How a strong VoC program drives a better customer experience

Written by Pippa Armes  | 

8 min

 

You’ve aligned your product and customer success teams around a shared feedback process. You recognize the value of building a strong voice of the customer (VoC) program and the role it plays in driving remarkable customer experiences. But now what? How do you analyze all that customer data, identify common themes, and turn those insights into action?

It’s not uncommon for best-laid VoC plans to fall flat when it comes to actually doing something about all that data. But when feedback is acted on strategically, the payoff for your product and customer experience can be massive.

In the final installment of our three-part customer success (CS) series, we’ll explore how the best VoC programs help power the best customer experiences, and share simple strategies to help CS and product teams take the right actions from the feedback they’ve collected.

 

Why VoC is the “secret sauce” behind a great CX

Feedback is a critical source of inspiration for both product and customer success teams. It informs product decisions and adds color to the product roadmap. It helps shape customer service and success motions internally. And it’s a powerful way to help product and customer experience (CX) leaders validate or challenge their assumptions about the way they have been—or should be—engaging with customers.

Bringing customer feedback into your VoC program and using it to guide your product and CX strategy helps you move away from acting on instinct and towards making decisions with data. This impacts your business in a few key ways:

Your customers feel valued

Giving your customers a forum where they can share their thoughts and feedback is one of the most powerful ways to show them that they’re your number one priority. A VoC program and feedback collection workstream shows them that their experience is the crux of your features and offerings. Over time, this builds trust with your users—ultimately making for easier renewal or upsell conversations down the road.

Product teams build the right things

Part of the magic of a well-oiled VoC program is that it captures feedback on an ongoing basis. Unlike a seasonal survey or one-off poll that captures sentiment at a particular point in time, a holistic VoC strategy includes listening posts that allow product teams to gauge how users feel throughout their product journey. This allows product to understand the impact of things like new features or user interface (UI) updates, and helps them correlate user sentiment to key product events. A strong VoC program driven by feedback also helps ensure that product teams build the right things, at the right time. They can leverage customer feedback to uncover opportunities for improvement, prioritize the roadmap, and help predict the potential impact of the features and functionality they’re working on—which ultimately leads to stronger and stickier adoption.

CS teams scale their efforts

Customer success managers (CSMs) are uniquely skilled at fostering strong customer relationships. But as companies (and their client rosters) grow, CSMs can’t stay as close to all their customers as they once did. A strong VoC program helps organizations scale their CS motions by allowing CSMs to keep a pulse on how their customers are feeling and reacting to the product, without the labor-intensive effort of reaching out to every customer individually. 

 

How to turn feedback insights into actions

Feedback is only useful when it’s enriched with context and followed by action. And while every organization has their own unique way of processing and using this data, there are a few universal best practices to keep in mind:

Put all your feedback data in one place

A strong VoC practice helps you operationalize the customer feedback you collect throughout all areas of your business. But to turn that data into action, you need to be able to see it in aggregate—so you can spot trends, understand the scale and volume of a particular theme or request, and align the right teams around the path forward. Whether you’re new to VoC and tracking requests in a spreadsheet or leveraging a feedback platform like Pendo Feedback to capture feedback at scale, it’s critical to get all that information into a single location to make synthesis as seamless and objective as possible.

Find (or create) a repeatable process for synthesizing themes

Once all your feedback data is in a centralized place, you’ll need to establish a clear and repeatable process for interpreting it. If you’re a small team or are just getting started with your VoC efforts, this may begin as a largely manual effort: grouping similar requests or ideas together, then deepening your analysis until you identify the root problem to solve. For teams with huge data sets or those looking to scale their VoC efforts, a platform like Pendo Feedback is a must in the feedback collection and digestion process—helping take much of the manual consolidation out of the equation so you can spend more time acting on the insights you’ve uncovered.

Make time for discussion and knowledge sharing

Once you’ve identified the key themes in your feedback data, bring your CS and product teams together to discuss it. For example, the PetDesk team created a meeting where representatives from across the organization gather to talk about recently received feedback and share product updates that might inform what they’re hearing from customers. Setting up a recurring time for your product and CS teams to meet is a great opportunity to further enrich the data you have. CSMs can add context about customer relationships and requests, while product can provide education on the product roadmap. This healthy dialog strengthens the work of each department and leads to a more cohesive strategy to address the feedback.

Socialize salient findings across the organization

As a general rule, the level of detail you choose to share with your full organization about the feedback you’ve received should be in alignment with your values and communications strategy. Even if you only decide to share an overview of the trends you’re seeing (and how you plan to act on them), communicating back to the organization is a powerful way to help everyone feel a sense of ownership in the product and customer experience—a core tenet of product-led organizations. Here are a few strategies you could try:

  • Install an integration that pulls NPS survey responses directly into your business communication platform so everyone can see and react to real-time customer feedback
  • Produce quarterly product and CX readouts, sharing high-level themes identified from the feedback received during that quarter
  • Send a monthly digest email detailing the key areas of focus for the product team, with customer quotes or feedback requests to help add context

Make a plan and hold teams accountable

Sometimes the feedback you receive is fairly straightforward, aligned to initiatives you’re already working on, or can be easily addressed by a single person or team. But more often, acting on customer feedback takes a more comprehensive, cross-functional approach. As you involve CS, product operations, product, and others, create a shared project plan to clearly outline the role each team or person will play in addressing the feedback. Your internal product roadmap can also be a valuable tool for keeping your product and engineering teams in alignment as they plan out and work through customer requests.

Always close the loop

Once you have a gameplan for tackling (or not tackling) a specific request or piece of feedback, it’s critical to close the loop. Customers will quickly lose trust in your brand if they regularly share their thoughts but never hear back—we call this the black hole of feedback. If you’re using a feedback platform like Pendo Feedback, you can easily automate this process and send a short message to your users whenever the status of their request(s) changes. 

Regardless of whether you’re managing your feedback in spreadsheets or in a scalable system, a Product Feedback Policy is one of the best and most efficient ways to set clear expectations with your customers. This document tells them exactly what to expect from your organization once they hit “submit”—including when they might hear from you, how you manage and use their feedback, and the benefits of sharing their input.

 

Building your VoC muscle

The beauty of VoC is that it’s not just a one-and-done deal. It’s the practice of continually capturing, processing, sharing, and acting on feedback—throughout all stages of the customer journey. And the more you do it, the more repeatable it becomes. If you’re looking to learn more about how to manage feedback at scale and leverage it to improve the customer and product experience, check out these handy resources: