How to build and scale a Voice of the Customer Program: Learn from leaders at Figma, Notion, and Zoom
Actionable insights derived from customer feedback play a crucial role in the product lifecycle. These insights allow you to assess how well your product meets the customers' needs and helps you pave the ideal product roadmap.
In other words, you need to hear what your customers are saying so that you can make changes based on their input. Companies need VOC tools and processes to make a feedback management and insights program.
But who owns the customer feedback data? How should product teams prioritize customer feature requests? How to run a successful Voice of Customer [VOC] program?
All of these questions and more are answered by the leaders themselves in this event by Enterpret. “Scaling customer insights during hypergrowth”, a virtual roundtable hosted by Enterpret, is a fully immersive discussion that gives you access to insightful conversations with the leaders at Figma, Notion, Zoom, and Enterpret - a customer feedback analytics platform.
Varun (CEO and Co-founder at Enterpret) hosted this conversation alongside
- John Beckmann - Head of Product (Meetings and Webinars) at Zoom
- Misty Smith - Head of Product Operations at Notion
- Michael Nguyen - Head of Voice of Customer Program at Figma.
This blog post outlines the tested methods, and opinions on how teams manage customer feedback data, how to build and run a voice of the customer program at scale, bottlenecks and the benefits of automating customer feedback insights with a human touch.
How to package customer insights
How should insights creators like product operations, VOC and customer experience teams think about packaging the customer insights for insight consumers like executives, product managers and engineers?
Misty strongly suggests, "We should package customer insights in the way our consumers want to see it. The insight creators spend a lot of effort in putting the insights together. But if it's not in a format that our consumers can consume, arranged along the same priorities and themes that the consumers understand and care about, then all that effort is for nothing. And it's a lot of good data that really isn't going anywhere. So the most important thing is to figure out what information your consumers want."
How do we understand what our consumers want to see? We just have to ask them.
Misty highlights “Ask your consumers – hey, what do you want to see? How do you want to see the data? Sometimes you have to try a couple of things and really actively solicit that feedback. If you don't actively solicit that feedback in the early stages, you might not get it. So send out the report, then send a follow-up in a couple of days and then maybe go to a couple of most influential key stakeholders and say, what do you think? How can I change this? How can I make this work better for you?
And not just that, get commitment from your consumers to do something with this information because you're putting insights out and everyone's like, great, but what do I do with this? That's nice. Thanks for this information. I'm just gonna go do what I was gonna do anyway.
So curate customer insights and make sure it comes with actionable recommendations or actionable problem statements depending on the culture of your organization, but make sure there's always that link to the big pile of data for anyone who does want to dive in and learn more.”
Michael agreed with Misty, and shared how customer insights are shared at Figma, “At Figma, product builders are very comfortable ingesting feedback, digging into it, following up with customers. So they really like this traceability aspect of like, oh, can I follow up with that user? Can I see the video? Can I see the actual verbatims?”
And then timing's another aspect. So for us, it's to deliver the right insights, to the right people at the right time, which is another factor that's important.
We now deliver the insights in a very lightweight way so people can scan it and kind of build ambient awareness, but then have the metadata so that product builders can follow up or connect with other data sources like revenue, usage levels, and tenure.
Tools like Enterpret help you in keeping this data in a place where you can go and start mining data, no matter what the data or the source of feedback source”
Michael also said, “It’s really packaging in a way that inspires the product team for their use-case within the product development life cycle, educating the insight producers on what that best format is, and training on how to wear your researcher hat when you're on a sales call or you're on a demo. And then, capturing as much metadata without adding too much friction to the process.”
Packaging customer insights for multi-product companies
John from Zoom who is the consumer of customer insights being on the product management side, shared - “I'm very interested in making sure that I can get feedback for my product because in a one-product company it’s less of an issue and it sounds like it might be silly, but when you have a lot of products at a company, not every feedback channel is actually well geared to be able to just parse it into products, A, B, and C as cleanly as you would like.
Once you've narrowed it down to your own product, then taxonomy becomes crucial. And by that, I also mean areas of the product. So if I'm tackling ‘meetings’ in Zoom, there's a huge footprint and surface area. And I would ideally love to know information about joining a meeting and about ending a meeting, sharing screen, and virtual backgrounds. And these are all a taxonomy and structure that I would like to apply to the feedback when you get larger people own different areas of the product.
And then other things that I'm interested in are things like what is the general sentiment of our user base around that area. And that would allow you to see if it's good or bad and trending up or down and allow you to follow up with your user research team on understanding why, if something isn't the way that you like it.
I would also, for each area, ideally be able to say, okay, well, what are the top requests that are the most common? And by that, I mean fairly specific, when you get down to individual feature levels, people online tend to be specific. And so aggregating that and helping with prioritization would be super helpful.”
Challenges & Tips on Scaling Customer Insights During Hypergrowth Stage
Next up in the conversation, leaders from hypergrowth companies shared their challenges while scaling customer insights. They pointed out the things which work in early stages and break at a scale and how folks can be cautious while scaling a voice of customer program.
How do VOC programs come into play?
Michael, being an early Asana member, mentioned how customer insights were pondered upon while at an early stage of the company. “It was like three of us in a room and be like, hey, what are the top 10 things people ask for product teams asking, and we can hash it out and agree in like an hour”, says Michael.
He further added, “So I think one thing that typically breaks while scaling customer insights is the diversity of voices that are being represented. As your product scales to more audiences, you have different types of personas and when that becomes broad enough where one or two or three teams can't really represent the right sample size of our customer, then the people and relationship approach tends to break.
Then what typically happens is there's like, okay, well, let's put a side project for one of these teams that will help figure that out. And I think that's how a lot of VOC programs are born.”
What are the early signs that you need to start a VOC program?
Misty thinks, “It starts breaking down when everything (customer requests) is flying around on slack and no one knows where to find where anything (where / who its coming from).
If you start trying to categorize everything right out of the bat like you don't have enough information, you don't have instincts to start with, to understand where to start, but where it can start breaking down as your organization grows, as your number of customers grow, as your product grows, it becomes almost impossible to retain that instinct in an accurate way. And in this way, if you’ve an institutional historical knowledge of what the top customer concerns are, that doesn't necessarily hold six months down the line. So, it calls for some process in place, and data integrity in place sooner, rather than later, that institutional historical knowledge is going to persist and be inaccurate.
Additionally, John highlights a special moment in digital product history – product behavior pre and post COVID. “Feedback volume for Zoom skyrocketed. So I joined zoom in January of 2020, so literally about five weeks before the COVID hit, and the internal chart started changing their behavior pretty quickly. And so in a three-month time span, a lot of intake sources of information grew by almost 50X. I had certainly not seen anything like that and it probably impacts the 3 things I’ll share now regarding what breaks at scale.”
According to John, here are the 3 challenges while scaling a Voice of Customer Program:
- “The holistic view of the entire customer insight program – how to curate insights and make sure that the right people have access to it. Apart from that, making sure insight consumers (product managers, engineers, etc.) understand that what they know an enterprise customer is asking for is not the same as what the free customers are asking for.”
- “I think the second thing that would break is just selecting the right tools and setting up a process. When companies scale, they need to move from a place where data intake sources were manageable by a human once a week to definitely needing software help. And there are lots of different tools that are relevant because the type of feedback can vary so dramatically. NPS is not the same as open feedback, is not the same as social media monitoring, not the same as customer advisory boards and so on.
- The third one is based on our experiences, depending on the feedback channels that you've set up, managing expectations around what people can get out of the feedback channel is actually a challenge in itself. In a lot of cases if you open up feedback forms, people think it's like support and they create a ticket and somebody will get back to them. But it's not like that.”
Close the feedback loop and delight your customers
Customers are delighted when you send them a personalized communication saying, ‘Hey, here’s a feature you requested and we did it’. Experts at this round-table expressed that closing the customer feedback loop is a good practice to implement in your processes to ultimately keep your customers happy, product teams motivated and create a win-win situation for all.
Read more about how Enterpret is helping Notion supercharge their product feedback loop.
How Do You Drive Adoption for a Voice of Customer [VOC] Program?
Since there is not enough literature on VOC programs, companies might not take these programs seriously. So how do we drive adoption to make sure any customer feedback never goes unnoticed? It’s a company philosophy that can be put in place.
Michael believes, “Taking inventory of all the feedback channels, communicating where they are, what type of biases they may have, what limitations they might have and exposing it across the organization is helpful. But I think it really takes time to understand how product development works within your company.
You need to understand moments when feedback is most useful, which teams are using it, and how to champion and elevate those teams and model that behavior for more such win-win opportunities. Focus on how you make it easier for salespeople to capture feedback and then how you make it easier for that feedback to get routed to the product team. How do you make it easier for marketing to close the loop? And so by designing these processes and experiences in a way that benefits everyone across this loop, and then when you have won, like – hey, we responded to 20,000 pieces of feedback for this AB test. Let's share these win-win situations to elevate the product teams and the customer-facing teams that are going above and beyond to usher this kind of philosophy that customer insights really matter.”
He also added, “It’s also about trust – trust between insight generators and insight consumers. I think it's really key to understand that culture and how to repair it, how to enrich it for these types of programs.”
John highlighted the most important aspect of adopting a VOC program, “I believe it is visibility from leadership. Having a principle around customer insights is obviously important and at Zoom, customer happiness is a big driving principle, but the help you need from leadership is to follow through on that. It’s helpful to regularly call that out to make sure that there is an ownership over voice of the customer at scale, and that people know who that person is."
How do you measure the success of a VOC program?
According to Misty, “You want to define your own success criteria and figure out how you want to see numbers move? Which numbers are you looking to gain more users to drive greater adoption of certain features?
But to me, the ultimate success of customer data reporting, customer data feedback, and the voice of the customer program are – do you see change? Do you see a change in action happen as a result of the feedback and data that you have access to?
Success is seeing a change in the product, a change in customer behavior, or a change in numbers that are important to companies.”
Selecting the right customer feedback analysis tool, automating feedback processes, coping with challenges while scaling VOC programs and keeping the holistic view of customer feedback data intact, we learned a lot from this roundtable.
We cannot agree more with all the leaders in their thoughts on they need for VOC programs, how to build them, packaging customer insights and the future of voice of the customer programs.
Hope you found these insights from Notion, Figma and Zoom helpful.
Enterpret – a customer feedback analytics platform and we are working with some great product, product ops, and VOC teams like Notion, Lambdatest and Airbase to help them identify actionable insights to build better products for their customers.
If you’d like to share your story of building a VOC program or learn more about how your team can use Enterpret, reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org or schedule a demo.
PS: Complete event recording is available here.