Another driver for VOC programs is the social Web's growing clout as a consumer sounding board. In a first-quarter 2011 consumer survey by Temkin Group, about 20% of the respondents said that they had used Facebook to report a bad experience, while 13% said that they had used it to report a good experience. Moreover, 11% had reported a bad experience on third-party review sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor, and 7% had used such sites to report good experiences.
Still, many business leaders remain wary of data garnered from social media, which can be less than accurate or reliable, to say the least. Temkin Group's third-quarter 2010 survey found that only 22% of VOC programs were currently using social media sources, although 35% were considering doing so.
A look at the pricing of some 'voice of the customer' tools:
Lithium (social community, SaaS): The full suite, for midsize to large companies, costs $7,500 to $10,000 per month.
Dow Jones Insight (social intelligence): Priced at $5,000 to $30,000 per month, depending on size of the installation, number of topics analyzed and number of languages supported.
Clarabridge Enterprise (customer insight/action): Pricing starts at six figures per year and depends on volume, services and support.
WiseWindow (social intelligence): Priced at $10,000 to $12,000 per month.
Business executives and business analysts want to ensure that the quality of the feedback data they incorporate into critical decisions is comparable to that of the internal data they've been using. And IT executives need to ensure that their staffs and systems aren't overwhelmed by a flood of irrelevant or low-quality data.
That isn't stopping some companies from incorporating valuable social media data into their VOC programs. But rather than try to "boil the ocean," as one analyst put it, they are limiting their range to sources that are specific to their products and customers. Charming Shoppes, for example, is looking to monitor its Lane Bryant customer community site, known as Inside Curve, and its Facebook fan pages, Liss says. "Our customers tend to be vocal and active on plus-size women's blogs," he adds.
During the past few years, customer intelligence professionals, such as marketing and brand managers, have increasingly turned to social media intelligence services like Radian6, Scout Labs (now Lithium Technologies) and BuzzMetrics, which gather customer feedback from the social Web. The service providers then analyze the data for relevance and sentiment and present the resulting intelligence in prepackaged reports, charts and "social dashboards."