How To Capture Voice Of The Customer, According To Experts – Built In

Around 95 percent of purchasing decisions happen in the subconscious, according to Harvard professor Gerald Zaltman.

That statistic motivates Uwe Gutschow’s strategy team at digital agency MediaCom to push for more customer feedback and explore not only what customers say but also what they mean. 

Figuring out the Voice of the Customer (VoC) allows companies to understand their customers’ wants, needs and behaviors. While direct feedback through customer surveys or social media is helpful, uncovering the ‘whys’ of customers — why they buy, why they don’t buy — provides deeper insights. 

Gutschow said his team uses electroencephalogram (EEG) technology and physiological indicators to track customers’ subconscious choices. Seeing which stimuli customers respond to helps MediaCom create more effective engagement strategies.

But feedback should come from multiple sources, say Gutschow and other tech professionals. Surveys may work for some customers, while others may respond better to a check-in. Anecdotal evidence, social media analysis, data capture and more help product and customer success teams create a full customer profile.   

From there, customer data can be input into analytics tools for a better understanding of their behaviors and emotions.  

“If we understand the behaviors, but more importantly, the underlying emotions — then we can architect the right opportunities for our client’s brand to be an authentic part of people’s lives,” Gutschow said. 

Below, 18 design and UX leaders from tech companies all over the U.S. share with Built In the importance of listening to and integrating feedback from customers, across all departments.

Top Tips For Leveraging Voice of the Customer (VoC)

  • Use initial VoC data to develop user personas that can identify journey maps and predict pain points
  • Use in-app, post-encounter surveys to get feedback on how the product is working
  • Make sure product and design teams work closely with account managers to understand what the customers want and need
  • Use product reviews to tweak current products and launch new ones
  • The data and feedback gathered from social channels can lead to new ideas
  • Use in-person events to gather feedback from users in a relaxed and comfortable environment
  • Leverage video and audio data to look for patterns among customers

Wipfli LLP

Brad Carrera

HEAD OF UX RESEARCH

Head of UX Research Brad Carrera said deeply understanding your customer, on a professional and human level, is a key component to success. Along with plenty of research, he and his team rely on surveys and one-on-one interviews to gain insights from their clients and customers.

Where is the best place for your company to gather the feedback needed to capture the voice of the customer? 

Nothing will ever replace going directly to the source. To get the lowdown on product end users, we start by asking our clients what they think they know about their customers and what they can prove they know about their customers. What makes our team and the brand teams we partner with so special is that everyone, and I mean everyone, participates in research. Keynote decks bursting with insights are great as a leave-behind, but if you really want to understand your customers, you have to talk to them. The most profound product revelations I’ve been a part of came as a result of direct interaction with customers.

When it comes to qualitative studies, one-on-one interviews are my method of choice.’’

What tools do you use to synthesize this data in order to capture deeper insights into your customers’ behaviors and preferences?

For surveys, I’ve come to love SurveyMonkey. John Doyle, my quantitative counterpart and our head of analytics, focuses on providing behavioral insights via Google Analytics/Firebase event tracking and multivariate A/B experimentation. 

When it comes to qualitative studies, one-on-one interviews are my method of choice. Zoom, a screen recorder, transcription software, a willing participant and a skilled interviewer are all you really need to gather high-quality qualitative data.

How do you leverage VoC to improve the different stages of the customer journey or to inform your product/marketing/CS strategies? 

Internally, we utilize personas to develop effective proposals based on the potential client’s role and level of experience in digital. We leverage journey maps to identify project pain points and hone our execution process. In product design, the type of research we use depends on the product’s level of maturity. For bespoke products, we create personas as a way to identify our users’ goals and pain points. We also rely on usability testing to gut check our design decisions and course-correct when necessary. 

Reverb

Aaron Enequist-Leiker

DIRECTOR OF DESIGN AND UX RESEARCH

Director of Design and UX Research Aaron Enequist-Leiker said that keeping a close eye on how customers interact with Reverb’s website informs them of customer needs and concerns.

“Because it’s a two-sided marketplace where anyone — from rock stars like Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong to local music shops to hobbyists — can buy and sell musical gear, our user experience team is always collaborating closely with our customer engagement team full of musicians,” Enequist-Leiker said.

Each month, we invite buyers and sellers to use Reverb while we watch what they are doing on the site.’’

Where is the best place for your company to gather the feedback needed to capture the voice of the customer?

Our customer engagement team uses a system of feedback loops to help us identify where buyers and sellers are feeling friction on the site. For example, the team told us that sellers were constantly contacting Reverb after they sold a piece of gear to ask, “Where is my money?” By adding language to the site to let sellers know that the payment for the item was approved and the bank would disperse the funds shortly, we decreased the amount of sellers asking about payments by nearly 20%. This fixed a problem for both our sellers and customer engagement reps.

What tools do you use to synthesize this data in order to capture deeper insights into your customers’ behaviors and preferences?

Each month, we invite buyers and sellers to use Reverb while we watch what they are doing on the site. We give them a prompt like “Find a Tascam 388 Studio 8 1/4” 8-Track Tape Recorder” and pay attention to what they instinctively click or type. This helps us understand how buyers navigate our marketplace and gives us an opportunity to ask questions firsthand. Our team also uses a mixed-method research approach, including surveys, user interviews and usability testing, as well as customer behavior analysis tools like Amplitude to analyze, synthesize and identify deeper insights.

How do you leverage VoC to improve the different stages of the customer journey or to inform your product/marketing/CS strategies? 

An area of the consumer journey that user research recently helped us demystify was the Reverb mobile app. We noticed that players would begin searching for music gear through the app and then suddenly stop what they were doing. Through user interviews, we found ways to help people easily pick up where they left off without them having to do anything on their end. That way, if a user was on the app and landed on the perfect Moog Minitaur Analog Bass synthesizer, they could stop using the app and then easily pick up where they left off later.

DialogTech

Jennifer Bassik

VICE PRESIDENT OF MARKETING STRATEGY

Vice President of Marketing Strategy Jennifer Bassik said DialogTech’s purpose is to capture the voice of the customer — literally. During a phone call, their technology transforms the speech of a customer into predictable analytics with the use of AI, which gives businesses critical insights into their customers’ behaviors and needs.

Where is the best place for your company to gather the feedback needed to capture the voice of the customer? 

The best place for companies to capture the voice of the customer is through conversation analytics platforms for inbound phone calls — platforms like DialogTech. Consider all the times you’ve called a business. You have so much intentionality and purpose when making that call. You chose the phone channel over any other form of communication because you wanted to address a specific need you had at that very moment. That sentiment, the questions you bring to the call, the conversation you have over the phone — that’s powerful, first-party data straight from the voice of the customer that AI-powered conversation analytics platforms can capture.

AI transforms speech into predictable analytics, which allows businesses to glean insights into customer behavior and act accordingly.’’

What tools do you use to synthesize this data in order to capture deeper insights into your customers’ behaviors and preferences?

The voice channel is inherently unstructured. It is free-flowing, unpredictable and personal. Unlike survey data or personally identifiable information (PII), you can’t squeeze someone’s conversation into a spreadsheet and track it. That’s where the power of AI comes in. AI transforms speech into predictable analytics, which allows businesses to glean insights into customer behavior and act accordingly.

How do you leverage VoC to improve the different stages of the customer journey or to inform your product/marketing/CS strategies? 

DialogTech’s platform reveals hidden conversations between a business and its customers. Those hidden conversations align with the exact metrics that marketers are accustomed to tracking, like new customer acquisition and customer lifetime value. By capturing data on what took place before the call (the campaigns, ads, keywords, channels, and webpages that led to a consumer making a call); during the call (the actual conversation that occurred); and post-call (prescriptive actions to maximize customer outcomes), marketers are armed with the full-funnel data they need to reach their growth targets.

 

CirrusMD Inc.

Julie Kopp

VP OF PRODUCT AND MARKETING

Where is the best place for your company to gather the feedback needed to capture the voice of the customer?

We deliver in-app surveys immediately following a patient’s encounter with a physician to capture information about the experience while it’s fresh. We conduct user research and usability testing with both patients and physicians to fully understand user needs and how they’re using our solution. Across our physician network, we continuously reach out for feedback, observe experiences and assess changing needs. A product team leader is dedicated to the provider and patient experience, monitoring impact as our solution scales so we can respond effectively and prioritize development of the right capabilities.

We also look at the employers, health plans and integrated delivery networks who buy our solutions for their members and employees. We work closely with their teams to understand how telehealth needs are advancing. Qualitative and quantitative research helps us better understand these shifts and deliver the best possible solutions. We leverage surveys, monthly check-ins, data analytics and in-depth customer conversations. 

Accessing both qualitative and quantitative data enables a more robust understanding of the user experience.”

How do you synthesize this data in order to capture deeper insights into your customers’ preferences? 

We use a visualization tool to pull user data like registration, satisfaction and utilization. Then, we leverage post-encounter surveys to gather additional insights about users’ experiences. Our product and AM teams synthesize broad data sets, pulling insights and anecdotal information to create a full picture of user experiences. Accessing both qualitative and quantitative data enables a more robust understanding of the user experience, and in turn, helps us deliver greater benefits to our employer and health plan customers. 

Customers receive full monthly reports from their success manager, and can also access dashboard reports to continuously monitor performance. We can track success against established goals, alleviation of pain points and achievement of a customer’s unique metrics.

How do you leverage VoC to improve the different stages of the customer journey or to inform strategy?

During COVID-19, we saw an enormous uptick in encounters with behavioral health components, as patients used the platform not only for physical health issues, but also concerns about anxiety, stress, sleeplessness and depression. We recognized a need to enhance our offering so we added a new head of psychiatry, created dedicated clinic hours focused entirely on behavioral health issues and supported the needs of our primary care doctors with behavioral health specialists. 

In-app, post-encounter surveys and user comments provide insights into how our solution is working. By combining all those insights, we can evaluate where to prioritize and focus efforts.

OrthoFi

John Truchel

VP OF PRODUCT

Where is the best place for your company to gather the feedback needed to capture the voice of the customer? 

COVID-19 forced us to leverage more multi-channel methods to gather feedback from users. We took advantage of the fact that many orthodontic practices were closed during the early months of COVID, which allowed their staff more time to speak to us via phone calls, customer chat channels and video conferencing. We also have a product advisory board made up of a diverse group of orthodontic practices that provide candid feedback. This group has been invaluable for us in evaluating early product concepts and features without going through the normal challenge of recruiting and building relationships for VoC. 

We also utilize Pendo inside of our software to provide a consistent area for our customers to provide feedback at the point of use. Feedback automatically gets dropped into a Slack channel for our product team and others to see so that we can positively intervene where appropriate. 

We create user journey maps and personas based on the VoC we collect.”

How do you synthesize this data in order to capture deeper insights into your customers’ preferences? 

We typically like to pair qualitative with quantitative data to support user voices and impact their pain points. We use NPS data in surveys and qualitative research questions. To synthesize qualitative data, we use ‘rainbow sheets’ to find common themes in responses using Google Sheets. When appropriate, we create user journey maps and personas based on the VoC we collect. It’s an investment of time, but the return is a much better understanding of the current process users go through, pinpointing specific areas that our product can help alleviate friction.

Regardless of the VoC methods utilized, we make sure to present our findings in a way that is consumable to our extended team. This practice is typically done through simple slide decks that walk the audience through our approach and key findings. We wrap up these VoC decks with suggestions and paths forward based on those user needs. 

How do you leverage VoC to improve the different stages of the customer journey or to inform strategy?

Our product and design teams work closely with our account managers to understand what common customers need. We established internal operating groups that consist of cross-functional teams aligned to a specific part of our product. For example, we have an integrations operating group that consists of sales, marketing, account management, and implementation and training team members. They meet bi-weekly to align on important third-party vendor partnerships that might solidify new sales or create a better customer adoption experience. 

We also made deliberate strides to include a “zero” sprint for research before large initiatives, allowing us the time to solve user needs. We identify, document and validate all key assumptions as early as possible to make sure customer-facing teams share a consistent and accurate message to users about upcoming product enhancements or changes

Xero

Audrey Tan

DIRECTOR OF PRODUCT DESIGN

Where is the best place for your company to gather the feedback needed to capture the voice of the customer? 

We meet the customer wherever they’re at, which could mean many things. It could mean visiting and observing them in their natural workspace, or understanding their mindset by listening intently to what they share on a video call. To me, the most important thing is to let go of any preconceived notions of what you think matters to the customer, and just let the customer do the talking.

To make any insight trustworthy, there needs to be a clear hypothesis and strong controls.”

How do you synthesize this data in order to capture deeper insights into your customers’ preferences?

To make any insight trustworthy, there needs to be a clear hypothesis and strong controls throughout the entire process. We have dedicated research and data analytics teams that use a combination of Microstrategy, Google Analytics, MixPanel and other tools that help paint a picture of what our users are doing and how to form a strategy around it. 

How do you leverage VoC to improve the different stages of the customer journey or to inform strategy?

We leverage VoC to help us tailor Xero to various geographic markets. Xero is a global company, and I was surprised to learn how much accounting and small business bookkeeping practices vary by country. For example, one of our many research studies revealed that small businesses in the U.S. have different relationships with their accountants compared to SMBs in New Zealand. Learning that insights from customers helped us identify the right users for certain tasks within our product. 

Toastmasters International

Van Trieu

SENIOR USER EXPERIENCE DESIGNER

Where is the best place for your company to gather the feedback needed to capture the voice of the customer? 

One way to capture the customer voice is by doing user interviews and usability studies throughout the design and development process. Asking stakeholders and members to give feedback on design mockups and prototypes ensures that the product team is solving for the right problems. It also allows us to test our assumptions and make sure that we are designing innovative solutions that will make our members and leaders lives easier.

The UX team also measures project outcomes by looking at changes in user behavior.”

How do you synthesize this data in order to capture deeper insights into your customers’ preferences?

Our research department conducts a lot of surveys and interviews with our members and officers. Our team members also give their input on our design outcomes. Outside of looking at Google Analytics and performing usability studies, the UX team also measures project outcomes by looking at changes in user behavior like click rates, visits and time spent performing certain tasks. By using both qualitative and quantitative data, we get a more accurate picture of what our users are doing when they interact with our website or any given digital product.

How do you leverage VoC to improve the different stages of the customer journey or to inform strategy?

The UX team frequently meets with the product and development department, and serves as the advocates for our members and leaders throughout the organization. We help to flush out complex design problems and come up with solutions that will meet our users’ needs while achieving business objectives. 

 

Sure

Dan Berkowitz

CHIEF PRODUCT OFFICER

Chief Product Officer Dan Berkowitz said his team measures both direct and indirect customer feedback at digital insurance platform Sure. Doing so requires asking the right person, the right question, at the right time. That data is then used to enhance product roadmaps and prioritize feature releases. Sure’s product team even incorporates learnings from VoC in real time throughout the customer journey — from discovery to platform launch, and even improving future products. For example, the company included geofencing techniques to provide relevant coverage offerings by location for a high-profile partner, which was then integrated into all future versions of the platform.

 

Where is the best place for your company to gather the feedback needed to capture the voice of the customer?

At Sure, we collect direct and indirect customer feedback to ensure we capture the voice of the customer at multiple points throughout the customer journey. Direct feedback is gathered from in-person and virtual meetings, online surveys and one-on-one communication between individual team members and clients. This data is used to enhance our existing product roadmap and identify common themes, such as multiple requests for the same feature, enabling us to prioritize feature releases. 

We also leverage business analytics tools to gather indirect feedback. By analyzing client interactions with our technology, we see what areas are most intuitive, and learn where improvements need to be made. 

 

How do you synthesize this data in order to capture deeper insights into your customers’ behaviors and preferences?

Who, what and when we ask for customer feedback plays a critical role in our ability to capture insights that go beyond surface-level comments. It requires that we ask the right person, the right question, at the right time. As part of understanding VoC, we have to make the effort to understand the customer, how they use our products and the best time to capture their undivided attention.

Business analytics tools are incredibly valuable when it comes to gathering real-time feedback without taking time away from our clients’ workday. By tracking engagement and interactions in our platform, we better understand the usability level of existing features, areas where users are struggling and areas where the platform drives efficiency—all in real time. 

We also keep a pulse on customer satisfaction and Net Promoter Sccore (NPS). These in-platform surveys enable us to measure customer satisfaction with our products, how loyal a particular client is to our brand and how likely they are to recommend our company to others. One of the most valuable ways to dive deeper into customer feedback is to take the time to match user data from the platform with survey data. Is direct client feedback consistent with user interactions in the platform? If yes, then we have clear direction. If no, then we need to identify why there are discrepancies and the best plan of action to address concerns.

 

We collect direct and indirect customer feedback to capture the VoC at multiple points throughout the customer journey.”

 

How do you leverage VoC to improve the different stages of the customer journey or to inform your product/marketing/CS strategies?  

Our product team applies new learnings derived from VoC in real time throughout the customer journey — from discovery to platform launch. We hold multiple workshops and sketch sessions to fully understand the desired outcome — not only for our partners, but their consumers as well. The product team builds interactive prototypes to prove hypotheses and provide ample opportunities for feedback, then refactors workflows to accommodate updates. Setting milestones throughout the customer journey is key to gathering, and acting on, client feedback.

A great example of incorporating real-time feedback and using it to improve future products is the inclusion of geofencing techniques to provide relevant coverage offerings by location. A high-profile partner wanted to include this as a part of their core technology. It proved to be so valuable that our product team integrated it into all future platform configurations. Incorporating VoC into our existing and future products is a true differentiator for Sure.

3PL Central

Mike Sanders

DIRECTOR OF CUSTOMER SUCCESS

To capture the most accurate VoC, 3PL Central’s Director of Customer Success Mike Sanders said it is important to gather customer feedback from multiple channels. Along with surveys and Net Promoter Scores, the CSM team checks in directly with customers for anecdotal evidence. Feedback is shared across the warehouse management system provider’s various departments to better guide product roadmaps and create robust customer profiles. 

Where is the best place for your company to gather the feedback needed to capture the voice of the customer?

It is important to look both wide and deep when collecting customer feedback. It is tempting to favor one source over others, when in fact you need multiple sources to have a nuanced understanding of the customer experience.  

Tools such as NPS and customer surveys are useful to identify trends and patterns within your customer base. We use these tools to look for consensus or discord over a large cross-section of our customers. 

As a complement to the customer sentiment data we gather, we have several mechanisms to gather anecdotal feedback as well. Our CSM team conducts regular health-checks, our product managers interact with beta participants to guide roadmaps and our leadership team is accessible and interested in our customers’ feedback. In addition, we have a customer advisory board hand-picked for their ability to provide insightful feedback.

It is just as important to learn from mistakes as it is to understand how to repeat successes.”  

 

How do you synthesize this data in order to capture deeper insights into your customers’ behaviors and preferences? 

Half the battle is capturing data at a more granular level, and the other half is breaking down data silos to provide actionable information to the stakeholders who drive your business.  

Ideally, all our sources would integrate seamlessly, but that is not always the case. It is important not to let these limitations stifle your analysis. Sometimes an old-fashioned export and VLOOKUP across multiple data sources can reveal new insights. 

It is equally important to engage directly with customers who can give insightful feedback. When releasing product updates, we implement our customer discovery programs with five to seven key customer and user data points from all perspectives to triangulate on key functionality and data that meets the core needs. Our product ideas program incorporates submissions from anyone in our customer base and uses a community voting process to validate and elevate ideas.

How do you leverage VoC to improve the different stages of the customer journey or to inform your product/marketing/CS strategies?

This question brings our onboarding customer journey to mind. Feedback loops between marketing, sales, product and customer-facing departments are essential to ensure we are in lockstep with our customers. We are constantly looking to refine our processes to disseminate feedback to better guide our roadmaps and calibrate our ideal customer profile. Both the market and our product evolve, so this is a continually moving target.  

We have recurring meetings to analyze both our successes and failures in the sales and onboarding processes, and also measure the effectiveness of the changes we make. We leverage customer feedback to prioritize feature requests and product enhancements. It is just as important to learn from mistakes as it is to understand how to repeat successes.  

MediaCom

Managing Partner – Strategy Lead

UWE GUTSCHOW

MediaCom’s Head of Strategy Uwe Gutschow broke down how both explicit and implicit VoCs play critical roles in shaping the their clients’ brand strategies. Social media analysis and customer surveys explain how customers behave, while EEG technology tracks why they make those choices. That information helps MediaCom strategize how their clients should engage with their audiences for the most meaningful connection.

 

Where is the best place for your company to gather the feedback needed to capture the voice of the customer?

Understanding our clients’ consumer and potential consumers are essential to success. We are interested in both the explicit and implicit VoC. Explicit VoC refers to actions taken by a customer: site visits, social media posts, search, purchase, etc. 

However, explicit behavior is merely an indication of the consumer’s implicit “voice.” Around 95 percent of decision making happens in the subconscious. Only 5 percent of our decisions, actions and behaviors are controlled by our rational mind. 

So, we augment explicit data with surveys and studies that help us understand customers’ emotions. We use EEG technology, combined with other physiological indicators such as eye-tracking, galvanic skin responses and heart rate variance. These signals help us understand why consumers subscribe, buy or don’t buy at a subconscious level. 

For example, when consumers are exposed to a stimulus, like a commercial, we track how engaged they are. This helps us determine which visual or auditory stimuli perform better so we can adjust our strategies.

 

How do you synthesize this data in order to capture deeper insights into your customers’ behaviors and preferences? 

We use first-party data to perform regression analysis to determine correlation and custom studies to uncover causation.

We also have our own custom Livepanel data that surveys 350,000 people across 54 markets across category, media and touchpoint behaviors, as well as WPP’s BrandZ study and thousands of GroupM ROI benchmarks. This data is pulled into MediaCom’s proprietary operating platform called The System. 

Accessing these data sets in The System lets us make flexible decisions based on benchmark data and to calibrate them to integrate client-specific data. That information is used to predict growth based upon investment levels, and determines the best media investment strategies to impact our client’s target audience.

Mediacom’s Key Data Sets and Tracking Tools

  • Social media analysis tools: Brandwatch, Helixa and CubeYou
  • Explicit behavioral data tools: ComScore, Pathmatics and Nielsen
  • Survey driven tools and platforms: YouGov, Telmar, MRI and Experian Simmons 
  • Consumer trends tools: Gartner Iconoculture, Mintel, Forrester, Warc

How do you leverage VoC to improve the different stages of the customer journey or to inform your product/marketing/CS strategies? 

We map consumer motivations, emotions and behaviors along moments of decision making. We use both rational and emotional indicators to help us understand when and where a brand has the best opportunity to connect with consumers and potential customers. 

 

If we understand the behaviors, but more importantly, the underlying emotions, then we can architect the right opportunities.”

 

For example, someone getting out of bed might reach for their phone to check on their social media feed. The underlying emotion is a need to feel connected. Another person might reach for their phone to check their email. Here the underlying emotion is anxiety and stress. If we understand the behaviors, but more importantly, the underlying emotions, then we can architect the right opportunities for our client’s brand to be an authentic part of people’s lives.

MeUndies

Laura Leonard 

MANAGER, CONSUMER INSIGHTS

Utilizing multiple channels to gather customer feedback helps Manager of Consumer Insights Laura Leonard gauge a fuller profile of the customer database at e-commerce fashion company MeUndies. Feedback is uploaded to a data analytics platform and then integrated into every stage of production. 

 

Where is the best place for your company to gather the feedback needed to capture the voice of the customer?

Over the years, MeUndies has learned there is no single source of truth when it comes to listening to our customers. Looking at just one source limits the voices we hear and does not paint the complete picture. We have a passionate customer base that pushes us to improve and evolve as a company. A major initiative has been consolidating our customer feedback so we can act on those findings. We are constantly collecting feedback: comments across our social channels, on-site product reviews, outreach to our customer service team or ongoing survey responses. 

 

We have a passionate customer base that pushes us to improve and evolve as a company.”

 

How do you synthesize this data in order to capture deeper insights into your customers’ behaviors and preferences?

One of our most impactful projects has been our segmentation work. It has provided us with a lens through which we now view all research and customer data. From a technical perspective, signing on with the Qualtrics platform has leveled up our insights capabilities. Through automated surveys and advanced statistical tools, we are able to dig deeper into our customers’ behaviors. We then combine multiple sources into our data visualization tool, Looker. From there, we can marry behavioral information with transactional data to give us the ‘what’ and the ‘why.’

How do you leverage VoC to improve the different stages of the customer journey or to inform your product/marketing/CS strategies? 

Customer feedback — including product reviews and customer satisfaction responses — was the impetus for our new line of women’s underwear released last year. From actual product development to naming and positioning, we constantly checked in with our customers to make sure we created a product that women wanted. To ensure that we are accomplishing this goal, we constantly gather suggestions from our social and customer service channels and send quarterly surveys to gauge customer preferences on potential ideas.

XCLAIM

Dan Tse

MARKETING PRODUCT MANAGER – SENIOR

As a senior marketing product manager at fintech company XCLAIM, Dan Tse said it’s important to gather insight on a customer’s first impression of the product. Feedback sessions are captured via notes, voice-to-text transcripts and video recordings and then shared with stakeholders and other departments. The feedback is used to influence XCLAIM’s product design and surface customer knowledge gaps.

 

Where is the best place for your company to gather the feedback needed to capture the voice of the customer? 

We broadly categorize our VoC into people and product insights. As we’re still in the early stages of our product lifecycle, we have a bias toward direct customer conversations for obtaining people insights. For us, this is the best approach to evaluate peoples’ mindsets, observe their behavioral interactions, hone in on their pain points and dive into their motivations. 

 

We have a bias toward direct customer conversations for obtaining people insights.”

 

Given our geographically diverse customer base, we’ve always gathered insights via phone and video calls. Because of COVID-19, we’ve seen a greater adoption of video conferencing in the last few months, which has been a significant value-add to our efforts. At times these feedback sessions have been ad hoc, but more often they are planned with specific usability research and product discovery initiatives in mind. Similarly, for product insights, we’ve leveraged product demos and training sessions as key conversational opportunities to understand the VoC, with a growing tendency toward data-driven measurement. The amount of insight we gain from first impressions is often the most useful. 

 

How do you synthesize this data in order to capture deeper insights into your customers’ behaviors and preferences? 

Data capture is paramount. We store notes, voice-to-text transcripts, video recordings and relevant analytics into a central wiki repository for organization and analysis. Our product team shares insights gained with other stakeholders across the company, and extends open invites to other teams to hear unfiltered customer feedback. We dissect the feedback captured by the user persona and leverage aspects of the jobs-to-be-done framework to normalize the insights gathered, deriving trends that can be made actionable from a business and product standpoint. 

 

How do you leverage VoC to improve the different stages of the customer journey or to inform your product/marketing/CS strategies? 

The VoC provides a key signal for us in terms of market validation and continuous iteration. To implement a new customer registration experience, we deliberately sought customer feedback on the new proposed workflow. Speaking to actual marketplace sellers, we validated our product designs against their real-life pain points. 

Feedback also helped influence our product design and surface customer knowledge gaps and servicing opportunities, which we addressed via marketing and support efforts. Additionally, an unconventional approach we’re institutionalizing is using the VoC to inform our recruiting experience. Feedback from every new team member (and even some candidates that declined) has been leveraged to improve our candidate journey from application responsiveness, how interviews are conducted, presenting job offers and onboarding new employees. 

 

Literati

Omri Buzi

GROUP PRODUCT MANAGER

Literati, an Austin-based literature technology company, is poised to capitalize on the extra time many former commuters now have back. The company started in 2017 as a “try-before-you-buy” monthly subscription service for children’s books, but has since expanded to books for all ages. The latest addition to their platform is a virtual book club where members can interact with one another as well as luminaries like Malala, Stephen Curry and Richard Branson.

But the virtual book club isn’t the only way Literati engages with customers. Group Product Manager Omri Buzi said that customer interviews uncover important information that tech channels cannot.  

Where is the best place for your company to gather the feedback needed to capture the voice of the customer?

Understanding how our users engage with our product is the most important part of my job. My longtime preferred method for gathering this customer feedback is customer interviews. First, creating a safe and open environment for a customer (current or prospective) allows you to uncover information that most other feedback channels, especially tech-enabled ones, never could. Conversations allow you to reveal a level of nuance (e.g. tone, emotion, non-verbal behaviors) that most other channels miss. 

Second, customer interviews are flexible. Did an engineer bring up an interesting idea in standup that morning? Ask your customer what they think about it in an interview later that afternoon. Held up on developing a feature because you’re in an internal deadlock on a critical aspect? Ask the question in your next 10 customer interviews and let them decide. The answers you’re looking for aren’t in the building. Speaking with a customer is an opportunity to speak with someone familiar with your product and who can lend a fresh perspective.

 

How do you synthesize this data in order to capture deeper insights into your customers behaviors and preferences? 

Customer interviews are a qualitative tool. They are only as useful as your ability to properly gauge the pervasiveness of what you’ve learned. Without this step, you run the risk of overfitting your product to create a Franken-product that no one wants. 

Two of the most common ways that our customer interviews lead to deeper insights are through the development of surveys and hypothesis-building. Speaking regularly with customers ensures that we have effectively captured that voice, making us more effective in our efforts to uncover broader themes with our customers through surveys.

 

How do you leverage VoC to improve the different stages of the customer journey or to inform your product/marketing/CS strategies? 

For every decision made at Literati, we use data. And customer interviews can serve as the tip of the spear for effectively leveraging data.

A great example of this is our book curation. There is a tremendous amount that goes into choosing the books we share with our community of users. The process includes all types of datasets, but the one that leads many of the others is the work we do with our reader test groups. We interview users after they’ve read prospective curation titles, which enables us to uncover themes and aspects of a book our curation team might never have discovered. Bringing this feedback into our curation system broadens our ability to capture signals as we face the challenge of predicting book preferences that are both constantly changing and driven by a desire for diversity and uniqueness. 

FloSports

Justin Hoyman

DIRECTOR OF PRODUCT

The COVID-19 pandemic has prevented most of us from attending our favorite sporting events. That’s where a company like FloSports comes in. The digital sports media company offers its customers live and on-demand access to hundreds of thousands of competition events across more than 25 vertical sport categories in the U.S. and abroad. And these aren’t just your average sporting events. FloSports recently extended its partnership with Drum Corps International, a prestigious marching arts organization, and earlier this summer, partnered with the streaming leader for drag racing.

Constantly communicating with its customers to learn their wants and needs is crucial, Justin Hoyman, director of product at FloSports, explained. “It helps us remove internal bias, learn about our product and gain empathy for our customers,” he said.

 

Where is the best place for your company to gather the feedback needed to capture the voice of the customer?

Having direct, honest and one-on-one conversations with our customers is central to our ability to understand their needs and how we can exceed their expectations. We have a formal process where we reach out to customers to get on video calls to discuss pain points and try out design prototypes meant to address problem areas.  

This is essential to our product development cycle because it helps us remove internal bias, learn about our product and gain empathy for our customers. It also ensures we’re spending valuable engineering resources building and maintaining the right experiences for our customers. 

 

How do you synthesize this data in order to capture deeper insights into your customers’ behaviors and preferences?

We use a software called Lookback that allows us to have video calls with customers and present interactive prototypes. A moderator and a notetaker are assigned to the interview, and the rest of the team and key stakeholders are invited to observe live. The moderator creates a script to have the customer perform specific tasks. We record our sessions and annotate the video timestamps with key observations in Lookback. We then break down highlights into bite-size bits of information in Confluence where stakeholders can easily digest patterns from our testing.  

The tools we use to achieve these results are a combination of Calendly for scheduling, Lookback for video calls, Marvel for interactive design prototypes, Iterable for recruiting, Confluence for data synthesization and our merch store to compensate people for their time.

 

How do you leverage VoC to improve the different stages of the customer journey or to inform your product/marketing/CS strategies? 

From our discussions with customers, we’ve learned that spoilers are a major pain point in sports. It’s really difficult to avoid seeing the outcome of live events for folks that are watching sports on demand. Our content, marketing and product teams have created policies around spoilers that avoid showing the winner in photos, or specifics in headlines. Our website and apps are designed to ensure a direct path to replays that don’t include spoiler information.

Square Root

Taylor Coppock

PRODUCT MANAGER

Square Root is all about turning data into action. The software tech company built CoEFFICIENT, an intelligent software for automotive original equipment manufacturers, which provides its customers insights to act on their data. That’s why it’s no surprise that the Austin-based company has its own vast supply of data on how to best capture the voice of its customers. Square Root uses Heap Analytics for quantitative data, and tactics like ride-alongs or onsite observation for qualitative data, said Taylor Coppock, a product manager.

Where is the best place for your company to gather the feedback needed to capture the voice of the customer?

The best feedback occurs in natural environments where we get to fully understand the customer’s situation. We do this in a number of ways. We capture the voice of the customer via ride-alongs, where the district managers visit and chat with dealerships, and we attend their corporate regional office meetings. Of course, both have changed due to the pandemic as we adjust to virtual opportunities.

Observing their natural environment leads to unbiased opinions. I’ve sat on the sales floor in a dealership watching a customer walk through our software, and this interaction isn’t something you can misinterpret. I’m scribbling down notes as I see opportunities to improve page navigation. This environment helps us understand exactly where they are in their journey. 

 

How do you synthesize this data in order to capture deeper insights into your customers’ behaviors and preferences?

We use Heap Analytics for quantitative data to provide guidance as we make product decisions. This tool helps us find usage patterns and confirm certain actions among the journey. But we can’t look at this data alone to make decisions. In line with one of our company values, “be customer inspired,” we rely heavily on customer context to evolve our product. 

Our customer success team has decades of automotive experience and knows how to unpeel the industry wrapper from customer feedback. By speaking the same language, we are more equipped to deeply understand our customers’ unique situation, values and goals. 

 

How do you leverage VoC to improve the different stages of the customer journey or to inform your product/marketing/CS strategies?

When our marketing team coordinated poker nights and happy hours with automotive leaders, we were able to build brand awareness while learning both current and soon-to-be challenges in the automotive industry. This led us to assemble our retail plan manager, a suite of collaborative, goal-tracking tools for district managers to keep dealerships on track even when life throws curveballs. Think of this like a product roadmap but for dealers and automotive brands, ensuring that plans and goals are broken down into achievable targets, even if the entire year changes. Product and engineering mocked up an early workflow of this product, and hopped on calls with district managers to play it out against their actual 2020 process. We quickly learned the collaboration that happens in the field wasn’t fully represented, so we took this feedback and expanded the workflow.

Rapid7

Annissa Peterson

SENIOR CUSTOMER SUCCESS MANAGER

Trust is a critical product that Rapid7 provides. The cybersecurity software company helps its clients reduce risk, who trust it to manage any vulnerabilities, monitor malicious behavior and investigate and shut down any cyberattacks. That’s why at Rapid7, it’s no surprise that trust plays an integral role in capturing its customers’ voice, which is done through candid conversations and listening, Annissa Peterson, a senior customer success manager, explained. 

Where is the best place for your company to gather the feedback needed to capture the voice of the customer?

The best place for feedback is in candid conversations with customers. Although Rapid7 has wonderful survey mechanisms such as NPS, the heart of actionable and valuable feedback happens in conversations with our customers. As we build trust and rapport, our customers share their goals and business objectives and explain how our products enable them to accomplish these goals, or where we have great opportunities to build additional features based on customer use cases. 

In order for our customers to be willing to take the time and energy to share their ideas and needs, we have to ensure we are clearly documenting the use cases, submitting them internally and then updating the customer as progress or features are made. As with any software product, we aim to meet the needs of all of our customers, but sometimes that is not possible and we have to be willing to give transparent feedback on those requests as well. 

 

How do you synthesize this data in order to capture deeper insights into your customers behaviors and preferences? 

From pre-sales, to deployment, to ongoing enablement and support, we listen to our customers’ needs. These needs are documented in Jira. Rapid7 product management uses these requests to guide the road map, especially when several of our customers have requested the same functionality.

We also have the Rapid7 Voice program, which encourages customers to become an extension of our team as advocates and participants in early access programs. We have a customer experience team designed to fully understand our customers’ journey. They gather unbiased customer feedback via surveys or research interviews and then send that information directly to product management to influence road map decisions.

 

How do you leverage VoC to improve the different stages of the customer journey or to inform your product/marketing/CS strategies? 

Our pre-sales teams listen to customers and get to the true pain of what they are trying to solve or accomplish. These deep discovery discussions can uncover customer stories that we may not have heard before or new use cases that recently have become a priority for a certain industry.

Rapid7’s customer success managers are able to connect our customers directly with the product team by facilitating participation in many early access programs. These programs allow our customers to directly affect what our teams are building in real time by testing and giving feedback on user experience and functionality.

Sysco LABS

Craig Neely

DIRECTOR OF USER EXPERIENCE

Even though Sysco LABS is a technology-focused division within Sysco, its website reads “customer first, technology second.” According to Craig Neely, director of user experience, that sentiment rings true with every stage of the customer journey. For example, the company tracks customer satisfaction via its own flagship application, which easily allows customers to shop for their restaurant food supplies.

 

Where is the best place for your company to gather the feedback needed to capture the voice of the customer?

Our customers are primarily restaurant owners and operators across the United States, so the best place to gather feedback is at their restaurants, learning how they do their day-to-day activities, understanding what they need and seeing how they run their businesses. However, given the new environment, we now do this virtually through video calls via our customers and sales teams. Over the last few years, we built out panels that include a significant number of customers and sales representatives that we can use for our research. Having an engaged group of willing participants is invaluable. In addition to the direct interactions with our customers, we also gather feedback through surveys, support and web metrics.

How do you synthesize this data in order to capture deeper insights into your customers behaviors and preferences? 

We synthesize data using various qualitative and quantitative methods. We gather small-n usability testing, which involves looking at the same subjects over time, and interview data for deep insights into our customers. Videos and audio are very impactful. We also gather large-n survey data, which looks for patterns in a large number of cases using random selections, which we analyze using various methodologies including regression analysis and sentiment analysis. This data is also made available to our product and design teams through a single data repository to allow anyone interested to self-serve customer insights and data examples as needed. This repository is also used to track issues through discovery, prioritization and resolution in one location.

How do you leverage VoC to improve the different stages of the customer journey or to inform your product/marketing/CS strategies? 

Customer data is ubiquitous throughout our design and development processes, from the initial concept of an idea that gets tested with users over multiple iterations to post-product release surveys to track customer satisfaction. We track customer satisfaction (CSAT) on our flagship application that allows our customers to easily shop for their restaurant food supplies. Our CSAT data over the last five quarters showed a statistically significant improvement year over year. In addition to numeric CSAT, open-ended responses are also analyzed and used to drive priorities. This CSAT metric shows that the work put in by everyone at Sysco LABS has a tangible impact on our customers’ experiences and motivates our teams to continue to improve.

BigCommerce

Neal McCoy

SENIOR DIRECTOR OF PROFESSIONAL SERVICES

While many businesses and industries have seen a sharp decline due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the same cannot be said for BigCommerce. The e-commerce company helps other businesses set up e-commerce websites, which is the direction many companies are trending toward in an increasingly virtual shopping environment. To capture their voice and needs, Neal McCoy, senior director of professional services, said that the company constantly engages their customers via surveys and conversation. “Every step of the way, we want to know how we are serving our customers,” he said.

Where is the best place for your company to gather the feedback needed to capture the voice of the customer? 

BigCommerce has a robust NPS program where we collect feedback and close the loop with our customers. Additionally, we also survey our customers after we’ve delivered a service to capture their feedback. 

 

How do you synthesize this data in order to capture deeper insights into your customers’ behaviors and preferences? 

BigCommerce uses traditional survey and data collection tools, but what is important is what we do with the data. Our leaders not only review and discuss customer feedback, but also close the loop. We follow up and speak with our customers to gain a deeper understanding. We take that feedback, compare it and validate it against trends in our business. We make the data actionable to provide our customers with better service.

How do you leverage VoC to improve the different stages of the customer journey or to inform your product/marketing/CS strategies? 

We survey and close the loop with our customers every step of the way. This can occur with an onboarding service, support or through our NPS Program. Every step of the way, we want to know how we are serving our customers.

 

Responses edited for length and clarity. Photography provided by companies listed, unless otherwise noted.