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Learn what is the Voice of the Customer and a step-by-step guide on using VoC capabilities to ensure customer success.
Most great ideas don’t always transform into prodigious software. And if you manage to create impressive software then not necessarily all features that you develop in it add value to customers leading to something we popularly refer to as ‘feature bloating’ in software parlance.
Take our own experience on the software we use, how many features in a software or app do we really use? Do we even know them all? One of the primary reasons for that is the lack of understanding or the inability to solve the problems that customers really wanted solved. The need is amplified when our primary goal it to ensure the success of our customers.
Before you put in a lot of effort in developing features for your software, which incidentally takes a lot of time and effort – something that is worth its weight in gold in a highly competitive market, a recommended best practice is to put in the effort initially to understanding the needs of the customer.
There are many methods to capture the voice of the customer. However, one of the highly recommended methods remains the use of surveys. While there are a number of survey tools out there in the market, if you are a Customer Success Manager trying to understand your customer needs, what will help immensely is to be able to conduct a survey, review the findings in the context of your customer success activities and to subsequently action it accordingly.
Most existing survey tools in the market don’t allow you to do that seamlessly as they are separate isolated systems. Which means you typically analyse the customer’s sentiments and usage in a customer success software, transition to a survey tool to conduct, collate and analyse the results and then finally transition back to the customer success software to take recommended action considering it allows you to do so.
The SmartKarrot customer success platform on the other hand has effective ‘voice of the customer’ capabilities (Surveys, Campaigns, Automated Emails, etc.) integrated into it to help you effortlessly obtain the voice of the customer. Since it is integrated into the customer success platform it also allows you to take necessary and relavent action as appropriate. This ensures that you are focusing on the ‘right’ problems and ensuring your efforts are directed towards solving those problems and thereby ensuring customer success.
Here’s an illustration of how the teams at SmartKarrot used one of the ‘voice of the customer’ capabilities in the platform to aid the customer success managers and leaders keep abreast with what is happening on their customer success activities and processes on a regular basis.
A combination of activities conducted on the SmartKarrot platform allows the Customer Success Managers to review what features are being used and understand the patterns of usage. This includes examining the ‘Product Console’ and ‘Feature Usage Report.’
The findings are shared with the Product Team in a regular sync up between the Customer Success Managers and the Product Team. The interactions between the two primary stakeholders in the customer success world helps define the roadmap for the platform which is a key contributor to ensuring customer success.
Post examination of the findings the Product Team decides to additionally obtain an understanding from the users on what could help them in their day-to-day customer success activities. The survey capability within SmartKarrot is used as a primary ‘voice of the customer’ mechanism for this exercise. The simple step by step wizard interface of the survey feature quickly allows anyone with limited experience of setting up a survey to quicky create one. Moreover, the ability to be able to segment and define the intended audience of customer stakeholders from within the SmartKarrot platform is an added advantage that specialized survey tools do not provide.
The survey is sent out to customer stakeholders and inputs get consolidated in the platform. The SmartKarrot platform also provides automated actions to help Customer Success Managers keep track of the participation so they can nudge users to complete the survey if they have not completed it.
Now to the exciting part… the survey results. Every customer success stakeholder would be eager to know what their customers have had to say. Relavent and necessary actions can only be possible subsequently. The comprehensive survey results within the platform help the team analyse the inputs from customer stakeholders.
The summary helps keep tab on how many participants have taken up the survey while how many more needed to be nudged to do so. Other necessary data points about the time taken allows the customer success leaders to provide feedback on optimising the survey in future if needed.
The platform also provides the ability to review the findings by participants and by specific customer if needed, or examining the survey responses in its entirety. This allows the team to understand who from which customer accounts is saying what and what is the overall opinion of the group suggesting. These multiple perspectives are important aids in effective decision making.
A customer centric team is one which actions the findings from the ‘voice of the customer’ to provide value to its users. Critical questions on what the primary focus areas of customer success managers were, how often they were involved in customer success related activities and how often they would like to be updated on their ongoing activities among other questions was clearly understood from the survey results. The Product and Design team at SmartKarrot quickly sprang into action to develop concepts to help Customer Success Managers plan and track their day-to-day activities. Further research was also conducted on what would be the best mechanism to encourage adoption and usage of the capability being proposed.
Research pointed to the fact that ‘Email’ is still the most used communication tool. It also called out that ~50% of users access email every few hours and that most users start their day by checking email. From a customer success planning perspective these were important nuggets to leverage. The team decided to design and develop a Success Digest which could go out to Customer Success Managers (daily) and Leaders (weekly) and help them plan their activities.
The design and development of a success digest also meant that it’s not yet another feature resulting in ‘feature floating’ but a mechanism that provides visibility and a nudge to use the platform as and when relavent.
Post design and development of the success digests they were christened as the ‘Success Planner’ for the Customer Success Managers – intended to aid in their planning work; and the ‘Success Review’ for the Customer Success Leaders – intended to aid in their weekly portfolio and team review.
The capability has been subsequently rolled out successfully to all our customers while the SmartKarrot team continues to obtain feedback on the capability to further improve on it.22
Are you ensuring that you effectively capture the ‘voice of your customer’ to understand their problems and needs? If not, you should get in touch with us at SmartKarrot to learn more about the benefits and effective ways of engaging with customers using the SmartKarrot platform and ensuring customer success.
Vikram Rao is a user experience design evangelist currently with SmartKarrot. He provides UX solutions for organizations to build usable software products and applications. He graces UX events as a speaker and conducts workshops on the same.
Published April 18, 2022, Updated May 17, 2022
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