When building new features or defining your positioning strategy, there’s one voice that has to have a seat at the table…
Your Customers 👥
Without them, you build features that never get adopted or you market to an audience that you don’t really know.
This is why having a Voice of the Customer (VoC) program at a company is incredibly important and in this post, we are going to be learning about how to listen, act and analyze your customer’s voice!
We are recapping the episode “Giving voice to the customer to drive strategy (Lauren Culbertson, LoopVOC)” from the Gain Grow Retain podcast.
Lauren Culbertson is the Co-Founder & CEO of Loop, a market intelligence and Voice of the Customer software. Before starting Loop, Lauren was a Product Manager back when market research took too long to complete (this is what drove her to start Loop).
The Gain Grow Retain podcast is hosted by Jeff Breunsbach and Jay Nathan. They focus on sharing conversations about growing and scaling subscription businesses with a customer-first approach. They’re also the founders of Customer Imperative, a consulting firm that helps companies scale their revenue growth in a customer-centric way.
Let’s get into our 3 takeaways:
Why the “Listening” phase is so hard
Who owns VoC
How to analyze your data
Why the “listening” phase is so hard
Listening… It sounds pretty simple, yet a lot of companies, big and small, struggle with this.
And it’s easy to see why! it takes a cross-collaborative effort to make it work. Feedback is coming from everywhere/ multiple teams and centralizing it is the hardest part. Without this step, it’s very challenging to have a listening program because the listening phase relies on functional areas coming together to provide sources of data.
A lot of times when Lauren is starting out talking to companies, Loop uses online reviews and when she takes this back to the Success team/Success leaders, there’s an immediate bad thought about online reviews.
“They don’t know enough about marketing and that’s not good feedback”
But those reviews are actually extremely insightful because it’s customers filling out NPS surveys that may be going deeper into an issue. Those surveys shouldn’t be classified as “marketing fluff”, they truly hold valuable feedback.
Essentially, you have to trust each team is doing their part in this cross-functional effort and the most successful teams Lauren has seen are the ones where there’s a topdown initiative that makes VoC a priority, it starts with leadership!
Who owns Voice of Customer(VoC)
So who owns Voice of the Customer?
Since VoC is a cross-functional initiative, Lauren has seen most success when companies form a cross-functional team instead of assigning it to a specific team or person. What holds companies back is the idea that you need to add additional headcount to do this. But when there are fractional people from each function participating and you have a designated person (i.e., a quarterback), it works best!
Jay and Jeff also add that where they’ve seen companies doing this well, there’s a program management function that’s helping drive it, not a full headcount. A Customer Strategy team is something they work to set up with clients and that’s when there’s a certain subset of the entire executive team come together regularly to review metrics that are current about customer experience (i.e., NPS, CSAT). From there, the executives set priorities around customer experience across all departments. The helpful thing is having someone take ownership of scheduling all meetings. This person could be from Customer Experience or Success Ops. You want this person to be in a role that has program management behind it.
Lauren shares that she was a quarterback in the past and she mentioned that the meetings were 101% more effective when there were executives present. Every function showed up and bought into VoC. Executives don’t have to be there all of the time but it’s especially important when you’re kicking off your VoC program.
When you try to execute a VoC program and you don’t have leadership buy-in, it’s not adopted or halfway adopted.
How to analyze your data
Alright, we’ve talked about Listening and who powers your VoC program, now let’s talk about what to do with the feedback.
When it comes to understanding what your customers are saying, Lauren is an advocate for technology.
Folks are combing through win/loss, call notes, etc., to mine this information. This isn’t only time consuming but it also becomes inaccurate. Ask anyone that has gone through hundreds of pieces of feedback how much their brain is working when they get to feedback #400, they are missing things.
We live in a time where we have AI and machine learning, they can make VoC so much easier! Being able to use technology to pull the common themes from your text in a fraction of the time helps us.
But if you want to take baby steps, use tools that can help you tag features more efficiently. Spreadsheets are the slowest way of tracking issues and there are tools that you can input your data and tag it where it’s more effective than using a spreadsheet. There’s no reason why companies shouldn’t invest in a tool that will do the hard work for you. This adds consistency as well because humans are biased.
Listening and Analyzing the data isn’t the value add part of the program, the value add is how you act on the data. If you can bring together a cross-functional team to work on the feedback and how you’re gonna solve these problems that are coming up, that’s what you want!
You want to be strategizing on the best way to respond not spending your time combing through feedback.
The Listening phase of a Voice of the Customer (VoC) program requires cross-functional collaboration
VoC works best when you have leadership buy-in and a dedicated cross-functional team
The value-add of a VoC program isn’t analyzing the data, is what you do with the data