How Apollo.io grew 9x by mapping customer feedback to revenue
We recently sat with Abishek Viswanathan, Chief Product Officer at one of the most successful PLG companies, Apollo.io, for an insightful conversation. During our chat he shared how Apollo.io accelerates its product growth by mapping customer feedback to revenue impact and how their Voice of Customer program that has helped reduce support requests by over 40%.
Read on to get the recap or watch a replay of our conversation ➡️ Roundtable: Connect Customer Feedback to Revenue Impact.
Understanding the Voice of Customer - make it a science
"In Product Led Growth, you cannot hide value. You have to prove value to the customer every step of the way," Abishek emphasized. "We have the analytics to understand where people are dropping off in the product usage funnel, but we needed to move from where to why," Abishek shared. This commitment to understanding the 'why' led Abishek and his team to establish the VoC initiative at Apollo.io.
"Unfortunately for most teams, it has become an art when it should be a science," says Abishek. "It's understandable - product teams want to develop the Voice of Customer. Getting to that ideal state means talking to 1000s of customers and synthesizing all that information - which often is impossible and feels overwhelming."
To tackle this challenge of managing feedback at scale, Abishek and the team used Enterpret to consolidate all feedback so the organization can understand and align around the Voice of Customer.
Root Cause Elimination - the evolution of VoC
Apollo.io's VoC strategy involves Root Cause Elimination (RCE). RCE uses customer insights to identify the main reasons behind customer churn or friction, quantifying them by revenue impact and then systematically addressing these issues. "With RCE, we understand the actual outcome of when our team goes to fix some of these issues and whether our investments and fixes are reducing friction."
Abishek shared the RCE framework used at Apollo.io:
- Combine all customer feedback and data to develop a holistic data-driven understanding of VoC
- Surface themes in an automated way
- Prioritize themes by revenue to determine what needs to be eliminated or automated
- Take action and measure the outcome
Finding the Pareto by mapping feedback to revenue
Abishek believes automation, events, and metrics should solve usability issues and bugs. " If users are contacting support about either, it means you're not just wasting an associate's time but also frustrating the customer."
Abishek and his team looked at the distribution of issues and found:
- 40% root cause fixes (mostly bugs, UX, and usability issues)
- 40% usability issue or education (empower users to self-serve)
- 20% organic to the business (human contact necessary)
With this understanding, the team used VoC insights across surveys, support chats, cancellation surveys, and customer interviews, bucketing these and prioritizing by ARR. What they were able to do was identify the Pareto* in the first two buckets of issues. (*Pareto is identifying 20% of the issues that cause 80% of the damage or 80% of the inbound contacts.)
"There is a long tail of things that you could continuously keep trying to improve, but it won't improve metrics as much. There is an opportunity cost there. You can use engineering to build a new feature rather than solve that one issue that will automatically get sorted out in the roadmap." The ultimate goal is to free up teams to focus on the highest-impact investments, says Abishek.
Using Enterpret, Apollo.io consolidates all their different sources into categories and associates them with the customer segments by buyers, titles, and locations. Once the data is consolidated, Enterpret helps to enrich and surface much better data so the team can take action to tackle these problems segment by segment.
Apollo.io reduces human inquiry rate by over 40% using VoC
"Since launching our Voice of Customer program six months ago, our team has dropped our human inquiry rate by over 40%, improved customer satisfaction, and enabled our team to allocate resources to building features that increase LTV and revenue."
For Abishek, "The big win-win is our VoC program enabled us to leverage our engineering resources to ship significantly awesome and valuable features while minimizing bug fixes and" keep the lights on" work. Magnifying and focusing on the 20% that causes the impact is like finding the needle in a haystack, especially when you have issues coming from all over the place." says Abishek.
Evolving VoC and RCE to drive PLG
That's many acronyms, but for Apollo, this is a multi-phase strategic journey to enhance user experience and product value at every phase of the PLG journey. This phased approach, emphasizing root cause elimination and continuous improvement, ensures that current users derive maximum value from the product, new users are effectively onboarded, and long-term value is delivered for all.
Advice for product teams looking to establish Voice of Customer
For other product organizations looking to spin up a VoC program, Abishek stressed the importance of tying the program to specific business outcomes. "Set up a VoC program that is targeted towards a core problem your business is facing; do not set up a VoC program just for the sake of it," he advised.
Abishek reflected on what he would do differently with the VoC program rollout. "In hindsight, I wish we had rolled it out to the entire organization from day one. We piloted with a few teams with the highest Human Interaction Rates (HIR). We saw a significant improvement in self-service pretty soon after rolling out VoC+ RCE initiatives. Having one central VoC/RCE program with the tools set up and the insights flowing in means that all teams had access to the four issues they needed to concentrate on to drop their HIR. Enterpret centralized VoC and saved time on the cross-organization coordination."
If you want more advice on establishing a Voice of Customer program at a PLG company, we did a full Q&A in this blog post with some very actionable advice from Abishek.
VoC is critical for any customer-led company
Our discussion with Abishek highlights the power of a customer-centric approach in driving revenue and delivering value to customers. By aggregating all customer feedback and directly integrating that volume with revenue, the Apollo.io team will continue to make informed bets that compound on themselves over time.
If you'd like to connect customer feedback to revenue impact, please don't hesitate to get in touch with the Enterpret team for a chat. Or follow us on LinkedIn or X for more VoC insights and to be notified of our future events!