Are you looking for a vendor or vendors to support your voice of the customer (VoC) program? Or are you reviewing your current VoC vendor(s)? Selecting the right vendor or vendors can be hard! Why? The VoC vendor landscape is difficult to decipher. There are many but relatively small vendors, and they rely on an interconnected network of partners, acquire each other at an impressive rate, and regularly expand into new spaces. And companies often already have a number of vendors they work with. In my recent webinar about VoC, most of the attendees had from three to five vendors that supported their VoC program in some shape or form. But there are a few beacons to help orient you in your quest:
– The VoC vendor market is an ecosystem. What vendors are the right “lid” for your “VoC program pot” depends entirely on your internal capabilities and the characteristics of your VoC program. We identified customer feedback management (CFM) platforms and VoC specialist vendors. CFM platforms support VoC programs with a robust set of capabilities that include feedback collection, integration of feedback with other data in a centralized data hub, analysis, reporting, and closed-loop action management. VoC specialists offer a subset of VoC platform vendor capabilities. Their areas of expertise range from surveying customers in order to generate measurement data to mining your unstructured feedback with text analytics, monitoring social media data, and consulting to help establish or evolve a VoC program.
– Look at how VoC vendors can support your key VoC tasks. Although vendors in the same category are alike in many ways, there are also some significant differences you need to take into account. For example, in capabilities like advanced survey management, advanced analysis, data integration, responding to customer feedback, and supporting processes to improve taking action on customer feedback.
– Exercise due diligence and look beyond capabilities. Ask yourself which professional services your program requires, whether you need an on-premises solution or a software-as-a-service (SaaS) solution, what pricing models work best for the types and volumes of your data sources, and whether you need a local vendor office in certain countries. Read more about this in our latest research. We at Forrester just published two reports (based on a survey among VoC vendors) to answer some key questions we get from CX professionals:
– “Voice Of The Customer Vendor Landscape, 2014.” What does the complex VoC vendor ecosystem look like? What are the capabilities of some of those vendors? How will the VOC vendor market evolve in the future? (Hint: We will see some consolidation.)
– “Voice Of The Customer Vendor Go-To-Market Strategies, 2014.” What are other factors that drive success in vendor relationships, and how should you go about selecting a vendor? So in detail, this report answers questions like which vendors offer SaaS versus on-premises solutions? Where do they have offices? Which pricing models do they offer? What kind of professional services do they offer? What are your challenges when selecting the right VoC vendor(s)? We’d love to hear from you.
About the author: Maxie Schmidt-Subramanian is a Senior Analyst at Forrester Research.