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19 November 2021

Listen Up! 5 Pivotal Steps To Building A Successful Voice Of Customer Program

by Christy Ransom Reading time: 8 mins
voice of the customer

Is Your Customer Data Only Telling You Half Of The Story?

Data can tell you a lot about your customers – their usage of your product, total end users and spend with your company. But, those numbers only tell half of your customer’s story. The other, and arguably more meaningful, half is the direct and indirect feedback that your customers share throughout their journey. Generated from a strong Voice of Customer (VoC) program, these insights are fundamental to truly understanding your customers; in fact, over 70% of top performing organizations are skilled at generating actionable insights through customer feedback data and proactive at taking action on those insights to make a tangible business impact (2021). 

A Voice of Customer program is the method by which an organization collects, analyzes and acts on customer feedback to drive improvements across the company and become a truly customer-centric organization. An effective and robust VoC program provides unparalleled insight into what your customers want and need from your product and company, allowing you to identify trends, opportunities and improvements to strengthen your customer relationships and drive outstanding business outcomes. 

In this article, we highlight 5 critical steps to scaling a powerful Voice of Customer program that provides unprecedented insights to drive deeper customer relationships and accelerate the achievement of your business goals.

1. Identify Your Ideal Customer & Their Needs

While it’s tempting to cast a wide net and approach every prospect as a potential customer, it’s important to acknowledge that not everyone can be your customer. If you try to sell to every single person and solve all of their problems at once, you’ll burn through company resources trying to attract too many customers at once, missing the mark with the customers that truly matter, and end up serving no one effectively. Instead, start by focusing on customers that your business wants to acquire and is capable of delivering value to through an Ideal Customer Profile exercise. 

An effective Ideal Customer Profile should answer the following 3 questions:

  1. What quantifiable data about a prospect indicates that the prospect is likely to prioritize the strategic goals that your solution helps achieve? This data could include vertical, age, business model, number of employees, etc.”
  2. What quantifiable data about a prospect indicates that the prospect’s potential budget and other commercial criteria are likely to align with the investment profile (cost, terms, etc.) of your solution? This data could include revenue, market cap, geography, public vs. private, other SaaS investments, etc.
  3. Who are the buyer personas that, if confirmed are supporters of your solution, would increase the likelihood of a sale? These personas could include commercial decision makers, technical decision makers and their respective influencer peers, reports and managers.

Once you identify who your target customers actually are, you can then accurately determine their needs and map how your product or service can solve these needs effectively. 

Don’t forget, your VoC program starts before your prospect becomes a customer; track the journey your customer takes throughout the entire lifecycle from identifying a need, researching your product and their first interaction with your company all the way through to the purchasing process, onboarding and ongoing value realization. This will allow you to gather invaluable data that uncovers gaps and enhances your Pre-Sales and  Post-Sales process to generate more business for your organization. 

For a detailed action plan on how to unite your Pre-Sales and Post-Sales motion, download our ebook on connecting customer-facing teams around shared value realization.

2. Obtain Cross-Organizational Buy-In

A successful Voice of Customer program is contingent on buy-in. In addition to investments from your C-Suite and Board, your program must secure buy-in from all of the cross-functional departments that interact with your customers. To get them on board, you need to clearly communicate the benefit of the VoC program for achieving your organization’s overall goals, as well as their department’s specific  goals. In this discussion, it’s critical to highlight the customer information that is currently missing, and the impact that this has on each department’s ability to achieve their respective objectives. 

In your conversation, make sure to address the following:

  • How your VoC program will facilitate the achievement of your organization’s, and each department’s, overarching mission
  • How your VoC initiative will uncover issues and facilitate each department’s relationship with the customer
  • How you will analyze and action feedback from your VoC program to drive improvements
  • How your VoC program will impact bottom-line results

Clearly and successfully communicating the nuances and tangible benefits of your initiative will garner the support and investment you need at every level of the organization to set yourself, and your program, up for success. 

3. Collect All Relevant Customer Feedback

Collecting relevant and high-quality customer feedback is the backbone of a successful VoC program. To do this effectively, you need to capture a wide breadth and depth of customer insights across the entire customer journey.

The feedback you generate should involve multiple collection methods from the following categories of data:

  1. Direct: this includes any and all feedback given directly from the customer when they know that you are actively listening, such as surveys, focus groups, QBRs and support tickets.
  2. Indirect: this includes interactions where the customer is talking about your company, but not directly to it, such as through social media posts and online reviews.
  3. Inferred: This includes all other data about the customer, including operational, behavioral and transactional data such as purchase history, usage data and participation in programs, events and webinars. 

To gather the most accurate and complete customer data for your Voice of Customer program, combine and compile feedback from all of your customer-facing teams. This will also help you flesh out your Ideal Customer Profile as you gather more information across all customer touchpoints.

4. Leverage Feedback To Drive Action

A strong relationship with your customer can only form from a deep understanding of their needs and wants. Once you’ve gathered and aggregated  all appropriate feedback, you need to analyze the data thoughtfully to derive actionable and meaningful insights. Categorize your actions into buckets like Customer Experience, Product Development and Onboarding & Adoption and prioritize the actions you need to take to drive improvements. Tackling manageable improvements incrementally  will jumpstart your Voice of Customer program and showcase its success to garner further investment and support from your wider team. 

Once you have outlined these actionable insights, don’t just keep them to yourself. Share your findings widely  across your organization in an engaging and easy-to-digest manner. Empowered with this information, your Customer Success, Sales, Marketing, Support, and other customer-facing teams can ensure their daily interactions and decisions align with what matters most to your customers and strengthen relationships in the process.

5. Close The Feedback Loop

One of the most important elements of a Voice of Customer Program is closing the feedback loop, both with your customers and your employees. For customers, sharing the results from insights gathered, including product enhancements or process improvements, shows that you have heard them and their feedback matters; this reassurement will make them much  more likely to participate in ongoing VoC activities as trusted advisors down the road.

In respect to sharing this information with employees,  collect feedback from each department about the following:

  • Their sentiment on whether  they have the right tools, technology and resources to gather, interpret and drive actions from the VoC insights 
  • Their opinions on the VoC program’s data collection, analysis and execution efforts
  • The specific actions that each team has taken as a result of the new insights your program generated
  • Their perspective on how these actions  will drive their department’s and your organization’s business objectives  

The feedback you receive from this exercise will allow you to make adjustments and improvements to your program and share learnings across the organization. This process will ensure that everyone is on the same page and aligned on the customers’ most up-to-date needs and expectations. The more cohesive and comprehensive your approach to your VoC program, the more streamlined the process becomes for both your business and your customers.

Your Customers Are Your Greatest Asset

A well designed Voice of the Customer program will provide a priceless glimpse into how you can help your customers truly achieve success. By identifying your ideal customer, collecting feedback across the entire customer journey and generating actionable and data-driven insights, you can strengthen your connection with your customers and leverage that relationship to drive increased adoption, retention and expansion. 

Driving an exceptional customer experience starts with an equally exceptional employee experience. Discover 6 data-driven ways you can provide a winning employee experience that accelerates business success.

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Christy Ransom

As a dedicated Customer Experience leader with 20+ years of industry experience, Christy now leads the customer success strategy team at Valuize. With a bold customer-centric vision, Christy is committed to pioneering the development and global delivery of enterprise-level customer experience initiatives for Valuize.