Technology vendors have invested in “voice of the customer” (VoC) programs, but not as much – or not as formally – in the user portion of that audience.
I think “voice of the customer” should really be “voices of the customer” since anyone listening to the customer will hear a chorus, not a single voice. In the case of enterprise software, those voices include stakeholders such as the business owner, procurement personnel, and executives.
Users are the most numerous voices in that chorus. “User” in this sense refers to the mass of people that actually use software that buyers select (I dislike the term “user”, but I haven’t found a better term yet so it will have to do).
The Voice of the User (VoU) is the interpretation of the actions of users through feedback collection and analytical techniques to help improve the user experience (UX) and customer experience (CX) of software.
Enterprise software users are often quite different from buyers. They have different demographics, level in the organization, digital skills, benefits obtained from software, and goals. Unless it’s software meant for managers or techies, these people are staff level and non-technical.
All of this makes users the most interesting voice to me. They are also the least researched. The reasons, as described to me by clients and peers, is that users don’t hold the checkbook. And for some categories of software they may not have much impact on buying decisions (see my blog post Is it Understandable That Some Vendors Care More About User Experience Than Others?).
For vendors and system owners who consider user satisfaction and adoption a core competency and want to know how to improve user experience I recommend our new document Cultivate the Voice of the User to Generate High-Value Adoption of Software Products. You can also hear more in a replay of our webinar 3 Ways Users Influence a Continuous Software Evaluation Cycle.
Happy users means happy system owners and buyers, which means happy vendors. That’s a lot of happiness to go around!