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The VOC, CRM, & CEM Convergence

I’m participating in the Gartner CRM conference today. Some of the major themes of the conference include customer feedback, customer experience and customer relationship management (CRM). I like the direction things are heading–a convergence between CRM, marketing, voice of the customer (VOC) and customer experience. There’s no doubt that business leaders are getting more savvy, but so is the technology.

What does this mean for all of us? As business practitioners, we have the opportunity to use advanced technology to accomplish things that we have wished would happen for years (i.e. being able to connect CRM, which delivers the who, what, where, when and why of the customer transactional world, with the ‘why’ obtained through attitudinal customer surveys and customer feedback collection). Reaching out to customers who talk about a company, but not to that company through social media text analysis. The ability to create a dialog with customers through multiple channels, such as SMS/text, and other up-and-coming modes of communications is becoming critical.

Jim Davis, Ed Thomson, and Gareth Herschel with Gartner have a solid feel for where the market is headed. They have presented thoughts about how to connect with customer to improve the customer experience. In the end though, the “raising of the game” by all practitioners and leaders must happen, too. In my conversations with other practitioners, I’ve found that there is a general lack of understanding about the role that feedback plays within an organization. Most practitioners seem to think that a yearly satisfaction survey is enough, or even that an event-driven survey, such as receipt surveys, will provide them with what they need to hear the voice of the customer. Not true. A true VOC program is more comprehensive, using various surveys, unsolicited feedback collection and predictive analytics to drive true business change.

I’d like to ask for your help in “raising our game.” I’m compiling a paper about how to build a VOC launch plan. If you have developed any plans in the past for launching a VOC or customer experience program, please send them to me (i.e. altered to protect sensitive information, if needed) and I will contact you to ask some follow up questions. Send them to

Chris Cottle, VP of Marketing, Allegiance