Product Managers are the unsung heroes of business. The ones who stay up late strategizing, balancing customer feedback with company vision, and making tough decisions about what features to ship next. But how do you avoid the tyranny of one? And why should you?

Over thousands of years, humans developed unique social and collaborative skills. For the most part—about 300,000 years—we based our fight-or-flight decisions on personal threat. In short, we learned to pay closest attention to the people and things directly in front of us.

The digital age, measured from the launch of the iPhone in 2007, has been with Homo sapiens for around 0.005% or our time on earth. Unsurprisingly, prehistoric traits haunt our modern behavior.

Our historic training is designed to filter out far-away threats and seek the most urgent, dramatic, high-impact news, delivered in-person, that affects someone or something physically close. A neighbor reporting a single, exceptional mugging on her street is way more important than rampant crime in Distantville.

We are a million digital miles away from being chased by tigers, yet we constantly fall prey to our old instincts. A voice in the boardroom, an up-close and personal experience, gains more attention than the distant sound of unhappy users. Similarly, we notice celebrity and influencer endorsements because we (mistakenly) think we know them and are therefore somehow close to them.

OK, you know what’s coming…

The same applies for Voice of Customer (VoC). We tend to listen to the most urgent, compelling, exciting story. “Hey, if only we could do X!” yells the loudest voice in the room. Product development strategy can easily become dominated by The Tyranny of One, because it is close, or dramatic, or delivered personally that we make the false conclusion that it’s the most urgent.

Yet the huge majority of customer comments will likely be generated by folks who live in the digital equivalent of Distantville. Feedback that arrives through multiple channels as anonymous, unstructured data, which we rank as unimportant. Our ingrained behavior downgrades voices that are not close, dramatic, or personal.

For the users on these channels—Twitter, Insta, Snapchat, Facebook, you name it—their feedback is as personal as it gets. From the product development and business growth perspective, these tweets, posts, pictures and comments are packed with precious jewels. 

Running a Voice of Customer program at scale is no easy feat, but the rewards are worth it. Companies who have found success know this to be true and will tell you that building an scaled-up program quickly becomes one of their biggest advantages in terms or value created; 10x revenue growth rates with increased upselling/cross selling successes by 20% leading directly to 55% better retention rates.

At this point, at just the right moment, AI enters the frame. 

AI can detect and surface actionable Voice of Customer insights from thousands of data streams, without bias (and without sleep, another deep-seated human habit!). AI makes it possible to capture and understand customer sentiment in real time, and analyze the trends that could influence product strategy and development—and ultimately, growth.

Caravel offers AI-powered technology that can bring your Voice of Customer program into the digital age. By excluding personal subjectivity, a VoC program powered by Caravel generates consistent results with a transparent process. With Caravel you get an all-in-one hub for customer feedback that uses AI to automatically analyze all of your responses and guide your teams to action.

For companies setting a product-led growth strategy, Programmatic Voice of Customer is vital to success, and AI is leading the way.

Reach out here and we'd be delighted to help.