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How do you develop a voice of customer (VOC) program when there is only an ad-hoc feedback process in place?

5 Answers
Katherine Kelly
Katherine Kelly
Instructure Head of Product MarketingDecember 7

VOC is so powerful and it's a great place for PMM to help build that connection between product and GTM. If there's already an ad-hoc process in place, essentially what you're looking to do is add guardrails and formalize a process. Here's three things I'd focus on developing:

  • What information will you collect (deal/opp size, use case, industry, competitor, etc) and where will it live (this can be as simple as a google sheet to start, don't let a tech decision stand in your way)
  • A regular forum and cadence to discuss the feedback - this could be part of an existing planning meeting, it's own meeting or it could be a Slack channel ;) the important thing is that people know when / where to go to hear and respond and that they commit to that
  • A mechanism for accountability - what commitments are each team making (internally, or to customers) and how will you track that they've been done?

Then of course, you need buy in from product leadership and GTM leadership (sales, success/services) on all of the above. As you go you'll find and smooth out the wrinkles. Good luck!

865 Views
Monty Wolper
Monty Wolper
The New York Times Executive Director, Head of Product MarketingFebruary 15

A strong VOC program has the potential to illuminate customer priorities before they become challenges, so consistency and accessibility are key. A few suggestions:

  • Dedicate a certain amount of your team’s time to this program, even if it’s as simple as committing to 1 customer interview or call a week.
  • Provide opportunities for stakeholders to hear from customers directly, whether that means listening in on support calls, monitoring chats, participating in interviews and focus groups, or joining sales calls.
  • Develop case studies, featuring them in materking materials but also distributing them internally, to humanize your customers for those who aren’t in a position to hear from them directly.
  • Create a centralized knowledge hub for customer insights, collating interviews, NPS or CSAT scores, feature requests, social listening trends, website behaviors, product usage, etc.
  • Turn these insights into an action plan: identify trends and common themes, visualize those, and develop scalable personas that allow your teams to rally around who it is that you’re building for and selling to.
  • Identify other customer champions throughout the organization who can help you ingrain a customer-centric mindset into the company culture.

A big part of PMMs role is storytelling, which you can (and should!) be doing internally as well as externally. Think about ways in which you can surface the latest VOC insights, whether it’s via an internal newsletter or spotlights during company-wide meetings, plugging them in where relevant, sharing broadly, and often.

2581 Views
Jon Rooney
Jon Rooney
Unity Vice President Product MarketingJune 8

If there's only an ad-hoc process in place, put in something programmatic that's simple and straightforward so customers and partner teams can understand and follow. If your company has a Customer Success team responsible for activation, usage, renewals, etc, I'd start there with periodic customer surveys/interviews (quarterly would be great) that gather both quantitative and qualitative feedback consistently so you can track changes over time. Partner with Product Management, Sales Engineers, Customer Success and other teams to design the surveys/interviews. Don't be overly reliant on comments in either Net Promoter Score (NPS) surveys or Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) surveys - you need to go deeper and be more consistent. The context and sentiment alluded to in these surveys might be well understood by the Customer Success team based on regular touch points, formal QBRs, support tickets, etc but if the information is floating all over the place in different formats (including people's heads), it's nearly impossible to manage meaningful change with it. Put it in a consistent format, graph changes over time with key metrics and make sure the customer data includes industry, size, geo - any meaningful demarcation by which you can create cohorts to better understand your customer base. If you don't have a Customer Success team but you have a SaaS offering (which seems unlikely), deliver the surveys 1:many via in-product communications mechanisms like Intercom. If that's not an option, you'll have to go after it the hard way with online surveys and recruiting interview panels which will take longer and may produce lower fidelity signals so it's even more important to be consistent to show directional changes over time.

590 Views
Talya Heller G.
Talya Heller G.
Product Marketing Consultant | Ex-PMM, PM and PMOSeptember 5

Two great sources of VOC that will interest your counterparts from other teams:

  • CAB - customer advisory board, usually run by Product but PMM and CS are well-positioned internally to be deeply involved (select customers, choose topics, even moderate the discussion).

  • Customer Communities - an avenue for PMM, Product and CS to communicate with customers directly and for customers to communicate with each other. This could look like a community-specific site with announcements, polls, Q&A, (gated or public), or a Slack community with different channels.

210 Views
Abdul Rastagar
Abdul Rastagar
GTM Leader | Marketing Author | Career CoachMay 7

That’s a great question. A full, NPS-style VOC program with a closed-loop feedback system is quite complex and requires dedicated people, processes and systems to execute. It’s a major, long-term initiative that should be driven by the C-Suite and has to be part of the organization’s cultural DNA. It’s far too large in scope for Product Marketing to manage.

But not all VOC has to be so formalized and structured. Product Marketing can go a long way to bring the voice of the customer into the business. The first step is to gather ongoing market research (digital behavior monitoring, customer forums, focus groups, interviews, win/loss analysis, satisfaction surveys, etc.) Next, ensure that the information is packaged in consumable and actionable insights that are disseminated to the right parts of the organization. Ensure each recipient knows what actions are expected of them in return for getting access to such prized information, rather than just letting them read an interesting report that they then simply file away.

There are many ways for Product Marketing to leverage VOC insights. For the purposes of this response, I will call out only one specific use: customer referencing. A top priority for VOC insights is to programmatically capture customer referencing opportunities to help your sales team close deals.

1304 Views
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