How 5 LA Companies Capture — and Leverage — the Voice of the Customer

August 28, 2020

Around 95 percent of purchasing decisions happen in the subconscious, according to Harvard professor Gerald Zaltman.

That statistic motivates Uwe Gutschow’s strategy team at digital agency MediaCom to push for more customer feedback and explore not only what customers say but also what they mean. 

Figuring out the Voice of the Customer (VoC) allows companies to understand their customers’ wants, needs and behaviors. While direct feedback through customer surveys or social media is helpful, uncovering the ‘whys’ of customers — why they buy, why they don’t buy — provides deeper insights. 

Gutschow said his team uses electroencephalogram (EEG) technology and physiological indicators to track customers’ subconscious choices. Seeing which stimuli customers respond to helps MediaCom create more effective engagement strategies.

But feedback should come from multiple sources, Gutschow and other tech professionals in Los Angeles told Built In. Surveys may work for some customers, while others may respond better to a check-in. Anecdotal evidence, social media analysis, data capture and more help product and customer success teams create a full customer profile.   

From there, customer data can be input into analytics tools for a better understanding of their behaviors and emotions.  

“If we understand the behaviors, but more importantly, the underlying emotions — then we can architect the right opportunities for our client’s brand to be an authentic part of people’s lives,” Gutschow said. 

Below, leaders from five Los Angeles tech companies shared with Built In the importance of listening to and integrating feedback from customers, across all departments. 

 

Dan Berkowitz
Chief Product Officer

Chief Product Officer Dan Berkowitz said his team measures both direct and indirect customer feedback at digital insurance platform Sure. Doing so requires asking the right person, the right question, at the right time. That data is then used to enhance product roadmaps and prioritize feature releases. Sure's product team even incorporates learnings from VoC in real time throughout the customer journey — from discovery to platform launch, and even improving future products. For example, the company included geofencing techniques to provide relevant coverage offerings by location for a high-profile partner, which was then integrated into all future versions of the platform.

 

Where is the best place for your company to gather the feedback needed to capture the voice of the customer?

At Sure, we collect direct and indirect customer feedback to ensure we capture the voice of the customer at multiple points throughout the customer journey. Direct feedback is gathered from in-person and virtual meetings, online surveys and one-on-one communication between individual team members and clients. This data is used to enhance our existing product roadmap and identify common themes, such as multiple requests for the same feature, enabling us to prioritize feature releases. 

We also leverage business analytics tools to gather indirect feedback. By analyzing client interactions with our technology, we see what areas are most intuitive, and learn where improvements need to be made. 

 

How do you synthesize this data in order to capture deeper insights into your customers’ behaviors and preferences?

Who, what and when we ask for customer feedback plays a critical role in our ability to capture insights that go beyond surface-level comments. It requires that we ask the right person, the right question, at the right time. As part of understanding VoC, we have to make the effort to understand the customer, how they use our products and the best time to capture their undivided attention.

Business analytics tools are incredibly valuable when it comes to gathering real-time feedback without taking time away from our clients’ workday. By tracking engagement and interactions in our platform, we better understand the usability level of existing features, areas where users are struggling and areas where the platform drives efficiency—all in real time. 

We also keep a pulse on customer satisfaction and Net Promoter Sccore (NPS). These in-platform surveys enable us to measure customer satisfaction with our products, how loyal a particular client is to our brand and how likely they are to recommend our company to others. One of the most valuable ways to dive deeper into customer feedback is to take the time to match user data from the platform with survey data. Is direct client feedback consistent with user interactions in the platform? If yes, then we have clear direction. If no, then we need to identify why there are discrepancies and the best plan of action to address concerns.

We collect direct and indirect customer feedback to capture the VoC at multiple points throughout the customer journey.”

 

How do you leverage VoC to improve the different stages of the customer journey or to inform your product/marketing/CS strategies?  

Our product team applies new learnings derived from VoC in real time throughout the customer journey — from discovery to platform launch. We hold multiple workshops and sketch sessions to fully understand the desired outcome — not only for our partners, but their consumers as well. The product team builds interactive prototypes to prove hypotheses and provide ample opportunities for feedback, then refactors workflows to accommodate updates. Setting milestones throughout the customer journey is key to gathering, and acting on, client feedback.

A great example of incorporating real-time feedback and using it to improve future products is the inclusion of geofencing techniques to provide relevant coverage offerings by location. A high-profile partner wanted to include this as a part of their core technology. It proved to be so valuable that our product team integrated it into all future platform configurations. Incorporating VoC into our existing and future products is a true differentiator for Sure.

 

Mike Sanders
Director of Customer Success

To capture the most accurate VoC, 3PL Central’s Director of Customer Success Mike Sanders said it is important to gather customer feedback from multiple channels. Along with surveys and Net Promoter Scores, the CSM team checks in directly with customers for anecdotal evidence. Feedback is shared across the warehouse management system provider’s various departments to better guide product roadmaps and create robust customer profiles. 

 

Where is the best place for your company to gather the feedback needed to capture the voice of the customer?

It is important to look both wide and deep when collecting customer feedback. It is tempting to favor one source over others, when in fact you need multiple sources to have a nuanced understanding of the customer experience.  

Tools such as NPS and customer surveys are useful to identify trends and patterns within your customer base. We use these tools to look for consensus or discord over a large cross-section of our customers. 

As a complement to the customer sentiment data we gather, we have several mechanisms to gather anecdotal feedback as well. Our CSM team conducts regular health-checks, our product managers interact with beta participants to guide roadmaps and our leadership team is accessible and interested in our customers’ feedback. In addition, we have a customer advisory board hand-picked for their ability to provide insightful feedback.  

It is just as important to learn from mistakes as it is to understand how to repeat successes.”  

 

How do you synthesize this data in order to capture deeper insights into your customers’ behaviors and preferences? 

Half the battle is capturing data at a more granular level, and the other half is breaking down data silos to provide actionable information to the stakeholders who drive your business.  

Ideally, all our sources would integrate seamlessly, but that is not always the case. It is important not to let these limitations stifle your analysis. Sometimes an old-fashioned export and VLOOKUP across multiple data sources can reveal new insights. 

It is equally important to engage directly with customers who can give insightful feedback. When releasing product updates, we implement our customer discovery programs with five to seven key customer and user data points from all perspectives to triangulate on key functionality and data that meets the core needs. Our product ideas program incorporates submissions from anyone in our customer base and uses a community voting process to validate and elevate ideas.

 

How do you leverage VoC to improve the different stages of the customer journey or to inform your product/marketing/CS strategies?

This question brings our onboarding customer journey to mind. Feedback loops between marketing, sales, product and customer-facing departments are essential to ensure we are in lockstep with our customers. We are constantly looking to refine our processes to disseminate feedback to better guide our roadmaps and calibrate our ideal customer profile. Both the market and our product evolve, so this is a continually moving target.  

We have recurring meetings to analyze both our successes and failures in the sales and onboarding processes, and also measure the effectiveness of the changes we make. We leverage customer feedback to prioritize feature requests and product enhancements. It is just as important to learn from mistakes as it is to understand how to repeat successes.  

 

Managing Partner – Strategy Lead
Uwe Gutschow

MediaCom’s Head of Strategy Uwe Gutschow broke down how both explicit and implicit VoCs play critical roles in shaping the their clients’ brand strategies. Social media analysis and customer surveys explain how customers behave, while EEG technology tracks why they make those choices. That information helps MediaCom strategize how their clients should engage with their audiences for the most meaningful connection.

 

Where is the best place for your company to gather the feedback needed to capture the voice of the customer?

Understanding our clients’ consumer and potential consumers are essential to success. We are interested in both the explicit and implicit VoC. Explicit VoC refers to actions taken by a customer: site visits, social media posts, search, purchase, etc. 

However, explicit behavior is merely an indication of the consumer’s implicit “voice.” Around 95 percent of decision making happens in the subconscious. Only 5 percent of our decisions, actions and behaviors are controlled by our rational mind. 

So, we augment explicit data with surveys and studies that help us understand customers’ emotions. We use EEG technology, combined with other physiological indicators such as eye-tracking, galvanic skin responses and heart rate variance. These signals help us understand why consumers subscribe, buy or don’t buy at a subconscious level. 

For example, when consumers are exposed to a stimulus, like a commercial, we track how engaged they are. This helps us determine which visual or auditory stimuli perform better so we can adjust our strategies.

 

How do you synthesize this data in order to capture deeper insights into your customers’ behaviors and preferences? 

We use first-party data to perform regression analysis to determine correlation and custom studies to uncover causation.

We also have our own custom Livepanel data that surveys 350,000 people across 54 markets across category, media and touchpoint behaviors, as well as WPP’s BrandZ study and thousands of GroupM ROI benchmarks. This data is pulled into MediaCom’s proprietary operating platform called The System. 

Accessing these data sets in The System lets us make flexible decisions based on benchmark data and to calibrate them to integrate client-specific data. That information is used to predict growth based upon investment levels, and determines the best media investment strategies to impact our client’s target audience.

 

MediaCom’s Key Data Sets and Tracking Tools

  • Social media analysis tools: Brandwatch, Helixa and CubeYou
  • Explicit behavioral data tools: ComScore, Pathmatics and Nielsen
  • Survey driven tools and platforms: YouGov, Telmar, MRI and Experian Simmons 
  • Consumer trends tools: Gartner Iconoculture, Mintel, Forrester, Warc

 

How do you leverage VoC to improve the different stages of the customer journey or to inform your product/marketing/CS strategies? 

We map consumer motivations, emotions and behaviors along moments of decision making. We use both rational and emotional indicators to help us understand when and where a brand has the best opportunity to connect with consumers and potential customers. 

If we understand the behaviors, but more importantly, the underlying emotions, then we can architect the right opportunities.”

For example, someone getting out of bed might reach for their phone to check on their social media feed. The underlying emotion is a need to feel connected. Another person might reach for their phone to check their email. Here the underlying emotion is anxiety and stress. If we understand the behaviors, but more importantly, the underlying emotions, then we can architect the right opportunities for our client’s brand to be an authentic part of people’s lives. 

 

 

 

Laura Leonard 
Manager, Consumer Insights

Utilizing multiple channels to gather customer feedback helps Manager of Consumer Insights Laura Leonard gauge a fuller profile of the customer database at e-commerce fashion company MeUndies. Feedback is uploaded to a data analytics platform and then integrated into every stage of production. 

 

Where is the best place for your company to gather the feedback needed to capture the voice of the customer?

Over the years, MeUndies has learned there is no single source of truth when it comes to listening to our customers. Looking at just one source limits the voices we hear and does not paint the complete picture. We have a passionate customer base that pushes us to improve and evolve as a company. A major initiative has been consolidating our customer feedback so we can act on those findings. We are constantly collecting feedback: comments across our social channels, on-site product reviews, outreach to our customer service team or ongoing survey responses. 

We have a passionate customer base that pushes us to improve and evolve as a company.”

How do you synthesize this data in order to capture deeper insights into your customers’ behaviors and preferences?

One of our most impactful projects has been our segmentation work. It has provided us with a lens through which we now view all research and customer data. From a technical perspective, signing on with the Qualtrics platform has leveled up our insights capabilities. Through automated surveys and advanced statistical tools, we are able to dig deeper into our customers’ behaviors. We then combine multiple sources into our data visualization tool, Looker. From there, we can marry behavioral information with transactional data to give us the ‘what’ and the ‘why.’

 

How do you leverage VoC to improve the different stages of the customer journey or to inform your product/marketing/CS strategies? 

Customer feedback — including product reviews and customer satisfaction responses — was the impetus for our new line of women’s underwear released last year. From actual product development to naming and positioning, we constantly checked in with our customers to make sure we created a product that women wanted. To ensure that we are accomplishing this goal, we constantly gather suggestions from our social and customer service channels and send quarterly surveys to gauge customer preferences on potential ideas.

 

Dan Tse
Marketing Product Manager - Senior

As a senior marketing product manager at fintech company XCLAIM, Dan Tse said it’s important to gather insight on a customer’s first impression of the product. Feedback sessions are captured via notes, voice-to-text transcripts and video recordings and then shared with stakeholders and other departments. The feedback is used to influence XCLAIM’s product design and surface customer knowledge gaps.

 

Where is the best place for your company to gather the feedback needed to capture the voice of the customer? 

We broadly categorize our VoC into people and product insights. As we’re still in the early stages of our product lifecycle, we have a bias toward direct customer conversations for obtaining people insights. For us, this is the best approach to evaluate peoples’ mindsets, observe their behavioral interactions, hone in on their pain points and dive into their motivations. 

We have a bias toward direct customer conversations for obtaining people insights.”

Given our geographically diverse customer base, we’ve always gathered insights via phone and video calls. Because of COVID-19, we’ve seen a greater adoption of video conferencing in the last few months, which has been a significant value-add to our efforts. At times these feedback sessions have been ad hoc, but more often they are planned with specific usability research and product discovery initiatives in mind. Similarly, for product insights, we’ve leveraged product demos and training sessions as key conversational opportunities to understand the VoC, with a growing tendency toward data-driven measurement. The amount of insight we gain from first impressions is often the most useful. 

 

How do you synthesize this data in order to capture deeper insights into your customers’ behaviors and preferences? 

Data capture is paramount. We store notes, voice-to-text transcripts, video recordings and relevant analytics into a central wiki repository for organization and analysis. Our product team shares insights gained with other stakeholders across the company, and extends open invites to other teams to hear unfiltered customer feedback. We dissect the feedback captured by the user persona and leverage aspects of the jobs-to-be-done framework to normalize the insights gathered, deriving trends that can be made actionable from a business and product standpoint. 

 

How do you leverage VoC to improve the different stages of the customer journey or to inform your product/marketing/CS strategies? 

The VoC provides a key signal for us in terms of market validation and continuous iteration. To implement a new customer registration experience, we deliberately sought customer feedback on the new proposed workflow. Speaking to actual marketplace sellers, we validated our product designs against their real-life pain points. 

Feedback also helped influence our product design and surface customer knowledge gaps and servicing opportunities, which we addressed via marketing and support efforts. Additionally, an unconventional approach we’re institutionalizing is using the VoC to inform our recruiting experience. Feedback from every new team member (and even some candidates that declined) has been leveraged to improve our candidate journey from application responsiveness, how interviews are conducted, presenting job offers and onboarding new employees. 

 

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