teams face is figuring out exactly what tools they need to build and scale effective VoC programs. Where will the data live? How will it be captured? How will you identify themes and share your findings? 

And then there’s the matter of ownership. Who will own the VoC program? Who is responsible for triaging the incoming feedback? By nature, VoC programs expand the sense of ownership over your product to a broader audience. So as you scale your VoC systems, it’s important to establish clear processes so all that great data doesn’t get lost, go unacted on, or suffer from being touched by “too many cooks in the kitchen.”

As you start building your VoC program, look for systems that both meet your business needs today and give you the flexibility to expand your efforts tomorrow. While exporting your feedback data to a spreadsheet and manually sorting themes might seem good enough at first, a more dynamic and actionable tool is critical to help you scale and build a truly effective VoC program.

Missing the full picture

While quantitative data is valuable for tracking customer sentiment, it doesn’t give you the full picture of how your customers are experiencing your product or brand. And while it’s great for measuring and tracking activity trends over time, it lacks valuable qualitative context that can help you find the root cause of any issues or patterns. Effective VoC programs balance and bring together both quantitative data and qualitative data—giving you a unified view of your customers’ health and happiness, as well as the “why” behind their behaviors. 

As you establish your VoC practice, it’s important to look for tools that allow you to evaluate your quantitative and qualitative customer data in tandem. This will help your team correlate the feedback you’re receiving to what’s really going on inside your products—so you can ultimately solve the right problems, for the right users, and the right time.

In conjunction with the full Pendo platform, Pendo Feedback allows product and VoC teams to segment and analyze both quantitative usage data and qualitative feedback to form a complete understanding of the product and customer experience. This approach allows teams across the organization to connect the dots between what customers are saying and what they are doing, so that challenges can be triaged appropriately.

Making all that data actionable

For many organizations, processing VoC data is an incredibly time-consuming process. It requires poring through sometimes-massive data sets to uncover themes, digging into supporting testimonials, and reporting those findings out to the right teams (who will hopefully act on them). It can be a challenge to staff appropriately for this many-pronged process and ensure the right tools are in place to work through all that feedback efficiently—and without bias.

Machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) could have a vital role to play in how VoC teams manage their customer feedback data in the future. Here at Pendo, we’re building out our ML and AI capabilities within Pendo Feedback to help VoC teams more easily tag and extract themes from their feedback data. This helps free up the VoC and product organizations to focus on higher-value tasks, while speeding up the cycle from data collection to action. 

And for product teams in particular, feedback can be a powerful well of inspiration for roadmaps. This doesn’t mean committing to everything your customers are asking for—though VoC feedback is often a great way to understand exactly which features your customers want (and will be most likely to use). VoC feedback can also help validate projects that are already in your roadmap. With a tool like Pendo Feedback, your customers and internal teams alike can engage with already-requested items in your product plan through upvotes and prioritization—giving you even more insight into the highest-value opportunities and optimizations for your product.

Closing the loop

Picture this. You start using a new product. A few weeks later, you’re asked to share your feedback about your experience so far. You diligently fill out the survey you were provided, hit submit, and off into the ether it goes. You expect someone to get back in touch to discuss your feedback—or at least some kind of follow up to confirm you’ve been heard—but… crickets. That’s what we call not closing the loop. And it can be hugely detrimental to a company’s brand perception.

Without the right systems and tools in place, it can be incredibly complicated—or even impossible—to follow up with every customer who shares feedback with your organization. Even if your customers’ ideas don’t make it into your product, it’s important to close the loop with them to ensure they continue to engage with you and provide input when you ask for it in the future.

As you set up your VoC program, look for tools that allow you to assign tasks or feedback requests to the specific teams or individuals who need to act on them. Track your customers’ feedback—as well as any outstanding needs or actions taken on it—in a clear and accessible place. Finally, find a tool that helps automate communication processes. For example, Pendo Feedback automatically notifies anyone who votes or comments on a feedback request when its status changes—saving product and CX teams valuable time and ensuring every participant in the process is kept up to date.

Starting your VoC program on a firm foundation will pay dividends down the road. By taking the time to build buy-in and implement the right systems today, you’ll help ensure you’re able to create products that delight—and deliver the value your customers demand—tomorrow.