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Key to Voice-of-Customer program success

Posted on September 25, 2012 , by Steve Bernstein
CATEGORIES: Case Examples

MindTouch provides software and services to help enterprises deliver exceptional “help” experiences.  We recently sat down with Corey Ganser, the Customer Experience leader for MindTouch, to discuss MindTouch’s customer experience program and how it benefits them.

Q: What prompted you to start a Customer Experience program?

When I initially started with MindTouch I was leading the Customer Support department and I needed to understand how well MindTouch was doing in the customer’s eyes.  How could we improve?  As a smaller company, being customer-focused is critical, and a main competitive advantage.  Therefore the focus was on ensuring customers were happy and not on ‘tickets closed’ or other internal metrics.
While our initial measure of customer success was focused on end-user interaction with the Support organization, we realized that was too narrow.  We leveraged Net Promoter – adding a periodic “relationship” questionnaire that also uses the “recommend” question – to make sure customers are happy overall.  We also ask what can we do to improve MindTouch, and that’s where we learn critical customer priorities:  While the majority of that feedback is around product enhancements, we also learn quite a bit about how to improve our communications, training, documentation, and processes.

Q: How did you go about implementing this program?


“To make it work, the key component was to develop strong internal relationships.”

One of the most critical elements was to shine the light on this effort across the company.  To make it work, the key component was to develop strong internal relationships.  I made sure I had a solid understanding of each department’s objectives, initiatives, and processes.  Only then did I collaborate with the CEO and executive team to provide the required insights to the rest of the organization.
In that regard I was able to make sure that the feedback and required actions fit with existing priorities and didn’t just “throw feedback over the wall.”

Q: What would you say are the key outcomes so far?

MindTouch has grown.  We’ve been able to tie this process to individual customers that have grown over time.  Relate it to a personal experience: Have you ever felt that a company has listened to you?  What would you do if they did?  Note that while this effort secures sales growth from existing customers, it doesn’t stop there.

“While this effort secures sales growth from existing customers, it doesn’t stop there.  The benefit of a referral is huge, and you only get it if you ask for it.  ”

The benefit of a referral is huge, and you only get it if you ask for it.
There is also a connection between employee loyalty and customer loyalty:  People stay, they are happy, and that drives results.  We’ve been able to hire smarter to bring in the right DNA.
On the “dark” side, we found early on how important it is to follow-up with everyone.  We have found that feedback deteriorates if we don’t follow-up, even if it’s just a “thank you” for positive comments.  We must respond back to the customer.

 Q:  What are 1 or 2 things you would tell someone just starting this effort?

The most critical part is the follow-up process.  After I triage the issue, the rest of the organization takes action on all feedback.

  • When a customer responds to the recommend question as an “8 or higher”, they are happy with MindTouch so we reach out and ask for case stories, referrals, and even up-sell/cross-sell opportunities.
  • For Scores of 7 or lower, within 2 hours we reach out to find out why and what’s bubbling under the surface.

Second is to use feedback in the Account Management process.  Complementing our Support experience process is a periodic, relationship program that goes out to more people.  Of particular importance is to engage the “quiet” people who may not respond.  Our account managers understand the importance of building relationships, so they use the process to unequivocally know how things are going, and what’s working or not.  Of course, they are finding new sales opportunities through this process as well.
Going forward, we’re continuing to refine customer-facing communications and also improve our internal, employee facing insights.  One example of this is an overall dashboard for each customer showing customers’ “temperature.”  The more we can help drive action, the better off we’ll all be.