Embracing a Culture of Customer Feedback — It Starts With Leadership

Lauren Culbertson

Lauren Culbertson

Co-founder and CEO, LoopVOC

Voice of Customer Leadership

Receiving feedback is hard. Embracing it as a means for organizational growth and change is even harder.

The problem isn’t that we don’t want to improve or give our customers the products and experiences they want. It’s that we’ve created a culture that encourages defensiveness rather than humility.

We’re often put in situations where we must prove that what we are doing is right rather than uncover what we’re doing that is wrong.

And the only way to truly fix this has to come from leadership. Because it’s a culture problem.

This is what makes it so difficult to build successful Voice of Customer programs. Unless there is leadership saying “this is the culture we want to set — one where we prioritize feedback, look for all of the ways we’re falling short, and embrace this data as a reason for change” then it’s going to be an uphill battle.

The pain of embracing feedback organizationally is being felt in a real way right now. B2B SaaS teams all over are trying to come up with solutions to protect revenue and prevent churn, and are diving into customer feedback for direction.

But even if we’ve decided to use customer feedback to drive strategy, we’re stuck navigating internal politics of how best to call out problems without burning bridges. We spend more energy working to build trust internally so that we’re seen as partners rather than working on truly fixing problems.

Asking for feedback and acting on feedback are two very different things. – Michael Fossleman, CS Operations Manager, Root Insurance Company

We’ve seen situations where teams have had a hunch that there is an issue with a touchpoint in the customer experience journey. Instead of being able to address this head-on, teams had been tiptoeing around the problem for months, until they uncovered customer feedback data that made it indisputable.

The amount of time that is wasted trying to navigate the red tape makes it almost impossible to truly embrace customer feedback in a meaningful way. As long as we’re more concerned with protecting our turf rather than protecting the customer’s experience, we’re going to be fighting uphill battles to do right by our customers.

Leadership has to be all-in.

True cross-functional collaboration has to be encouraged by leadership. Teams have to be given the space to dedicate time and resources to working cross-functionally and there must be shared goals to ensure that it’s prioritized.

Transparency is key to Voice of Customer programs being successful long term.

The best way to break down silos to make this happen is for leadership to ensure that customer feedback — across channels — is democratized. No one team owns customer feedback. If every team is accountable for the customer experience, then customer feedback is for everyone, not just one department. This is why customer feedback has to be brought together, in one place. 

For teams to feel invested in this they must understand the role that they play in acting on customer feedback.

The best companies make this part of their DNA. They’re not just propping up one-time initiatives to gather customer feedback. Customer feedback is their north star—and leadership constantly reminds teams to stay focused and diligent in the pursuit for a customer-obsessed culture.

Jeff Sheehan, Customer Experience Consultant, recommends establishing an “Improvement Council of CX staff, Managers and Department Heads to assess VoC Program feedback and decide on what to act on in a prioritized list of projects.”

Creating a regular cadence for teams to strategize around VOC is a major step in embracing feedback organizationally. Everyone has a seat at the table and all teams understand how feedback will be used and measured. 

Once organizations feel truly empowered by customer feedback, we’ll start seeing Voice of Customer programs fueling impactful and measurable results across the industry.


Want to align your teams around the customer feedback issues impacting new revenue and retention? Get your FREE Voice of Customer Reporting Template.



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