Most product development teams have their standard recurring meetings: weekly business reviews, engineering standups, launch checklist reviews. But the best teams I’ve worked with also obsess over their “voice of the customer” (VOC) meetings.
Unlike a typical business review where teams inspect key metrics they’ve previously chosen to measure, VOC meetings focus on inspecting real customer anecdotes/feedback and discussing opportunities to act on them. While all good teams have quantitative measures in place to track how their users are acting, the best understand all metrics have blind spots, and that customer anecdotes help them identify those.
I’ve seen many attempts at such a meeting (successful and not), and from my experience, compiled a list of tips to make these meetings actually useful for your teams.
1. Review anecdotes, but make them data driven
I’ve been in too many meetings that take the anecdote game to the extreme, where each team is asked to come with one customer anecdote, frequently with no quantification of significance attached. This generates fun discussion about solutions, but rarely amounts to actual shipped solutions. Because people prioritize opportunities they can measure.
Instead, quantify your anecdotes. Either using software like Unwrap.ai or good old manual spreadsheet work, determine what the top patterns in your customer feedback are, and present those to the team. For example, “Since last week, we’ve seen a new pattern of customers stating they can no longer sync their contacts to Salesforce - the issue makes up 3% of last week’s feedback and is the top new negative pattern we found”.
Now you’ve not only used your feedback to identify a new customer pain point, you’ve also quantified it, and can measure week over week how the feedback changes to confirm you’ve solved it. And, whichever team takes on this work can prioritize this 3% of complaints against competing priorities more rigorously.
2. Turn your feedback into action items, with owners
When you find patterns that are worth solving, turn them into actual action items with owners, tracked in whatever system you track other roadmap items (e.g. Jira, ProductBoard). Each subsequent meeting, ask each action item owner to report progress on their items, creating accountability. This increases the odds the ‘good intentions’ you discuss in this meeting actually get shipped. It’s what your customers expect of you.
3. Get your builders involved
VOC meetings are too often attended only by those who manage front-line customer relationships or manage high level roadmaps. Instead, I recommend getting individual “builders” (anyone who can directly make changes to improve your product/experience) involved. I addressed this in another post, but it’s too easy for most builders to get so disconnected from their actual customers, separated by walls of management and dashboards, that they lose empathy for their customer. Builders who feel empathy for their customers ship better products, and there’s no better way to create that than having them sit in the room, read real complaints about their work, and take responsibility for required actions. Likewise, reading positive feedback is one of the greatest motivations.
4. Track and report progress
Lastly, as you ship solutions, track what percent of prior feedback you’ve addressed. Reward teams who are driving their numbers up, and ensure that you are not letting actionable customer issues to just pile up indefinitely.
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