Customer Success leaders have a big role: they’re responsible for championing customers across the company. Product needs customer data to balance features for future and existing customers, and Marketing needs to know which customers are good case study candidates and what content will be most helpful to customers. The Customer team has to help them get the information they need.
So, here are three steps for creating a feedback loop between those teams:
Note: This is a complement and not a substitute for product and marketing teams talking to customers directly.
1. Train all customer facing teams (sales, success, support) to properly extract feedback from customers. Teach them how to ask questions to get to problem root cause vs collect random feature requests.
Here’s a high level script of questions to ask to uncover an underlying issue when a customer shares an idea for a new product feature:
- Thank you for identifying a new product feature that would be valuable to you. I’d like to learn more about this.
- Instead of describing the feature, can you explain what you are trying to achieve or what problem will be solved if we implement this feature?
- Why would this be important to you?
- How would this improve your experience and/or help you achieve your goal?
- Can you share your screen / show me and walk me through how you are interacting with the product and point out where you think this feature would add value?
- What if we did not create this feature? How disappointed would you be and how would it impact your ability to use the product?
These questions will help you understand where the customer is coming from and will almost always surface insights that were not included in the original request.
Pro Tip: Record the conversation / video call with your customer so you can provide the product team with the actual conversation for them to review.
Where this training happens: I typically conduct this type of training in already scheduled team meetings on a quarterly basis and also include in new hire onboarding. The quarterly cadence supports a typical quarterly cadence of synthesizing product feedback from our internal teams and customers to collaborate with product on the future roadmap.
Being able to synthesize customer feedback allows the product team to have valuable input to help them accelerate identifying the most high impact items to improve the customer experience.
2. Host bi-weekly meetings with key stakeholders from sales, support, success, product and marketing to share qualitative feedback and inform front line teams of product releases and marketing campaigns. A positive side effect of this is better alignment and collaboration between these teams.
Typically a member of the product team will host these types of product feedback meetings. To make the most of everyone’s time, it is required that meeting participants prepare in advance and summarize their key learnings in a consolidated document that everyone has access to - everyone comes to the meeting having added their update and read the updates from everyone else so all attendees have a shared context for the discussion. The meeting leader then identifies the key trends / best 2-3 areas for a live discussion and frames the bulk of the meeting around digging into a few areas that will benefit from additional group discussion.
All company leaders want to have a pulse on customer sentiment about the product and service experience. I typically frame these initiatives within the context of being able to create a cadence where we are discussing customer feedback regularly so executive leaders can obtain these important insights once we have this in place.
3. Conduct quarterly deep dives into customer feedback, surveys, closed-lost opportunities and churn reasons to uncover meaningful trends. Synthesize this information and share with the company and use it to inform the product roadmap.
I recommend the head of customer success lead these quarterly deep dive reviews. I’ve typically taken this on in the past with help from other key stakeholders. It is a combination of pulling information like closed-lost reasons and churn reasons from your CRM to highlight why customers leave or choose not to buy and couple that with any recent survey feedback / qualitative insights from your internal teams to identify trends.
After the analysis, it is important to document the information in a brief presentation or document that can be shared more broadly with the company so everyone is operating with the same information and understands the friction points / benefits of using our product / service.
In my experience this process has generated important insights that inspired real change. For example, at one company the feedback showed clear friction in our users ability to request a service on our marketplace, which caused significant drop off in the experience. This identification coupled with additional customer research from the product team to validate it, resulted in a revamped user experience to find a service that dramatically improved the customer experience and increased the conversion rate of requests to purchases.
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The top articles this week:
This week's newsletter features posts on:
- Breadth and Depth in Adoption
- How to Use Feedback to Create High-Performing Teams
- How a Hypergrowth SaaS Company Keeps Customers
- Why Burnout Should Be a Topic at Your Next Leadership Meeting
Breadth and Depth in Adoption
“When adoption is limited to a single dimension, that inherently carries risk.” Brian Lafaille, Global Head - Customer Success Strategic Programs at Google, breaks adoption down into breadth, meaning how widely is your platform adopted across the user base of your customer, and depth, meaning the stickiness of your platform.
How to Use Feedback to Create High-Performing Teams
Here’s Ryan Sydnor, Co-founder of Grow, with a detailed framework (with talking points) for creating a feedback culture. The section on “how to request feedback” was especially good; Ryan explains why high-quality requests (e.g., “What specifically did you think was great?”) get meaningful responses, and he argues against using low-quality requests (e.g, “I’m always open to feedback”) which generally lead to feedback that’s too general to be helpful.
ADOPTION & EXPANSION
How a Hypergrowth Company Keeps Customers
Diana De Jesus recaps a workshop hosted by Brian Reuter (Director of CS at Zendesk) on how to build your way up to expansion. He offers 7 steps to getting adoption right, then shares how to frame your expansion outreach.
Why Burnout Should Be a Topic at Your Next Leadership Meeting, and What to Do About It
“There are two paths to banishing burnout: the individual path, and the organizational path… An organizational approach starts with management first identifying mismatches that are commonly shared, and then connecting with individuals to narrow thes person-organization gaps.” Here’s Tomasz Tunguz on why preventing burnout in the workplace is especially important right now.
For more on this topic, read Christina Maslach’s article in the Stanford Social Innovation Review.