Oct 21, 2022

Product Usage Is Silver, Qualitative Feedback Is Gold

Peter Armaly, Ferdinand Goetzen, Jeff Justice Williams, Sandy Yu, Kevin Vielbaum, Nick Woerner, Jeanne Hopkins, Chad Horenfeldt, Emily Ryan,

By Peter Armaly, Ferdinand Goetzen, Jeff Justice Williams, Sandy Yu, Kevin Vielbaum, Nick Woerner, Jeanne Hopkins, Chad Horenfeldt, Emily Ryan

 

Leaders at Slack, Oracle, Meta, Box, and more share how they ensure their customer’s voice is always heard.

The basic essence of Customer Success could be distilled to this: deliver the value customers expected to receive.

 

The most popular way to measure the value delivered today is to record the customer’s desired outcomes and check on progress over the year. That’s a noble endeavor, but will be a long-term losing strategy.  

 

The problem with desired outcomes is that the customer wants to solve a business problem, but the vendor can only track usage of the product (and sometimes ROI estimates).

 

Example: let’s say Gong acquires a new customer, Acmecorp, that wants to improve conversion rate of demo calls to opportunities. During onboarding, Gong offers these outcomes:

  • auto-identify 100 important video clips per rep
  • ensure sales managers view video clips 350 times
  • notify managers when reps are talking too much compared to customers

 

You see the problem? Acmecorp doesn’t care if Gong identified 100 clips. They don’t even care if managers viewed the clips. What they care about is “convert more demos”. Even if the conversion rate increases, no one can prove that the performance improvement happened because of Gong, the new Sales manager that was hired, the sales training program, the improved demo call script, or just that reps are converting bad opportunities. Someone at Acmecorp has to believe that the usage of Gong’s product will solve their problem.

 

And that’s why it’s so critical to have a listening program for your company. Product usage data is powerful for many reasons, but will never reveal the customer’s perception of value received. A listening program will allow you to determine how the customer perceives different parts of the journey, and help you understand the “why” behind customer behaviors.

 

For the purpose of this article, we’ll call the listening program Voice of Customer (VOC) because it’s the most well-known term. We compiled the best insights from a ‘nuffsaid podcast series we ran to help you begin on the journey of designing a mature program to collect, organize, and act on customer data—the most vital asset in your company’s possession.

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01/07 What does VoC mean to you and your company?

PETER ARMALY, VP OF CUSTOMER SUCCESS AT ESG
There are two main elements of VoC. One, VoC needs to be seen as an aggregate of a wide range of customer data inputs. Any way customers interact with your company, I would call that an input into VoC. I don’t like half measures, so I don't go for the old-fashioned idea that ‘survey equals Voice of the Customer program’—that mentality robs you of opportunities. You're missing probably 90% of the voice, so what’s the point?

The second part of VoC is what do you do with all the data. The program needs to be able to digest all that information, create both actionable insights and prescription to inside the company. Whoever internally receives data inputs should get it in a programmatic way, so they know what they need to action on.”

FERDINAND GOETZEN, CEO AT REVEALL
VoC is one of those floating terms. But I take it at really a point blank definition, which is this: VoC is the voice of the customer but it’s not necessarily always what you hear, it's also what you read. Any thoughts, opinions, ideas, and perspectives that your customers directly share with you and the world is VoC. I would essentially differentiate it from what your customers do. It’s more about what your customers share.

JEFF JUSTICE WILLIAMS, SR EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF ENTERPRISE SUCCESS AT BOX
It's easy to interpret VoC quite literally—what is the customer saying about your product, your company, and your service? This, at a fundamental level, is true. But if you go deeper into VoC you’ll see that it’s a capture of the effectiveness and impact of your full offerings as they might apply to your company's customers. It's bi-directional in that it feeds your internal resources, your programming, your planning, and also it serves as a customer serving output that helps your customers know what to expect from your company next.

There are a few components that fold into this, including product feedback, customer journey design, segmentation, and executive mapping. It means aligning all of those pieces with a clear awareness of how those levers help improve the product and customer experience.

SANDY YU, GLOBAL LEAD OF ORACLE CLOUD INFRASTRUCTURE ADVISORY BOARDS
Having a VoC program is really about setting an intention as an organization to not just listen to the customers, but also to use that customer data to increase the value that we're delivering. By creating this program, we’re saying, ‘We want to hear from you.’ So it's really important to actually act on the things that we hear from our customers.

KEVIN VIELBAUM, PROGRAM MANAGER OF VOC AT SLACK
For me personally, VoC is the team that’s really curious about why the product is the way it is for customers or why the overall experience is the way it is for customers. VoC orgs are able to dig around and look at the interconnectedness of what's going on in the company that's trickling down to the customer. So that could be the product itself. It could be the processes in which the customer is served that contributes to the experience. And it could even be how the organization is even structured and how decisions are made which have an impact on the customer. VoC goes beyond whether there's a feature that a customer wants. It's the whole aggregate experience that ultimately impacts whether or not your company's delivering value.

NICK WOERNER, DIRECTOR OF CX AT MINERAL
VoC is really this discipline of how you're listening, whether the customer's speaking or not. We are inundated with surveys as a society, so you can't completely rely on that as a means to hear the customer. You have to look at a whole host of channels to get the full customer experience picture. As a component of CX, VoC sometimes just gets translated as, ‘Well, it's our surveys.’ But I think it's a whole lot more than that.

JEANNE HOPKINS, CRO AT ONESCREEN.AI
There are several things that VoC should do for your organization.

  1. Reduce churn
  2. Increase revenue
  3. Improve internal relationships
  4. Help you build a better product

None of that will happen if you haven’t listened to your customers.

CHAD HORENFELDT, HEAD OF GLOBAL Suc, KUSTOMER AT META
VoC is a very broad term, but really simply, VoC is capturing customer sentiment. It could be about your product. It could be about your company. It could be about individual teams. But VoC is really about trying to understand the experiences your customers have with your company. And it's also about how future customers perceive your company and the industry.

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02/07 What are the typical channels where VoC data can be collected?

 

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NICK WOERNER, DIRECTOR OF CX AT MINERAL

NPS is like asking, ‘How was your flight?’ But when you take a trip, there are tons of micro experiences you had before and after your flight that affects your experience—from arriving at the airport, going through security, boarding your plane, actually flying, landing, leaving the airport, etc. Those are great points to measure experience as well. Make sure you’re collecting feedback with pulse checks at important intersections of the customer journey. 

 

KEVIN VIELBAUM, PROGRAM MANAGER OF VOC AT SLACK

Support pathways and help articles are two channels I don't think people necessarily look at as much as they should. Is there a help article that all your users seem to go to at some point? Why is that? Why are people so confused about using a certain feature or workflow? Your VoC team can identify trends like that, which provide a lot of insight into how to create a more frictionless experience.

JEFF JUSTICE WILLIAMS, SR EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF ENTERPRISE SUCCESS AT BOX

Understanding the ‘why’ behind gained or lost business is crucial. Look at all your customer interactions to pull insights from including closed lost deals in the sales funnel and postmortems for churned customers—those are two underrated channels to extract Voice of Customer data. Sometimes the Sales team neglects to assess lost deals and just looks at it as missed forecasted dollars. But they overlook that analyzing closed lost deals helps you understand market and product fit, and align directionally with Product and Engineering teams. 



 

“Look at all your customer interactions to pull insights from including closed lost deals in the sales funnel and postmortems for churned customers—those are two underrated channels to extract Voice of Customer data.” —Jeff Justice Williams

 

 

Likewise, on the back end of churn, Success often overlooks the post-mortem opportunity to understand why customers are leaving. There's real value to looking under the hood and extracting the nuggets that might help you to prevent future loss.

 

FERDINAND GOETZEN, CEO AT REVEALL

Everyone's talking to their customers. So often it's less a matter of collecting and more a matter of managing. Are you writing down customer feedback? Does Sales take note of the reasons they’re winning or losing deals? Do you read Support tickets regularly? Do you have a tool where you can manage customer conversations, read up on what they said, and derive insights? Companies put the bar very high for VoC and then get scared thinking, ‘Now I have to send out surveys, feedback forms, and have tons of interviews.’  But for most companies, a great starting point is just to think about, ‘Where am I already speaking to customers? And how can I make the most of those conversations?’

 

 

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