Good customer experience or CX spans across the entire customer journey. To do that, a product leader needs to try to bring together the technology side and the human side. How can product managers utilize CX at every part of product iteration? CX thought leader Lorraine Schumacher shares how CX adds value to product teams and listening to customer voice brings success.
On Success Benchmarks of a CX leader
Lorraine shared that it’s important to think about customer experience (CX) “from cradle to grave”, the whole journey from the moment a customer is investigating for purchase to the purchase itself, and how you sell and go to market.
“As a CX leader, you look at who your customer is. It’s not really the same as marketing and putting them into personas, but it’s the individual customer and how they’re using that product. If you’re a formal product developer, or you do formal PMO type work, or your Six Sigma, you’ve always got go to Gemba, do your ethnographic research. That’s great but even as simple as, if you’re a product manager and you’re trying to build a great product, talk to somebody at the barbecue and get their idea on it. …
One of the companies that I was with had this great idea for a product, and it was for the CEO of the household. In other words, it was for the working mom. I walked into the boardroom, I was the only woman. There were a lot of middle-aged men in there. It was a great idea for a product, a phenomenal product. I said, You know what? The number one thing … you need to do is you need to be able to sync all the calendars for the kids playing soccer for when the husband has meetings. They said, Yeah, yeah, yeah, that’s fine. But look, we can get the sports scores, and the weather reports right on this thing that sits on your kitchen counter.
So what I’m trying to say is you can do all the research in the world, but if you don’t listen to or get in touch with who you’re building your product for, you’re not going to be as successful as you can be. We all go back to playing to win. What is your target market? What are you building your product for? And then that turns into customer experience as, once you’ve built it and designed it with those particular customers in mind, now, you want to make sure that you get their feedback, and you utilize whatever technology or even again, talking to your buddy at the barbecue, to find out how they’re perceiving it and what they would want to do with it, that maybe you never even thought of.”
On Voice of the Customer in Product Development
The voice of the customer and CX become something that’s so pivotal in design, but also in execution during product development. Lorraine shares how product leaders can make sure that they are bringing the continuous voice of the customer into every iteration of product.
“There was a trend probably 10 years ago where people used to do videos of unboxing. These are customers and people that are giving you unsolicited feedback. So when we talk about voice of the customer, there are all kinds of technologies and ways to get to it, but there’s really what a customer says, what a customer actually does, and then how a customer feels. Having been in this business for a very long time, what they tell you solicited in feedback scores or surveys, or if you bring them into just do a face-to-face with it with a group of customers, what they tell you there and what they actually do, don’t always line up.
An example of that: Very early on in my career, our CEO got six nasty letters in one week — We hate XYZ company; I’ve got my home phone, my TV, and my cell phone with you and I’m going to disconnect all of them. So of course, that causes a big, huge craziness. We all dig deep into it, we look at the data, and we start studying the likelihood of that happening. The reality at that point in time was, if they disconnected their cell phone with you, yeah, they probably were going to get rid of everything else. But if all they did was disconnect their hardwired, landline, dial-tone phone, odds are they were going to keep their TV and their cell phone with you.
The point here is, again, what they say what they do, and then how they feel about it. So as product development, or to continue to improve your product and sell more of your product, you want to look at that whole plethora of what’s going on out there. So voice of the customer is you’re actually gaining that feedback solicited, right when you do a feedback session, or you send out a survey, or they send you a letter. Then there’s unsolicited: doing the TikToks, talking on social media, chatting with each other, using WhatsApp. Then there’s actually how they feel about it and getting down into what’s truly important to them.
In previous conversations, I talked about a grocery store chain over in the UK. They had terrible problems with their queues, with their checkouts. The lines were way, way too long. That was an annoyance to the customers, and the customers complained about it. But their true root cause issue was the parking lot. They were losing customers because they didn’t have enough parking, and so people would just bypass their location. You couldn’t find that unless you truly started talking to your customers and got that voice to the customer, because you didn’t know they just weren’t buying from you and you had no idea why.”
On New Technology and the CX Experience
Many companies are making digital transformations as the product space evolves. Some older companies are thinking about the longevity of CX and what that means as their products and tools change. Lorraine explores the change in connection with customers.
“We use the word relationship a lot, especially in CX. Think about your own relationships and miscommunications. That’s a big deal with your spouse or your significant other and your friends. So communication is key. To get to longevity, technology helps. Technology is huge, because it’s near real-time, so it gives you the ability to adjust. Also, a lot of us are drowning in VOC [voice of customer] and customer behavioral data but it’s real-time.
The great thing about real-time is you can be more nimble. Part of a relationship with a customer is to get as much information as possible, be nimble with that information, but communicate back out. One of the biggest things that is a source of angst for customers is if they give you feedback and you do nothing with it.
There’s been this big trend about the closed-loop process, and you have to call customers back. If they call a contact center, and they put on their CSAT score, ‘I rate you a 2’, this was terrible. I’m a detractor. If you’re a detractor to that particular transaction or detractor to that product. And they give you that feedback, and there’s no acknowledgment of it, or there’s no change in the product, then all that effort that you’re putting into improving that customer experience is worthless.”
About the speaker
Products That Count is the original and most influential product acceleration platform in the world. Almost 300,000 product managers globally read, watch, attend and listen to our 3,000+ free blog posts, videos, webinars and podcasts. C/VP-level product executives such as Netflix Product VP, Coinbase CPO, and Box CPO share best practices and raise their profile at our curated product salons, podcast show and mastermind circles. Leading brands such as Autodesk and Capital One join as corporate members to turn their product teams into a competitive advantage. Hyper-growth companies like Amplitude have generated 10X ROI from marketing partnerships. Learn more at productsthatcount.com
About the host
I am the Director of Brand & Sustainability for Transfix, a leading transportation solutions provider, combining tech and a best-in-class carrier network to reshape the future of freight. I am also a host for Product Talk helping bring product leaders together to answer the question: "What makes a great product?"