Note: The following post comes courtesy of Steve Bernstein, founder of Waypoint Group.
If you’re reading this blog you probably know that improvement comes from action, not just listening. After years of consulting with many big name B2B SaaS and tech companies, Waypoint Group has often found that the right intention is there, but the execution is lacking somewhere along the customer journey.
It’s not for lack of trying, but getting everyone to participate can be difficult when they already have competing priorities. Acting on the voice-of-the-customer (VoC) isn’t something that can happen overnight and it’s not something only one individual can own.
One obstacle we run in to when onboarding a client is wrangling all the key leaders from different departments in the business to join a customer success (CS) steering committee. Getting buy-in from each portion of the business in advance of any survey process isn’t just to satisfy the latest “cross-functional” buzzword trend, but more of a vital element for a successful CS program. B2B customers interact with so many different touchpoints of your company, it would be a disservice to them to ignore any one area.
The most important reason to be cross-functional is the need to effectively drive change with the VoC insights. If there are no plans or requirements to take action, then showing someone feedback data that will only go as far as a report is likely to fall flat. This is especially true if you’re just starting out with a customer engagement program because you’ll be building results as evidence to scale out.
What good is receiving product usability feedback when product is not on board with listening to customers for ways to change it? How would you address the symptoms and root-causes if customers are looking for improved product support?
There are a million other scenarios where innovation and action can be stalled due to lack of involvement. Top-down initiatives are often the easiest, but sadly, sometimes it takes the middle man to take initiative.
Lots of companies also talk about mapping out the customer journey, which is absolutely crucial to understand how and where your customers are interacting with you, but if you are not monitoring the transition between those areas, then you could be mishandling your relationship.
As a result, we caution our clients to “mind the gaps.”
It’s the journey that the customer goes through that drives handoffs from sales to onboarding to customer support, and where the magic happens—or fails to happen. By definition, “handoffs” means “cross-functional” and a lack of involvement from any one part of the business prevents the right solutions that will drive customer success and loyalty. Everyone needs to work together to build a seamless experience from start to finish, which means “cross-functional” is no longer trendy, but tactical.
Having trouble getting buy-in from other departments? Here are some tips on how to recruit others:
Everyone wants to know what’s in it for them, so sell it that way. Tailor your pitch to that specific naysayer to illustrate how acting on voice of customer insights will drive a success cycle with happy customers and profitable growth. The ability to position your company as leaders in customer success with innovative solutions to customer problems is the fastest way to accelerate profitable growth.
Who doesn’t enjoy the tangible numbers from a case study? If you need to convince someone to join the customer success steering committee, start small, build results and show off your evidence! Evidence-based decision making is always better than decision-based evidence making.
Customer success doesn’t just have to apply to product changes. It can answer virtually any question you’d like to know about your business. Put together a list of questions you (or others) would want answered, like…
- Which accounts are at-risk of leaving? How much money is in jeopardy of being lost/can be saved?
- Are we to hard to do business with?
- Where can we improve our customer’s journey so they achieve success with our offerings?
- What are we doing well that our customers love?
- How can we market ourselves more effectively with the help of our customers?
Although customer engagement has seen great improvements in the past couple of years, it may still be necessary to “sell” the idea within your company to gain true cross-functional harmony. As long as you are able to “mind the gaps” within your customer journey, then you should be on the right track to profitable growth.
Steve Bernstein is the founder of Waypoint Group, a Bay Area-based B2B consulting firm that focuses on actionable insights to fuel customer success.
Prior to founding Waypoint Group, Steve was responsible for Solutions Development at Satmetrix, the co-developer of Net Promoter(R), and has enjoyed over 20 years in the customer loyalty industry.