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Demystifying churn: How qualitative research will help you retain more customers | Webinar

Updated on June 23, 2023 26 minutes read

Summary points:

In today’s webinar, Anita Toth, Chief Churn Crusher, talks more about customer interviews. In this comprehensive article, you’ll be able to discover how qualitative research can help you retain more customers.

The main topics discussed in this webinar are:

  • Customer relationship journey
  • Customer interviews
  • Best practices for customer interviews
  • Analyzing qualitative data
  • Q&A

Irina 0:02
Good morning! Good afternoon! My name is Irina Cismas. I am the Head of Marketing here at Custify. I’m going to be your host for the following hour. Thank you all for registering for our webinar session today. I have Anita Toth, here with me, Chief Churn Crusher at her own company. Hello, Anita, thank you for accepting our invitation today! And please tell me what’s the story behind the title Chief Churn Crusher.

Anita 0:38
Definitely a tongue twister for sure. So, churn crashing came from when I was trying to come up with a title that would explain very quickly what I do, but also sort of the outcome that can happen. So I came up with Churn Crusher, and believe me, it took quite a while to come up with that. And then I thought, Churn Crusher sounds a little boring. What can I add to this to kind of spice it up? I put the chief in front of it.

You have a Chief Executive Officer, you have Chief Operating Officers, and I thought for my company, I can be the Chief Churn Crusher and everyone else who works with me is also a churn crusher too. So that’s how I came up with it. Believe it or not, it took six months, even though it’s three little words. It took me six months to come up with that.

Irina 1:37
You don’t want to know how many times I repeated this title. So those are my first lines, so I can’t get them wrong. I want to say thank you for sharing the story. […] I am hosting this webinar from Bucharest. Anita is in Canada. Right?

Anita 2:14
Yeah, just outside Toronto.

Quantitative vs qualitative data

Irina 6:50
The poll is how often do you run qualitative research in your company? So before we kick off this conversation, I want to give it a few more moments. I wanna actually ask you, how do you find this distribution? Why do you think we spend so much time gathering data? And spending the time crunching the quantity of data, collecting multiple data points, from product, from sales, from CRM, but we are actually underestimating the power of qualitative research, the power of speaking to customers? Why don’t we, I don’t know, do a blend-in? And with this question, I’m going to actually pass the mic to you, and we’re going to kick off the conversation.

Anita 8:39
Wonderful! So that’s actually a really huge question. But in a nutshell, this might be a bit surprising. It’s very safe to look at numbers and crunch hard data because you have no context around the numbers you have. You get to make up the story about why the numbers are trending the way they are. But when you do qualitative research, especially if you’re doing customer interviews, they’re actually a conversation like we’re having now. This means that you might hear things that might be difficult to hear. You can ask further questions, which again, can lead you down.

It’s kind of like a double-edged sword. So in some ways, what you’re going to hear can help confirm, maybe suspicions that you have, but on the other side, it might raise things that you never considered before, and sometimes when you get into that territory, it can be kind of shocking or surprising for people, and they may not always know how to handle it and to deal with it. So it’s safe. Looking at quantitative data it’s safe.

You can create a narrative in your head, around why the numbers are trending the way they are. The challenge, of course, is that if you make decisions based on the narrative you have in your head, you might end up making decisions that are heading you in the wrong direction. And that’s really the biggest risk that you’re taking, you want to understand the context of why the numbers are trending the way they are so that you can then make strong decisions. But you have to have that context. The only way that you can get the context is by speaking directly to the customers themselves.

Irina 10:40
Please walk us through what you have prepared for today.

Customer relationship journey

Anita 10:44
Absolutely! Let me just share my screen here. Okay, so what I want to talk about is, first, when you’re looking to reduce churn: Churn is obviously the end result of things that came before. And I came up with this. I call this the customer relationship journey. And essentially, it’s a lot like a dating relationship. And if you look at your customer relationships in this way, it helps to understand why reducing churn can be so challenging. To the far left of the screen, you see dating, lead generation, so this is your marketing, these are your sales processes. This is very tactical, it’s kind of fun, you know, you’re out there, you’re trying different things, will this work? Will this not work? It’s kind of like dating, you’re putting yourself out there, you’re trying to see who’s interested, why are they interested? And then what you’re trying to do is move the relationship along just like when you’re dating, right? You figure out okay, I really like this person, what would be the next step?

Well, the next step, then, is to make that commitment. In a romantic relationship, you are making that commitment as the wedding. For customers, they’re going from prospects now to actual customers, they’re paying money. And one of the big things that happen here is whatever the expectations that were set in that dating and lead generation phase, are going to now play out once the customer has made the commitment, they’ve given you money. They are now in your post-sale process.

This is when the conversion happens, okay, this, this is often very quick, this wedding conversion piece, but it’s the honeymoon, where in your dating room relationship where you start really seeing like, huh, were some of the things that I thought would happen before when we were dating? Are they actually going to happen now that we’re, we’re married, like, what’s going to change? And it’s no different with your customers. They too are wondering what is this going to be like. So this is the onboarding process.

And those seeds of expectations that were planted during the dating, lead generation, phase, and sales. Lead generation, I call it that, but it’s your marketing and sales. This is now where customers are waiting to see if those expectations are going to meet reality. Now, you know as well as I do if the expectations are vastly different from reality, and we’ve all done this with apps we’ve downloaded, with the software we’ve purchased that you go in and you’re expecting, okay, I can do this and this, you’re excited, you’re looking forward to it. And then you get into the software. And if the onboarding process is disjointed, if it’s confusing, if there are big gaps in it, what ends up happening is that we get disappointed. Disappointment, obviously, is a very negative sentiment.

When people are disappointed, they start changing the stories in their heads. So going from excitement, I’m looking forward to this, this software can help me solve my problem. And then they’re in the onboarding phase. And they’re realizing like, oh, wait, this isn’t at all what I expected. And I’m not sure this is gonna work for me. That’s when those seeds of doubt, really start germinating and if there’s a really big gap between the expectations that were set in your marketing and sales side versus now that they’re in onboarding and they’re a customer, that gap is really big, they will churn very quickly.

You’re going to have different levels of churn, right? So one is a very quick churn. So that might be your 30-day churn. And then you’re going to have longer-term churn. So this might be 90 days or 180 days, right up to if you’re selling an annual product, right up to that 12-month mark.

But where it really becomes challenging, and this is where qualitative research can really benefit you, is where those expectations and reality don’t have, you know, such a big gap. Instead of maybe being like this, which is where your high 30-day turn might be, maybe expectations and reality are more like this. And when they’re close together like that the customers are going along, they’re seeing some value in their product, maybe they’re satisfied, which you really don’t want customers who are just satisfied, you want customers who are happy, you really want them to get the most value out of the product.

We’re moving now out of that sort of honeymoon onboarding phase into what I call the marriage, and this is the retention phase. And this is where you’re working really hard to retain those customers.

Is it too soon for customer interviews?

Irina 16:34
I want that before you move to the marriage into their retention. I want to ask you something, do you think it is? Because I remember having a debate internally. And we were asking, isn’t it too soon to go and run customer interviews, at the very beginning? Or should we wait for a while, like 3 months, 6 months? Why do we need to wait longer to run those types of customer interviews? When is the right time to do it?

Anita 17:21
Oh, this is a great question. This is something I was going to address later on but this is the perfect time to talk about it. So what we do with our clients, and we run customer interviews, that’s what our agency does on behalf of our clients. One place where we do it is called win-loss analysis. So this is actually seen in the sales process, why customers converted to become customers, why prospects converted to become customers, and why some prospects didn’t buy.

We run interviews there to have that understanding, and then immediately post sale, we do the same thing to understand about the onboarding process. I know we have a diverse group here, for some people, the onboarding process is very short. But for other companies, it can be several months long. You want to get an understanding of what their expectations coming from sales into being a customer. What are those expectations? What did they find confusing about the onboarding process? Didn’t you know how quickly they find their first time to value or their time to the first value? You want to get a really good understanding of all of that because the more you can fix it on the sales side, and in onboarding, the better actually, you can retain your customers. One of the most challenging things is waiting until it’s been three months, six months, or nine months.

Most of us can’t even remember what we had for dinner yesterday, let alone how we felt and what we thought many months ago. So you actually do want to do some interviews of your customers to get a really deep understanding of what’s the onboarding process for them, in terms of the user experience or the user interface, but bigger than that, what were their expectations, and were those expectations met? That’s really what you want to be asking.

Irina 19:42

Anita 19:45
The reason why you want to be asking around expectations is that we humans make decisions based on emotion first, then we rationalize with numbers, with data, with all of that stuff. But we all make decisions with our emotions. So expectations not meeting reality leads to disappointment, and disappointment along with frustration, anger, those types of emotions, you want to get an understanding of how much are your customers feeling this during their onboarding. And you don’t always want to wait until they’re finished onboarding, particularly if your onboarding is a longer process.

You want to do those interviews and talk to your customers about halfway through onboarding. If it’s longer, again, like many months, or if it’s short, you want to do it immediately after they are finished onboarding. This gives you their emotional journey, right, which in some ways is similar to this customer relationship journey, this is an emotional journey that your customers are taking.

Their decisions will be based first on those emotions, and second of all, they will rationalize, “it’s too expensive, I don’t understand what I’m supposed to do, I’m, you know, this is frustrating, I’m not even going to bother with this.” Those are the kinds of thoughts that then justify the emotions they’re feeling. So really, the only way that you can find out what your customers are feeling is to talk to them. So you do want to run those customer interviews in that onboarding phase,

Irina 21:43
The part that was interesting for me is that you mentioned the win-loss interviews, and you mentioned those are things that are run by sales. And I’m gonna jump in here and ask you: Who do you think should cover those customer interviews? Is it something that falls under customer success? Do we need a dedicated team to run customer interviews? Or do we put it on the CS plate? Because we usually put a lot on the customer success team. Are they run by multiple departments? And another question in regards to this: How do we establish the priorities because we have many stakeholders and only one customer?

Who handles the customer interviews?

Anita 23:02
The best way to address this is that what most companies do is have that siloed approach. And it makes sense when you’re starting out. And you know marketing will do marketing research, sales may or may not do win-loss analysis, product is usually running some sort of customer interviews themselves. And then you have customer success, who’s running customer interviews around onboarding. And then the second place typically used is an exit or churn interview to understand why customers are leaving.

What you really want to do is move into a voice of customer strategy, where the information from these different customer feedback activities is blended together and shared. Because the information that customer success gathered through the onboarding process, as well as either exit interviews or churn interviews is so valuable for marketing teams, and understanding what’s the difference between what your best customers do. How did they think, and how did they see their problem? How did they see your solution is helping them versus your customers that are churning or you’re really poor fit customers?

Customer success has a lot of this information already. It’s less so who’s running the interviews than it is and more about “How is this information being passed on to other departments so that they can better do the work that they’re doing?”. And one of the most obvious places is customer success to marketing. That’s one of the biggest gaps that we see with our clients and just in talking with different companies is when the interviews are run by customer success, the data is not being shared openly with marketing.

Sales sometimes has their own processes, I believe it should also be passed on to sales as well so that you can reduce, you know, customer acquisition costs for marketing, and you can increase the conversion of better fitting customers with sales, thereby increasing customer retention on the post-sale side. So that’s kind of like a long and short of it.

Now, in terms of who should be running the customer interviews, there are two things that really come into play. And I do have this guide, which I will share with you at the end of the webinar here, you can download it, it is not gated in any way, you don’t need to give your email, you can just use it. But the guide really helps you identify if you should be running customer interviews internally, or if you should hire a third party.

Now, if you’re really small, you know, your cash flows are a little tight, often what companies do is run it in-house, which is perfectly fine, and I can take you through the steps on how to do that. I also have a guide, and a webinar that can take you step by step by step on how to build all of that, so that you are getting the right type of data in the questions you ask your customers.

On the other side, companies end up hiring third parties like us, because of something called confirmation bias. In sales, it’s called Happy ears. And that is that we tend to focus on things that make us feel good. Remember, at the beginning of this conversation, you had asked me a question. And I had said that’s part of the reason why we don’t do qualitative research and talk with customers is that we’re a little afraid of what we might hear. And that is the risk of running customer interviews in-house. And it doesn’t matter which department it is, we tend to want to, that’s just how humans are, we tend to want to hear information that makes us feel good.

Running it in-house, that’s the biggest obstacle you have to overcome, and you’ve got to train to be able to get to that point. That was a really big question. But like I said, if you’re small, you’re bootstrapped, your cash flows a little tight, you can run it in-house and decide, you know, with the team’s who, which team is the best to run this and you in your arena. Customer success has a lot of stuff on its plates, and then also running customer interviews on top can be very taxing. So you’ve got to make those decisions on knowledge, is it best to run this in-house? Is it best to hire a third party and that guide that I have has seven questions that you can ask to figure out what is the best route for us?

Irina 28:23
I know that I hijacked your presentation and I will let you get you back. And I’ll do that with one question and it’s somehow tied to customer success and how many things they have on our plate. Do we actually set up a dedicated customer interview session and allocate it as is? Do we consider this being customer interviews, the discussions? Or do we actually need to set up what we call a customer interview, which needs to be separate from our day-to-day interactions with our client?

Anita 29:17
Right, great question. So let me go back up my slides here. And I want to show you this, okay? It’s a little intense. There’s a lot there. I am going to take you through it. But really, I want you to focus on this upper right-hand quadrant. Because the problem with taking those discussions that CSMs have with customers, it’s just from the CSM perspective, how they viewed the conversation.

So it’s really just one perspective. Whereas, you know, in a discussion, there’s two, so you’re missing what the customer or how the customer viewed the interaction. The second thing is that because it’s not standardized, you cannot compare answers. So this customer feedback matrix, the one thing if you notice over here, I hope you can see my little cursor. And what formal means is that these are standardized and pre-written. When you’re doing interviews, you are asking the exact same base questions for every single customer regardless. That allows you to then go back and look for patterns, just like NPS or CSAT are the same exact question that allows you then to take that information and compare it over time.

It’s no different with customer interviews, you have to do it as a separate activity, I would love to see you could just combine it, but again, you’re with customer interviews, you are getting the perspective of the customer. Whereas again, if it’s just seeing the CSMs notes, you’re only getting one perspective. So this is why it’s really important to talk to your customers in a formal way. Really the only thing we have right now is customer interviews. That’s the only way we can do it. Maybe AI and 5-10 years, we’ll come up with something different. Right now, you got to talk to your customers, because there’s no other way to get their perspective.

Anita 32:01
I can just add one more thing before, and this is so important. Looking at that yellow box, in the upper right quadrant, we have interviews, focus groups, customer advisory boards, and short and long surveys. By the way, you do want to use long surveys as well, because these are the questions that go much more in-depth to get that information you’re looking for. And then testimonials, the only one out of that group of 5 that is different are the short and long surveys, and that is because surveys are a monologue.

You just put the questions out there and then whatever answers you get is all that you get everything else on there, the interviews, the focus groups, the customer advisory boards, testimonials, these are dialogues, these are discussions. These are the way to get further into “what are they thinking?”. “How are your customers feeling?” “How do they make decisions on whether they’re going to stay or they’re going to leave?” “How did they determine what’s valuable to that?”

This is all the information that you want to get to help make your processes better, to help them find that value that they’re seeking, and to get a better understanding of just what that value is to them. And you can have discussions, absolutely as you should, as a CSM around those. But it also helps to find these things out formally, so that you can reference them over time. And it’s a repository.

You keep all the data that you collect from your interviews, your focus groups, what comes out of the customer advisory boards, your testimonials, and the long and short surveys too, you’re keeping all of that information in one place to start seeing trends over time. So that’s the biggest question you need to ask yourself is how much of our customer feedback is a dialogue and how much of it is a monologue? And if you’re really heavily relying on a monologue, which is just one way, then you’re truly missing half of the conversation.

Irina 34:32
I usually keep the q&a sessions at the very end, but because we cover different topics before we move to your next slide in discussing best practices in the interviews Collin asked:

At what point do we use the active-formal quadrant on internal customers?

Anita 34:55
When you’re building your customer feedback, and processes, and can be internal customers, too. You want to implement as early as possible, but you are not going to implement all of these at once. So things like a customer advisory board, even internally, that’s something that is usually done later once the company is more mature. But you can start with things like surveys and doing some interviews.

One of the things that we recommend doing, if possible, is listening tours as a way to start before you move into formalized interviews. So listening tours are in that sort of brown box on the bottom right. Listening tours are great to just get in the practice of asking good questions, and then listening for those responses.

And then over time, you formalize it into customer interviews. So listening tours can be done by senior management to get a better understanding of what’s happening internally, and where some areas of opportunity lie. And then you can formalize this across the entire company, with those interviews, and then make those decisions around who should be running those customers or those internal customer interviews. I hope this makes sense – the best place to start is small.

First of all, with that listening, then quickly formalizing it because by going through and doing the listening tour, what it does is it gives you an opportunity to understand just very quickly, what really should we be focusing on before we formalize it. So this could be a series of maybe 10-15, even up to 20 different stakeholders that you would use a listening tour for. And then coming out of that you create those formal customer interview questions, and then put the cadence in on how often you want to be going through and interviewing them.

Irina 37:53
So I think now we move into how we run those customer interviews and the dos and don’ts. Right?

Best practices for running customer interviews

Anita 38:15
So we discussed this already, dialogue versus monologue. Again, you want to invest in structure and standardization, because again, that will help you track overtime just think of your NPS or CSAT. For any of those surveys that you’re currently collecting, you want to use that same principle over time. What are we hearing that’s a little different? And what are we hearing that’s the same coming out of your customer interviews?

So we talked post onboarding, prior to exit, or at cancellation when customers have actually turned this in one of the best places to start if your business is fairly new, and you’re just starting to implement these.

Doing churn interviews can be very illuminating. And then you go back, you create those post onboarding, or midpoint during onboarding if your onboarding process is really long. When you just start trying to figure out something because you don’t understand why it’s happening, this is a great place to use customer interviews, and when you are looking to make a major change that’s going to affect your customers.

If you’re changing your entire billing system, that would be a great time to talk to customers to find out how would this impact them, but it’s even in terms of the processes you might have in customer success around communications, how frequently you’re communicating the value or if you’re doing executive business reviews or quarterly business review. Or is there another way that your customers would prefer to get this information? Customer interviews are a really great way to get an understanding. And then you can change your processes or tweak them, according to what you learn.

Irina 40:21
I wanted to ask, what’s the difference between bullet two and bullet three? Can you go back one slide?

Anita 40:34
With some companies, there’s a cancellation process. So it could either be through a cancellation survey or flow. With other companies, it might be prior to exit. So they give notice, and there might be 30 or 60 days before they actually exit. That’s one time where you can ask for interviews to be done. But churn is when they’ve actually left.

You really want to get them as quickly as possible, after they’ve churned usually within the first week or two, no longer than that, to understand why they left. So that’s the difference between the two, it really just depends on the type of cancellation process that you have. So if you don’t really have a big one, and they can cancel very quickly, and maybe it’s self-cancellation, then you would focus on once customers have churned to reach out to them. So it really just depends on what your cancellation or exit processes are like. Does that make sense?

Irina 41:48
Yeah, it does. Thanks for clarifying!


Anita 41:51
Okay, let me go back. So I know we’re getting short on time. This is a home haircut, and anybody can cut their hair. But when you do something yourself versus going to a professional, the outcomes are very different, as you can see in this photo with this home haircut.

What I’m going to share with you now are the expert tips. These are things that we have learned over hundreds of exit interviews, specifically thousands of interviews across all of those different places we talked about. One of the things that I really want to recommend you do, if you are doing this in-house, is to rehearse.

I recommend two people on your team and these are people who will not be speaking with or don’t have a previous relationship with that specific customer. So that’s why you always want to have two different people on your team.

My guide will show you again, there you just go and you can download it for free, no email is needed to get it. And it will take you step by step on how to do this, what to rehearse and what to practice. The reason being is you are trying to establish trust, at the very beginning of this conversation. And if the customer feels like you’re struggling and it feels like you’re reading a script, it’s going to trigger a sense of mistrust, and they may not open up to you as deeply as they could.

You want to practice dealing with the customer who’s really angry, you want to deal, you want to practice dealing with a customer who just kind of gives you surface-level answers. Those are the types of things that you want to practice and rehearse so that it feels a little more natural. Because when we are more comfortable, the other person who we’re speaking to, they can feel that. So that’s one of the things that you want to avoid doing is not rehearsing. And the second is right here asking “why” questions.

Avoid “why” questions

Why do you do that? Why didn’t you do that? And those types of questions. I think it comes from when we were kids and our parents would ask us those same things. It was very accusatory. And so when people ask “why” it kind of makes us a little defensive. So you want to use “I” – this is my favorite statement to use. “I’m curious about that, Can you tell me more?” and then just leave it there. Can you tell me more about how you felt when this happened? Can you tell me more about whatever it is describing, rather than asking “why”. And so can you tell me more is very open and it’s curious and your customers will sense that, and therefore will open up much more so than if you ask why.

Don’t take the response at face value

Anita 45:21
The third one is taking the response at face value. So again, the value in doing interviews is you can probe deeper. Tell me a little bit more about that. How did that make you feel? I’m curious if that were to happen again, what would you do? What did you do when, you know, this particular feature didn’t work? What was the workaround that you used?

Then they’ll give you an answer. And then you can ask again, will you tell me a little bit more about that? How did that make you feel? What did you think? And you can probe and get that gold that you’re looking for? And then, of course, over-talking.

Avoid over-talking

These are dialogues, you are speaking and asking questions. But a really great salesperson does more listening than they do talking. So you don’t want to over-talk or overshare. One of the biggest mistakes is trying to convince the person that you’re interviewing that their answer is wrong. And that can be really challenging sometimes, which is why you want to go back to number one and you want to rehearse. So you heard something that you know “Oh, wow, that’s a really big pain point. I really didn’t want to hear this”. Rather than trying to convince the customer that their viewpoint is wrong. You accept it. And that can be a real challenge, which again, it’s so important to rehearse.

Irina 47:12
Super, I have one, I have one question. But I’m going to limit it if we have time because I know that you have more to share. I’m going to just listen and stop talking when it comes to this. If we have time. I’m going to use my question.

Analyzing the data

Anita 47:37
This is when you’re analyzing the data you get because the easiest part, believe it or not, is doing the interviews. Then you have to go through an analysis. So I just want to run through this to help you get an understanding. Okay, so we’ve done all these interviews. Now, what do we do? Well, I want you, first of all, you’re going to have really big themes you’re going to look at so this might be around the product, this relates to marketing, this relates to onboarding, this relates, you’re gonna make these really, really big categories. And then afterward, you’re going to look for smaller themes.

So here is an example. That is for Batum. You know, I feel like they’re really full right now. The warehouse is overwhelmed with all their other clients. I know, you’re small, but I don’t feel like sometimes people are paying attention. I would like them to be feeling right. There’s the feeling. I don’t know how you lose five pallets in a warehouse. I’m not really sure what happens. And then the other feeling you can hear is either frustration or anger. So what are the smaller themes that we find here? Well, one is around communication. The second is responsiveness, right? So I understand they’re really full, but I’m not feeling that, even though I’m a small business, whoever this customer is, feels like: “Hey, you’re just not responding to me in a timely way.” And then attention to detail, around losing five pallets in a warehouse.

These are the smaller themes that you will classify your customer interviews with. And then at the end, you can see at the bottom, that you want to rank the smaller themes according to the biggest impact on revenue and churn. All right, that is how you prioritize. So if something you know, you might see it popping up frequently, but it’s not something that is closely tied to the impact on churn or on revenue, then that’s something you can deprioritize even So you might be hearing it quite frequently.

Now, if you hear things that have a big impact on revenue or a big impact on churn, even though they might be less frequent, those go to the top of the priority list. And the reason is that, again, if you go through and as you’re categorizing your interviews, they’re likely tied to stronger emotions, like anger, like frustration, like disappointment. And therefore, the stronger those emotions are, the more likely the customer will find reasons to churn. So whatever they’re going to justify that with. So that’s the best way to prioritize this is again, what is going to have the biggest impact on either revenue or churn.

Anita 50:58
Okay, so what do you do, you’ve gone through, you’ve analyzed, you’ve got some great stories that you’ve pulled out, and you want to get verbatim quotes. One of the things we do, which is really impactful, especially if you’re reporting this back to your board or senior leadership, is use snippets out of the interviews.

I didn’t mention this but record your interviews, and when you’re going back through and listening to them ping them. Or if you’re using it, we always transcribe ours, it’s easier to just sort of scroll through, and then you say, oh, at the minute, you know, 14:53, they talk about this, and you know that this is a hot button issue with either your board or your executive team, pull that snip it out, put it in your presentation, or if you’re at an all-hands meeting, whatever it might be, bring that out and say: “Hey, we heard 10 more of our customers saying this, this is maybe something we should we should look at.”

It’s incredibly helpful to do that. Send an email to your internal stakeholders talking about the interesting things you found, you want to meet with those internal stakeholders to review feedback and decide on those top actionable items. Then you want to keep the assigned actions in an accessible place, so you can track progress.

Now, there’s a whole bunch of things in that guide that we’ll talk about, who has access to data, how to set up the data, and who’s responsible. I’m not going to get into that now, it’s there for you to look at. And then one of the biggest ones is number four, you want to measure the change in sentiment over time. Because again, by having standardized questions, you can compare over time and say, “Hey, we were hearing this before, we’re now hearing this problem coming up, and people aren’t happy about it.” You also want to email your internal stakeholders to get updates on progress.

And then number six is interesting, reconnect with your customer about 60 days after their last date of service. So they’re churned, they’re gone. Because you never know, if they’re working with a competitor, they might not be satisfied and are willing to reconsider coming back and being your customer again. This can be either handed back off to sales or customer success depending on how you do things. Then for your canceled customers, you can create a special offer. If they come back within a specific time frame without incurring implementation fees a second time, this is something that you can offer.

This is only for the churned interviews. Something you can offer them at the end of the conversation because you always want to leave all of your interviews on a high note. So you’re not trying to win them back, you’re not trying to convert them, you’re not trying to change their minds, you simply want to leave the conversation on a high note with the feeling that you respected their time you respected their opinions and that they have the choice, but if they would like to come back, that this is something that you could offer them.

Irina 54:54
Anita, thank you very much for the presentation! I know that we will have four more minutes if we have viewer questions that they want to prompt you.

Q&A Session

Anita 55:05
Right, I’m gonna just put this up quickly. If you go to my website, you can see the round little circle free info, that’s where you’re gonna find these guides. Customer retention tips for every part of the customer journey, as well as that exit interview guide, which you can use for all of your interviews. By the way, it’s not just for exit interviews, this is how we do it with our clients. So you’re getting the pro tips here on how to set all of this up.

Irina 55:38
Super. And I think that somehow answers Caitlin’s question:

Is there a link to your VoC feedback metrics on your site?

Anita 55:49
Yes. You’re gonna have to look through I don’t think I have anything specifically on VoC yet, that should come out in the next little while. But there definitely is customer feedback. There’s another guide there on it called The Ultimate Guide to customer feedback. So you can go through there but the VoC stuff specifically is coming out shortly.

Irina 56:18
Super. One question that came from the audience:

How can you ask for customer feedback without creating expectations that their feedback will be acted upon, especially if you want to know what you can do to improve your product?

Anita 56:36
Ooh, that is a great question! Without creating the expectation, let them know. “Thank you very much for the feedback.” First of all, you always want to thank people, regardless of whether it’s a survey or an interview, always thank them for their time. And then just set the expectation there: We get hundreds of product suggestions or feature requests, and we prioritize them in this way. Let them know that you won’t be able to act on all of them.

This is the most important part that that information will be kept and considered over time. And the reason why that’s most important is that if somebody took the time to mention feature requests they would like, or product feedback, they’re hoping that whatever they suggested will be changed or will be created. So you want to keep that feeling, I don’t want to say “of hope alive”, that’s a little too much, but just that you understand their perspective. Of course, always, always close the loop. So you can let them know three months or six months down the line. “Hey, we considered this and now it’s moved up our priority list, or we’ve created a similar sort of feature.”

You are always looking to close the loop when people give feedback, but with the expectation and very clearly stated that you appreciate that they took the time to send that in, but that you would love with everybody’s feedback to be able to do that, but that you just might not be able to, but you’ll keep them informed. If you do mention that you’re going to keep them informed by closing the loop, then you need to actually execute on that and, and make sure you do close the loop with them.

Irina 58:54
I know that we are running out of time, but I just want to make sure you can have one or two more minutes. We also have Dalia’s question, I think we somehow answered it, but during the conversation, she’s asking:

In B2B settings, whether or not those conversations happened during regular partnership reviews. Is there a reason one needs a client interview performed by a third party?

Anita 59:22
Great question. The third party is really around that confirmation bias or the “happy ears” that we want to hear the good stuff and it’s very difficult to hear the stuff that maybe is more negative. If you have an existing relationship with somebody, especially if it’s a good relationship, they also may not want to tell you the truth about the stuff that’s negative. Just because that’s how humans are, just think for yourself. If one of your friends asks you about their outfit, and you don’t think it looks really good, but they think it looks really good, you might not tell them your full feelings about it.

So this is the reason why a third party coming in who doesn’t have that relationship and doesn’t have that confirmation bias can come in and ask those deeper questions. Because whatever the answer is, they don’t take it personally. And really, that’s the hardest part of all of this, and running it in-house is that it’s hard to hear negative things or difficult things about something that matters a lot to you. And so that’s really why hiring a third party is the best option for this particular type of customer feedback activity.

Irina 1:00:51
Anita, I think this is a wrap. Thank you very much! I know that the next time, I’m going to book a session with you, I’m gonna do it for one hour and a half. We usually talk a lot, I know that we rushed through the topics, and I know that our audience knows where to find us both. So get in touch, connect, and drop us a line, we are actually here and we can help you solve some of the challenges that you have.

Anita 1:01:30
Let me say one thing, I’m on LinkedIn, my second favorite place to hang out online besides Netflix. Find me over on LinkedIn, ask the questions connect with me, and mention that you were on this webinar. Please connect with me over there. Because that’s where we can really engage and I can get a better understanding of how I can help you.

Irina 1:01:55
Super, thank you all! See you in almost one month and a half, two hours in our next webinar session. I’m going to announce it soon. And until then, what can I say enjoy your summer vacations if you didn’t, or enjoy the rest of the summer for the ones who already went on vacation. Bye!

Anita 1:02:17
Goodbye, everyone!

Do you have any topic requests you’d like us to cover in future webinars? Reach out to us and let us know.

Victor Antiu

Written by Victor Antiu

Victor Antiu is the Marketing Manager at Custify. With nearly 10 years experience, his focus is SEO, product marketing, and B2B inbound strategy. When he’s not trying to fix websites and automate processes, he’s traveling and sailing around the world.

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