Editor’s note: This post is adapted from a presentation by Leela Srinivasan at the 2019 SaaStr conference. Leela is the CMO of SurveyMonkey and has extensive B2B marketing experience with top companies such as LinkedIn, OpenTable, and Lever.
Today’s marketers are losing their credibility, a fact that sobering stats from SurveyMonkey help drive home. According to one of their studies, for example, 63 percent of customers think that marketers are selling them things they don’t need. Meanwhile, in stark contrast to this confronting reality is the fact 82 percent of buyers find customer testimonials to be more trustworthy than the companies they’re about.
What this suggests is that customer feedback is one of the most valuable tools you can leverage to help grow your business. And while there’s no shortage of resources out there that will point to how you can best gather that feedback, in this one, we’ll focus on how you can use it to deliver value.
1. Use feedback to inform your biggest messaging decisions
Companies should take customer feedback into account when they’re developing their messaging, positioning, and brand names, rather than simply guessing at how customers will react. To do so, begin by auditing your existing messaging and drafting the key concepts that you want to test. Then go out and survey the people who buy your type of software.
Admittedly, this takes a bit of effort. But it’s worth doing because it will result in messaging that resonates more with your audiences, proves more effective in the marketing funnel, and that drives more growth.
2. Think of customer feedback as the ultimate in data enrichment
If you want to know what your customers are actually thinking, map out their entire customer journey and identify the places where they are most vulnerable. Try inserting “listening posts” at moments of biggest risk — short surveys that you can use to gather valuable feedback. The act of taking customer feedback and pairing it up at the point of customer contact is worth its weight in gold.
Once you know what they’re thinking, you can change how you talk to them, how you interact with them, and the solutions you might normally offer. Any insights can help marketers become more relevant at that first point of contact.
3. Leverage customer feedback to delight and surprise
We talk about B2B audiences, but really what we should be focused on is B2H — business to human — audiences. After all, you’re selling to another human being. If you can extract nuggets of personalization, you’ll be on point as customers make their way through your organization.
Listen for opportunities to build life-long fans and monitor your channels. For example, one company that sent ice cream in response to a customer’s joking request earned themselves a devoted champion and a great deal of Twitter exposure — all for a mere $25 investment. The point is that marketers can make great inroads when they take the time to extract small bits of information about their customers and go out of their way to demonstrate that they’re listening and that they care.
4. Generate high-value, attention-grabbing content
Content marketers know that they face a lot of competition and that it can be hard to make their message stand out. One way to get around this is to gather customer feedback and turn it into content. Netflix is a great case in point. The company created a Valentine’s Day survey on how many people “cheat” on their partner by watching shows ahead of them. The results got huge press coverage because it was humorous, interesting, and shed new light on the world of Netflix customers.
By zeroing in on the intersection of what’s unique about your organization and what’s relevant and interesting in the market, you can create great content and make magic happen.
5. Inform pricing and packaging decisions with real feedback
Too many marketers decide on their packaging or price point by simply sticking a finger in the air and seeing which way the wind is blowing. They get excited about product development, but wait until just before the new product is released to worry about pricing and packaging. The reality is that companies should really be thinking about pricing way before then, and use customer feedback to help make their decisions.
If you want to know what your customers are willing to pay, just ask. Surveying existing and prospective customers about their thoughts on the price of a new product, or how it’s packaged, will help you make the right decisions.
6. Create a virtuous customer acquisition cycle
If you want to gather a group of people who will give you great feedback, help enrich your products and services, and become your champions, then establishing customer advisory councils is the way to go. Companies that have done this find that members share feedback, champion the organization on and offline, refer other customers, and help drive continuous improvement.
It might sound simple, but listening to customers’ feedback and acting on it will create an army of your organization’s staunchest advocates.
7. Create devoted internal fans too
When it comes to retaining staff, the way a company treats its customers can make a real difference. Among employees who perceive their company’s empathy for their customers to be high, 82 percent say they will still be in their job over the next two years. When it’s low, only 66 percent see themselves sticking around. This tells us that employees need to feel like they belong to something that matters.
Given that the cost of re-recruiting is estimated to be a third of an individual’s salary, when it comes to being profitable, one of the best things you can do is ensure that your employees stay put.
8. Listen and act to maximize profits
By partnering with customers, listening to them, and harnessing their feedback, you’ll drive your product portfolio, build an army of dedicated fans and make more money. To learn more, you can check out Leela’s full talk below.