Voice of the Customer Program components

David Ellin
David Ellin Member Posts: 169 Expert
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When developing a Voice of the Customer program, which elements of the program have you found most useful and which (in hindsight) would you have spent less time on or eliminated from your programs....NPS, Transactional surveys, Pulse Surveys, direct customer feedback, Executive Sponsors, Customer Advisory Boards, EBR/SBR/QBRs, closed-loop processes....


  • Jay Nathan
    Jay Nathan HLAdmin, Member Posts: 108 Gain Grow Retain Staff
    Third Anniversary 10 Comments Photogenic 5 Insightfuls
    edited May 2020
  • Brian Hartley
    Brian Hartley Member Posts: 185 Expert
    100 Comments First Anniversary
    edited May 2020

    Our program is very early in its maturity, but our senior leadership team tried to speak with all customers who gave us a 0-6 on our NPS survey.  For me, it was validation of the product gaps and what our CS team has been preaching for a while....for our CEO a real eye opener.  Now instead of trying to build shiny new features, we are spending our engineering team hardening he core components of the platform.  Win for CS!


    As for what I would delete, or spend less time on, for me and my past experience it would be the advisory boards.  It started with good intentions but then morphed into a power user session. I am sure it can be successful at certain levels of products/ARR/importance but not the two I have worked on (marketing automation and RFP automation tools)

  • Sheryl Hawk
    Sheryl Hawk Member Posts: 12 Contributor
    First Anniversary
    edited May 2020

    I wouldn't eliminate any of the elements mentioned above. I think it's extremely important to listen to the customer where ever and however they are speaking to us -- this gives their voice texture and provides data. It's up to us to organize and aggregate that data. I generally recommend implementing NPS and Pulse surveys 1st. Not because they are most valuable, but because they are easiest to implement and quickly. I make sure there is follow up to both positive and negative responses--via different playbooks. With NPS it's also important to track response rate by company and by responder title/level. 

    Depending on how engaged your exec team is with customers, it might make sense to roll out an exec sponsor program next. If engagement is lacking, then I would aggregate the available data (see below) and they will be asking to talk to customers (promise).

    Data that is often overlooked is that from support cases and CSM enhancement requests. If gathered correctly, (good details, separating enhancement from bugs, etc) it can be used along with feedback from NPS, EBRs, CABs, etc. to build a complete view of the Voice of the Customer. Aggregated, this data can drive roadmaps, customer engagement and retention...too often VOC becomes anecdotal from a customer/CSM/exec. By aggregating you get a picture of number of customers, ARR and customer segment that may be at risk, need a particular feature, etc -- there is a lot of power here.


  • Steve Bernstein
    Steve Bernstein Member Posts: 132 Expert
    Third Anniversary 100 Comments Name Dropper Photogenic
    edited May 2020

    All the elements that @David L Ellin mentioned are key, and I must agree with @Brian Hartley that Customer Advisory Boards can be very difficult and expensive to conduct, while often also limiting exposure to the needs of one only cohort, which tends to be Exec Sponsors in Strategic Accounts.  While you can certainly expand your advisory board(s) to other cohorts it rarely happens due to the expense & manpower involved, mixed priorities, and lack of perceived value.  I would certainly roll out an exec sponsor program and a genuine VoC (although in a limited-scope fashion to start) effort first and together, knowing that the exec sponsor should be hand-in-hand with the CSM to drive stakeholder participation in providing feedback in advance of a "QBR" and then attending the QBR, following up, and help bring that voice to the exec team.

    Just know that a VoC program is FAR more than a "survey."  Do you really want to improve, knowing that the word "improve" (by definition) means that something's gotta change?!?  Working out what you want to learn (product roadmap? outcomes? features? perceived value? sentiment with "why" from a set of cohorts?, etc), followed by WHO can provide that information (which account types and which persona/contact-types). Then work out your communication strategy: How will you get ALL the right people to respond?  Shoot for 80% customer-participation rates... our clients achieve that and it's the best way to make sure you have hard value/ROI from the effort because the data are trustworthy, representative, and actionable. Then work out who/and how (playbooks) will follow-up on what you hear is most important, followed by good oversight/accountability ("governance") to ensure everyone is holding up their end.  There is NOTHING worse than being asked for feedback and then when you provide it you only hear crickets. 

    Bottomline:  Don't treat your customers like lab rats... make sure you have those follow-up items in place BEFORE engaging your customer.  Our data-science has proven time and again that surveys without action do more harm than good.

    BTW, the elements that David mentions needn't be "perfect" before starting, especially if you start small (one or 2 cohorts or ~15 accounts across CSMs, depending on your structure).  You also don't need to reinvent the wheel because these communities have been so helpful at proving templates and peer support, but also know who are the genuine experts that have "been there done that and have the outcomes to prove it. "  I see so much advice flowing around  which is great but much of it is "I think" vs "I know" so I would just ask anyone providing assistance what the outcome was/is for the advice or template they've provided.