How Voice of the Customer Can Change Your Product Development

Maria Petrova
Photo: Marcus Landström

A Voice of the Customer (VoC) program provides a framework for collecting, compiling, and analyzing customer feedback. In this session, Maria Petrova, Head of Product at Supermetrics, showed us how they work with VoC and the results.

Customer-Centric Product Development

Why is it so essential to bring user feedback into product development? Well, as Maria explained, you need a process for learning what it is that our customers need and are willing to pay for. By constantly listening to the Customer’s Voice, you have a better chance of building things that are relevant to the customer. 

But there is also a different answer to the same question of why VoC matters. And that answer is all about cost and business perspective. You need to find out if you’re wrong as early as possible. You need to fail as quickly as possible to be able to pivot and adapt.

To ensure you’re building products and features that are relevant, it’s essential to bring customers into every stage of the product development process. You can’t just start with doing customer research at the beginning of the process and then build your product. That’s how things were done in back 2000. Today, product development is a process of constant validation and iteration. 

The Supermetrics Approach to VoC and Product Development

Maria proposed that there should be five different steps in the product development process and that at each stage, customer feedback is needed: 

  1. Validation of the problem – does this problem exist?
  2. Validation of the solution – are customers interested in your solution and willing to pay for it?
  3. Validation of the prototype – will this way of solving it work, and is it better than how competitors are solving this problem? 
  4. Validation of the design – is this the right design solution?
  5. Validation of the product – final validation before going to market. 

With a customer base of almost ten thousand customers, Supermetrics have had to automate and build a scalable process for getting access to VoC data. They do this by collecting and compiling data from a variety of sources:

  • Customer review 
  • Support forum posts
  • Feedback calls with the product team
  • Notes from CS calls
  • Notes from Sales Calls
  • Aggregated support data
  • NPS survey

With this many sources of information, an interim layer is needed to make sense of all the data. This layer at Supermetrics is called the User Insights database.

When starting, this “database” may just be a Google sheet or a Slack channel where you dump all customer feedback. But as you grow, needs evolve. Today Supermetrics uses a software called Productboard that allows for aggregating input from many sources and provides a metadata layer for better understanding. 

From the database, ideas are distilled, and those ideas start the whole process of validation mentioned above. 

Things to Keep in Mind When Collecting User Feedback

  • Remember that a lot of feedback is biased because people are more prone to leave reviews and feedback when they’re not happy than when they’re satisfied.
  • Before you act on feedback and start building new features, consider whether this is a unique need or something that applies to more of your customers.
  • Be aware that people tend to resist change, so whenever a product update requires users to break old habits, this will result in negative feedback.
  • It’s always tempting, but ever promise prospects or customers what date they will have access to new features that they’re asking for.
  • If you have a strong customer community, it can be easier to recruit people to interview.
  • Try to involve all relevant personas – not only those signing the bill but also the end-users. 
  • Don’t be scared of ugly prototypes! The less “finished” it seems, the easier for customers to comment honestly. 
  • If possible, present customers with more than one solution so they can compare different options and choose their favorite.