How CEOs Must Use Voice of the Customer Research to Drive Growth

Jun 14, 2022 | Sales Leadership, Sales Strategy

Just ask your customers, and they will tell you.

You are trying to drive sales growth at your company. You may want incremental growth, or, like most CEOs I work with, you want to drive exponential growth, and your investors depend on it. 

Company leaders set a target and expect the go-to-market team to get after it. Unfortunately, in most cases, more of the same won’t do. But what should be done? Read the latest research? Find out what the competitors are doing? Be creative? 

All of those! But the most important thing (that is most often left out!) is to ask your customers. 

Just Ask

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When was the last time you surveyed your customers to discover what they think about your brand, people, products, and service?

And how can you make good decisions about improving these things without their input?

Some of you are big on Net Promoter Scores – NPS. But are these telling you the whole story or giving you worthwhile information you can act on? Probably NOT!

Fred Reichheld, the creator himself, argues that NPS has been misused, and his recent work is with a new metric to push brands towards the aspirational view of helping customers and enriching their lives called earned growth rate. For more on this, read the HBR article Net Promoter 3.0

We all know the customer journey has changed, but the crazy thing is that most companies haven’t checked in with their customers. 

Side Note: Don’t get caught thinking the customer journey is all pre-purchase. The journey is everything from “Hello, I know you exist and might be able to solve my problem” to “I am your loyal customer, I stay, I continue to buy, and I would make an introduction for you.”

So, when was the last time you checked in with your buyers?

It’s critical to your success. Just ask my friend, Tonya Bjurstrom. 

Whether it’s a glowing review or a raging complaint, customer feedback is crucial to business success. It’s a window into the experiences buyers seek and a way for B2B [companies] to improve their products, services, and processes.” 

With B2B buyers demanding more B2C-style experiences, 66% of marketers say they are struggling to keep pace with the changing buyer needs, according to Gartner.

Benefits of Talking to Your Customers

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Hearing what your customers think and feel about your brand, people, products, and service and acting with that information to improve impacts three critical areas positively. 

  1. Customer Acquisition
  2. Customer Retention
  3. Customer Growth


The impact on acquisition is twofold. First, information about why your customers originally bought from you and why they stayed will help you land new customers. You can use the information you receive to improve your messaging and the customer journey. Second, you can speed up your sales process because loyal customers are willing to make introductions and share how wonderful it is to work with your company, minimizing the need to do cold outreach. 

All CEOs would like to see their team acquiring customers more quickly. So, this should not be ignored. And what salesperson would rather do cold outreach than get a warm introduction. 

Retention & Growth

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Many companies send surveys to customers or ask for their testimonials after the deal has closed. That’s a good idea and if you are getting valuable input, keep doing it. You may obtain information that will help you improve the customer journey up to the point of sale, but that won’t help you retain and grow them. Voice of the customer research needs to be done at several points in the customer journey. 

Doing this research after the customer has been onboarded and using the products or services for some time is proactive and can prevent problems from occurring or fix things before they go on so long that the customer leaves. 

Being proactive is a key to retention and satisfaction, making it easier to expand with that customer. 

CEOs who use voice of the customer research for retention and growth know how important it is to their bottom line.

How To Do Voice of the Customer Research

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Don’t try this yourself.

Remember, this is not sending out a survey to get an NPS or even a survey with open-ended questions. We all know a very small percentage of people will take the time to fill those out, and we know that NPS alone, even when done well, will not give you what you need (go back to the beginning of the article if you missed that.)

Yes, your marketing team can call your customers with questions and try to get useful feedback. Still, most customers won’t say anything negative or make suggestions for improvement under these circumstances. 

We’re talking about having a neutral third party conduct the research after you have worked with them to carefully craft a set of questions to get the information you need. 

When you hire a third party to come in and conduct voice of the customer research and have those important conversations with your customers, it provides a fresh perspective because the customers feel free to tell them what they think. A fresh perspective, not only to the sales organization but to executive leadership and everyone who touches the customer. It can completely shift the direction your Go To Market team takes.  

Have You Heard Your Customer’s Voice?

As we know, it’s crucial that CEOs, as they are guiding their organizations, stay focused on the entire customer journey, not just closing the deal. 

Voice of the customer research and the customer journey go hand in hand. The only real way to understand the journey is to ask the customer who went through the experience.

Voice of the customer research is not just a customer satisfaction survey; it’s a process of gathering information that is crucial to improving the overall customer experience. When our customers have an exceptional experience, it directly impacts both the top and bottom line. 


To learn more about Voice of the Customer research, listen to this episode of Sales Talk for CEOs with Tonya Bjurstrom from Dirby.

Alice Heiman

Alice Heiman

Alice is nationally known for her expertise in elevating sales to increase valuation for companies with a B2B complex sale that have exceptional growth potential. She’s originally, from the widely known Miller Heiman Group. Spending her time strategizing with CEOs and their leadership teams to build the strategies that find new business and grow existing accounts is her passion.  Her clients love her spirit and the way she energizes their sales organization.


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