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Seeking feedback and being the Voice of the Customer—Part 5 of PMM with Julie Taylor

This is part 5 of a multi-part series all about Product Marketing. Introhive’s Director of Product Marketing, Julie Taylor, will guide you through the ins and outs of creating a product marketing group from scratch. You might want to begin with the introduction to the series if you haven’t already.

In this series, Julie draws upon her own experience and extensive research, letting you in on all (well, almost all) of her trade secrets about essential PMM programs, and passing along all the lessons she’s learned along the way to building a successful team that made the finalists in 2021’s Product Marketing Awards.

Part 5 sees Julie talk about the importance of getting feedback and creating a program where you act as the Voice of the Customer. After all, the customer is who you’re doing all of this for, right?

Feedback is a lot more than just noise

If you’re in PMM, chances are you get way too much fulfillment and satisfaction out of feedback. We have regular practices, programs, and channels where we source feedback. But all of those insights really go to waste if you can’t aggregate, consolidate, distill, weigh, and share findings…and do it regularly. 

First let’s chat about where we get feedback from our customers and the market. We can think about this through 3 lenses: ongoing, pre-development and during development.

  • For this purpose, let’s focus on ongoing…we have:
    • Product behavioural and usage analytics
    • Net Promoter Surveys 
    • User surveys
    • Usability testing
    • Online reviews
    • Customer community
    • Internal stakeholders (sales, marketing, csm, founder vision)
    • Transition plans, account plans
    • Social media
    • call recordings
    • In-app generated feedback
    • Analyst relations
    • Partner channel
    • Market and Competitive intelligence
    • Early adopter and beta programs
    • And last but not least, Win-loss program (which I’ll discuss in another video)

Information overload requires strategy and organization

We’ve accumulated and unlocked these channels over time. When feedback was more rudimentary and limited, we were able to pass off information directly to product managers and sales enablement on a case by case basis. But the scales tipped. And that’s when we realized that we needed to start really organizing and structuring it in order to fully benefit from this two way dialogue we’ve activated.

Be the Voice of the Customer

This is what we’re calling our Voice of Customer. It allows us to understand their expectations, their desired outcomes and jobs to be done, their motivations and the barriers or friction they’re experiencing over time.

To win the war on customer loyalty you must have a single line of sight into your customer, market, and internal stakeholders.

From chaos to creation, here are the things I’d suggest considering when kicking off this overarching program. 

  • Who will own? It should be centrally managed from a holistic view, not individually depending on products. Great ideas can come from very vague descriptions of pains and desires—not necessarily tied to a particular solution.
  • Do you need technology to support the organization and weighting of this information? Does it integrate or is it connected to some of your sources like NPS results? Can it be easily shared or assigned to others?
  • How do you want to categorize each piece? You’ll likely want multiple ways to slice and dice. Some top of mind for us are: industry, source, theme, customer type (i.e. strategic account, long time customer, new customer), annual spend, product area, how well defined or fidelity of that feedback. From here it’s best practice to translate, distill, and capture essence of feedback in a single line so it’s easy to share and see trends. You can even colour code to your liking
  • The next thing you should think about is if certain sources carry greater weight than others
  • Once you’ve categorized, you’ll need to clean up and dedupe the feedback
  • Okay, now that you have structure, certain themes will appear. I’d suggest pulling together an internal and cross-departmental task force that meets on a regular cadence to review and prioritize findings. Some themes will fall outside of your organizational strategic vision so they can be housed elsewhere, others will bubble up to the top. 

The most important skill is listening

The last part of any good Voice of Customer program is to close the loop for those customers who share their voice and opinion in real-time with your organization. They expect you to listen, act, and report back to them on progress. Think about how you can relay this information back to customers or enable your front lines with this information so that customers feel valued—when this happens, they’ll be invested in your success and more apt to share their feedback again, and share their success externally. 

All feedback is gold. Yes, it can be painful when it’s en masse and unstructured, but when mined properly you can find the keys to your company’s future success…and that is well worth the effort.

We’re not done yet

How did we ever live without Product Marketers? It’s a mystery. But luckily we have people like Julie now to make our revenue operations hum. Next in the series she covers how to get better by learning why you win deals, as well as why you sometimes lose. You can also check out more from Introhive’s Product Marketing group.

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