By Alex McDonnell
Client Insight Lead
Frustration. A feeling of being dismissed or disregarded. A sense that customer feedback is just considered “noise.”
That’s some of what I heard from Customer Success Managers (CSMs) at the Gainsight Pulse event in May, when I asked them to reflect on this question:
“Why doesn’t the customer feedback I gather make it onto the product roadmap?”
Pulse is an amazing community of people who want to learn from each other and share best practices. As researchers, we at Eigenworks felt that conducting a live research study onsite at Pulse was a natural way to contribute to the conversation around customer success.
So, I sat down with 13 CSMs, one at a time, at the Eigenworks booth. I placed a mic on the table, pressed “record,” and invited them to share their thoughts.
Before I share what I heard, here’s some context.
- We formulated the question based on where the Pulse conversation is going, because now Product Management is included too.
- We felt this question would resonate. I’ve seen Customer Success bring forward rich, passionate feedback as they advocate on behalf of customers. I’ve also seen how Product — with the best of intentions — finds the feedback hard to use. Or, if they do use it, they find it hard to communicate back and close the loop on how it was incorporated.
We felt sure we had something worth exploring. But we didn’t know what to expect as we put out the call to participate. Would people respond?
The interview time slots filled up faster than we could have imagined. Every single person who booked an interview showed up to talk to me. It was amazing.
Pulse is a busy conference with multiple sessions going on at any one time. Yet people made a point of coming to have this conversation — not just for a few minutes, but for half an hour. I was blown away by the response.
Here’s how the conversations went. I started with this question:
“A customer comes to you and has some constructive, thoughtful feedback for how your product can be improved. What happens next?”
I let the interviewee play out that process, uncovering how it happens in their organization.
Then I asked: “What do you expect of Product Management in this process? What do you think they expect of you?
Mainly, I listened. People told me about their attempts to solve this problem — what works well, what doesn’t. I heard a lot of pent-up frustration. Some people told me, “That was really cathartic.”
At the end of each conversation, people asked: “So what is everybody else doing about this?”
Stay tuned for a webinar hosted by Eigenworks and Gainsight in August. We’ll share ideas for how to fix the black hole between Customer Success and Product Management.
And, we’ll launch Part 2 of the study — yes, I’ll be talking to product managers too. We need to hear both sides of the story.
Certainly, CSMs acknowledge that some requests seem small but would require a big effort by Product. And CSMs want to learn from Product about how they can dig deeper with customers to make the feedback more useful.
The conversation continues! I welcome your thoughts.