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Forums and surveys are essential to understand the positives and problems your customers face. However, customer conversations cannot be manufactured. If you can’t go to your clientele you have to get creative. Sometimes, in the case of today’s guest, the voice of the customer program is a powerful way to connect.
On today’s episode of Retention Talk, I speak with Danielle Rojas, Manager of Customer Experience at LinkedIn. At the time of our interview, she was the Director of Customer Experience & Growth at GoSite. In the episode we talk about nailing the core principles of the voice of customer programs, getting a dedicated dunning strategy, and the two kinds of customer loyalty to focus on.
Key points discussed in the episode
We're looking at the entire ecosystem and trying to think about where we can get that insight and where do we not have that insight.” – Danielle Rojas
Nailing the core principles of the Voice of the Customer Program
Every single interaction with your customer is either a value-add or a value-diminishing interaction. A VOC (voice of the customer program) survey can very easily be a value-diminishing action. Asking for a lot of information takes time. But it doesn’t have to be a survey per se. Get creative. Look at or evaluate through a community forum, review sites, and more.
If you don’t have a dedicated dunning strategy, get one
Having a sole, individual responsible for reaching out to customers about failed payments is better than nothing. However, adding some sophistication to the process isn’t as difficult as you might think. Sending automated emails or implementing win-back campaigns can go a long way… okay we may be a bit biased… we wrote the book on churn—literally.
The two kinds of customer loyalty to focus on: behavioral and attitudinal
Behavioral loyalty involves customers who are renewing month over month or year over year (depending on your payment term). Attitudinal loyalty is about willingness to trust the business, willingness to forgive bad experiences, and willingness to refer a friend. Evaluating this loyalty against net revenue and logo retention reveals discrepancies in order to close the gap.
A dunning strategy doesn’t have to be complex but it should be comprehensive. Luckily, we’re pretty experienced in this field and have plenty of advice to share.
Nevertheless, dunning is a process you have to work at. A great dunning process is the best way of finding out why a customer account is not sending you payments. It requires direct, sometimes repeated, communication with your customers and can sometimes turn into a long and unwieldy process. But a dunning process done right saves you potential customers, recovers lost revenue, and drives down delinquent churn.
You don’t need a lot to optimize your customer success strategy, but it should be a company-wide focus. The relationship with your customer is at the core of recurring revenue. Cementing these relationships has an immensely positive impact on your bottom line.
1. Make your intentions & next steps CRYSTAL clear
It’s not unusual to get spam emails or false dunning letters from companies asking you for money. When composing a dunning email, choose your language and tone of voice carefully, and make sure the following are clearly expressed:
- Who you are—a friendly agent from a trusted company
- The payment type (credit card, automatic account withdrawal, etc.) and suggestions as to why the payment may have been declined
- The amount and nature of the outstanding balance. For instance, “You’re on the $10 per month plan and owe $40 for the last four months.”
- When you will process the next payment
- A link back to your payment page and any further payment instructions
2. Get your subject line right
Subject lines are what get customers to open an email. Make sure it is professional and clear, so they know it’s important.
An example of a good subject line is, “Action required: Payment failure due to [EXPIRED CARD].” It’s direct and to the point. You can tailor your approach to your company’s general persona without sacrificing directness. For instance, Spotify, which takes a more informal approach to customer communication, will give a dunning email a subject line that reads, “Oh no, your payment failed.”
Don’t use poorly automated subject lines that look like spam (“Account NO#X9999903 Payment Query .x”), poorly contextualized subject lines (“Payment Due Now”), or subject lines that take an altogether too chummy approach (“There’s a Payment We’d Like to Talk to You About”). Bad dunning emails are not only likely to get your customers reaching for the spam button—they risk damaging the trust your customer has in you.
3. Be empathetic
Now that you have your customer’s attention, be empathetic. View them as a customer, not as a debtor, and approach the correspondence with the same tact and friendliness you would when trying to make any other garden-variety sale. Remember, the dunning process is an opportunity to recover lost revenue.
And the recoverable revenue is not restricted to the last payment that didn’t go through. Make a point of telling the customer that you want to make sure they keep enjoying your services into the future as well.
What you must absolutely not do is blame your customer. Chances are your customer is completely unaware of the following:
- that their payment hasn't gone through
- why their payment wouldn’t have gone through
Explain why their payment wasn’t made with as many details as you can provide. Your customer is smart—they'll sniff out your assumptions about them if you signal your doubt in their good intentions to pay what they owe. Doing so will reduce the likelihood of actually receiving that payment (if for no other reason, a customer being harassed by their service provider is highly likely to churn).
4. Keep it concise
No one likes to receive long, depressing emails about making payments. A couple of paragraphs, and sound formatting choices can get the job done in a dunning email.
If you’re including technical information about payment plans or aspects of service, use lists and bullet points to make the information digestible. Make sure that any key metrics or other points (e.g., deadline dates, amounts due) are in bold text to draw the reader’s eye.
And remember, most people read their emails on a mobile device—format accordingly!
5. Know when to stop
The verb “to dun” literally means to harry someone with unwanted information. Perhaps that’s the source of its bad reputation, come to think of it.
While you should see it as an opportunity to recover lost revenue, there’s still a point where you have to let go and accept that a customer may be lost. If you have sent four emails over the last payment period with no response, it might be a good time to stop and terminate the service you’re providing to that customer.
one of the things that we've started to do as a business is we started to build our policies, our contracts around different payment terms and so for certain business owners. We provide annual deals upfront where they pay everything upfront.
They have the tool for the year for other businesses. We give them a semiannual option or a quarterly or monthly. And so we try to give different options that make sense for the business owner and where they are in their own operational maturity so that they can react and respond based on the value that they're getting in
real time. Welcome to retention talk. I'm Neil Dhesi, and we're talking to the best minds in the world of product and customer success to bring you actionable strategies on reducing churn and boosting retention. This week, we're talking to Danielle Rojas.
Danielle is currently working on customer experience at LinkedIn, but at the time of the interview, she was director of customer experience and growth at Go Site. In the episode, we go over a number of tactics, including nailing the core principles of the voice of the customer program.
Next, if you don't have a dedicated Dunning strategy, get one and last pay close attention to the two kinds of customer loyalty you should focus on. Danielle, thank you so much for being here today. I am really excited to learn more about go side and some of the things your team specifically in customer experience is doing to
boost retention. I'd love to just quickly learn a little bit more about how did you end up here? What's your role and what are you working on these days that goes right? Yeah, I'll try to give the short bios.
So my background is actually in research science, which is a little bit of an unconventional background for customer success. And when I made the switch into customer success, I was joining a company that served the life science industry, and I was so compelled and intrigued by the concept of software as a service, just putting customers in control
and giving customers more authority and more of a voice when it came to the types of services and products that they they were engaging with. And so I found that incredibly compelling. And then as I continued down that path of customer success and implementation services and really everything post-sale client facing, I became more and more enthralled with
customer experience as a practice because customer experience really appealed to the two sides of my, my personality and what I valued, both from a research perspective. It's really the intersection of where data and relationship building meet, and so that always really enthralled and intrigued me.
And as I continued through my career, I started leaning more towards customer experience and strategy and voice of the customer. And that's what brought me to go sight, where we have a fairly unique opportunity to to serve in a B2B space where we're business to business.
But we're serving small, local service based businesses, and so are our businesses that we serve, operate in a little bit of a B2C capacity as well. So we're constantly tweaking the formula for customer success and trying to find the right balance for our customers and and for our business.
Cool. No, I love it. And I think that distinction you made between customer success and experience is a big one, right? Because it's like, on one hand, you need to be really good at building relationships with customers to actually uncover those insights.
But at the same time, to do it at scale, you need to be data driven, right? So tell me more. I'd love to learn more about, you know, you mentioned at the onset, you guys are very intentional about the types of services you send.
I'd love to unpack that a little bit more because something I've noticed when sort of thinking about retention holistically is there's sort of two buckets of of sort of churn or, you know, retention issues. one is way more strategic if that's what you want to call it, either issues with the product or the persona or underlying issues
of the product that I think doing research and service might actually help. So like, I love to learn more about what that what that actually looks like. It goes. Yeah, absolutely. So with a voice of the customer program, one thing that I always like to encourage people, especially if they're starting out with a new program or re
revamping an existing program is to first evaluate what it is that you intend to do with the insight. Right. It's it's not enough just to ask the questions. And so I go through a series of three questions that I ask myself where I have my team ask before we deploy any surveys, whether it's a one off survey
for specific research that we're doing or an ongoing recurring voice of the customer program. And the first question is, can we find this information on our own? I can't tell you how much it pains me as a consumer or as a practitioner to see a survey where it said, Tell us your name.
If I'm your customer, you should know my name, you should know my business name. If I'm a business, you should know my name. You should know the basics. So the first question you should ask yourself is, can we find this answer on our own?
And if you're in an enterprise space, then you should do some research, right? Can you can you research the company? Can you research the individual that you're reaching out to and find out some of those insights on your own through either data that's freely available or data that you're capturing as a business?
The second question that I ask is when we get the answer to this question, this specific question can we take action off of it? The question is vague, or if it's double barreled, or if there's anything that might be a little bit ambiguous about it, we need to rework the question so that it's as actionable as possible
for us, whether it's quantitative or qualitative. And so that really takes some time. A really well-designed survey should take you some time to to design and to to create before you send it out. And the third question I ask is, are we prepared to return to the customer, return to the person who's responding to the survey and
give them our reasoning and rationale for a go no go decision? If we're asking people for their feedback, we need to be prepared to in exchange for that information and for their most valuable resource, their time. We should be prepared to return back with insight and say, Hey, thank you.
We appreciate and we acknowledge the fact that you are in the. Investing in us and our development. And here's what we decided to move forward with, and yes, we're going to move forward with your your suggestion or no, we're not and doing that on a one to one basis while also aggregating the data at scale and evaluating
how it fits in with your business strategy is really critical. And you know, I always I always tell my team that every single interaction that we have with our customer is either a value add or a value diminishing interaction and velocity.
Surveys can very easily be a value diminishing action. Because we're asking for a lot of information, we're asking for time. And unless we close the loop with the customer, it doesn't become a value add activity. And so it's really important that we think about that and we're mindful of that whenever we're sending surveys out to to our
clients. That makes a ton of sense. And I love the bit on like, don't ask customers things that you probably already know, right? Especially right now. I should know, right? Like and I do it like I remember, like, I'll open up a survey on my mobile phone.
I'm on the go and like, you know what? I'm going to like, try to do my part and help. And it's the first time questions are things they should know. So that's frustrating. So I got to ask them.
So like clearly a ton of thought put into and very intentional about how you ask these surveys, or even if if a survey is appropriate to begin with, what's one of the biggest things? Maybe in the last six months you guys have learned from one of these that you have implemented, you know, and sort of seen the
outcome of that one way or another. Yeah, that's a that's a great question. So when I first joined Go Site, one of the first things that I did was evaluate the voice of the customer program that was existing.
And I think this is a common mistake for a lot of companies where we we can launch a survey and let the data start to aggregate because we need we need a lot of data in order for it to be statistically significant.
And so as that data is aggregating, we're not closing the loop with our customers. We're not following up with them and saying thank you or Hey, we appreciate you taking this time. And so we're starting to build up this really great data resource and pool.
But if it's going into a black hole, so to speak, where nobody is monitoring and evaluating it and analyzing it, then it quickly loses its value, especially with a company where we're moving really quickly, rolling out releases really quickly.
The business we were six months ago is very different than the business we are today. And so just to circle back and answer your question, one of the things that we've done recently is we've looked at our entire voice, the customer program holistically, and we've overlaid that with our customer journey.
And we've evaluated it both from a C X perspective on on the wholesale side, as well as looking at every marketing outreach, every sales outreach. We're looking at every part of the customer journey and we're evaluating both lifecycle stages that we want to have a pulse on from a voice, the customer perspective, as well as key moments
of truth that our customers or milestones that they achieve by interacting with us or our tool. And so we're actually in the process of revamping our entire voice of the customer program. With all of that in consideration and thinking through presale all the way to a renewal date or a churn event.
What should we be looking at and at what point in the customer journey should we be asking these questions? And where else can we be pulling data so that we're getting insight without asking for it? So this is the other thing that I like to share is that relationship building.
It doesn't always have to equal a survey program, right? There could be other things that you look at or evaluate to really understand the voice of your customers and whether it's a community forum, whether it's review sites, whatever it might be, there's lots of different input.
And so we're looking at the entire ecosystem and trying to think about where can we get that insight and where? Where do we not have that insight? And that's where we're deploying surveys. Got it. No, that that makes a ton of sense.
And I'm sure like the level of insight you guys get is also probably so actionable because you're asking things that you guys are truly ready to like. Do things about, right? Exactly. I know. I love it. Want to pivot a little bit and ask a little bit about some of the mechanical things that we see affect retention
. And I think especially being in customer experience, I'm interested to hear your take on on the right way to handle some of these things. So the first up, like what's the cancelation process look like for go side? Someone wants to cancel their account.
What happens? Well, you know, this is an interesting question, because it's actually evolved fairly recently. In the past, we had really sophisticated playbooks, and we would try to work really hard with the customers to reprove value and resell the tool and get them back in.
What we're at as a company right now is that and again, this goes back to the type of industry that we serve. We serve small service based businesses. These are people who are on the go. They have limited time and we want to show that we value their time.
And so we try to just like any, any business, we try to mitigate the need for those requests as much as possible upfront, but once. We do encounter them. We try to make that that experience as seamless as possible.
And so we of course, try to to deploy a play where we say, Hey, can we get you on a call with with a professional here and help you reengage or implement certain elements of the tool? But if we can't, and if it's not the right fit for our customers, we always want to do what's right by
them. And so we make it pretty easy for them to to cancel out at that point. Although one of the things that we we've started to do as a business is we started to build our our policies, our contracts around different payment terms.
And so for certain business owners, we provide annual deals upfront where they pay everything upfront and they're just they have the tool for the year for other businesses. We give them a semiannual option or a quarterly or monthly.
And so we try to give different options that make sense for the business owner and where they are in their own operational maturity so that they can react and respond based on the value that they're getting in real time.
Got it! I love like optimizing for term is one of those things that's so underrated. But but clearly I'm sure like given that you guys have so many options, you guys are seeing it be a valuable offering, right?
Because it benefits you guys getting that sort of cash up front, but also provides the customer with a way to sort of lock in a longer term rate. And, you know, it's a win win on both sides. Yeah, right.
Exactly. Yeah, because if if they're ready to fully commit, we want to give them the the benefit of a discounted rate. And if they're still trying to figure it out and get their own feet off the ground with their business, we don't want to hold them to something that they're they're not confident or secure in making that
commitment. Somewhat related. What happens when a customer's payment fails? Because this is something that I've seen a lot of companies have like a horrific experience around, but given that you guys are also offering a payment solution like curious to hear your take on this?
Yeah. So we definitely have a quite a process with this. To be completely candid, this is outside of the realm of my scope of responsibility. So we have a dedicated team who manages that specific use case. So we, of course, we do our best to try to contact customers and and give them opportunities to get different payment
. But you know, when decline cards happen and when that when that is an inevitable part of the business, we go through the standard course of action of trying to reach out and follow up and and we take it from there.
But it's not within my specific wheelhouse. So I can't give you a ton of insight into that, but it makes makes total sense, really. Just it sounds like it's somewhat of a manual process, but you guys are trying to do your part and nobody's getting in front of the issue and bringing them back.
Right, exactly. And then the last thing mechanical thing I'm curious about is when do you see your role as owning the user experience and is a once or done being a customer? Are you doing things after they turn to bring them back through, you know, win back campaigns or things like, you know, how do you see the
scope of that, you know, in the context of your work? That's a great question, and it's a really interesting one because I think that for my team in particular were so laser focused right now, we're really in a building stage within this growth team.
And so we haven't started to broaden the scope of our awareness beyond churn events just yet. Now with that being said, there's of course, things that we always want to be monitoring that, you know, review sites being one of those and brand reputation online and making sure that we're managing those, those accounts and services.
And so they're there are certainly times when the team will jump in and work within a win back capacity. But really, our customer success team, our support team, those folks who are on the frontline facing the customers, for those those one off interactions when needed, they're really the people who are at the spearheading those efforts.
And right now, we don't have massive win back strategy within the customer experience and growth team in particular. But I know that our sales team is obviously really focused on that and our customer success teams as well. Sure, that makes sense.
one thing that I'm super curious about is like, how do you measure success with something like customer experience? What metrics do you look at on, I don't know, week to week, month to month basis because I'm sure it's not as simple as just what is our monthly retention rate, right?
It's more nuanced than that. So like, tell me more about how you think about measuring success. Yes, I love this question. So when I think about success for a customer experience team and four for the team that I'm managing in particular, we think about it through two lenses, right?
So everything that we're trying to do is driving loyalty and loyalty in our terms is revenue retention, retention in general. And so logo retention as well. And so there's two main types of of loyalty. There's behavioral loyalty. And then there's attitudinal loyalty, and behavioral loyalty is driven by price and convenience.
And that's where. If you're a commodity, if you're in the commodity space, it's really easy for competitors to outbid you to be more convenient to whatever whatever they can do to make it easy for your customers to switch and move away.
They're doing. And so that behavioral loyalty, when you see it, when you see customers who are renewing month over month or year over year, depending on your payment terms. That's really interesting. But if you don't understand why they're renewing, if you don't understand if it's just because you happen to have the least expensive solution or the switching
costs are too high, if somebody else comes around with a less expensive option or a really easy way to switch over that revenue is gone. And so the other type of loyalty, attitudinal loyalty, and this is where we start to look at them.
Measuring what matters to my team is driven the behaviors that we see as an output of attitudinal loyalty. Our willingness to trust the business, willingness to forgive a bad experience renewals themselves right, retention and renewals. That's a sign of attitudinal loyalty and then the the willingness to refer a friend.
And so measuring those four distinct loyalty behaviors is a really critical part of our team and what we focus on. And so we're we're always looking at different ways and different perspectives for us to evaluate that in particular.
So we've broken this down by both activity level metrics that our team is focused on, things that we do to manage our own productivity in our own engagement with within our internal teams, moving up to engagement level metrics where we're evaluating how are our customers engaging with the content that we're creating, the services that we offer, the
tool that we have. And then beyond those engagement metrics, then we're looking for those behavior and success criteria as well. And that's when we tie it back to net revenue retention. So to make that a little bit more materialize, if we were to take a velocity program again and look at NPS, for example, we would segment our
customers by promoter passive detractor. We would evaluate certain data about what tools they're using, and then we would also evaluate that against our net revenue retention and net logo retention as well and see where we have the biggest discrepancies and start to close the gap.
Got it. No, that's that's great. I mean, even just for us, like I feel like NPS become such a hot take. I don't know if that's the right way to put it, but in the industry, right on on is a meaningful is it not?
But, but I think to your point, like it's look, it's one of four or five things we look at and hopefully track over time. Like tactically, are you guys just asking customers this once a quarter or something like that?
Like, what does this actually look like for, for actually getting this data? Historically, we had it at once a quarter cadence, but we're likely going to peel that back a little bit and move more towards like a bi annual cadence.
I like to play with it a little bit. Obviously, you don't want to don't want to change the playbook too often because you want to have that historical benchmark data that you can you can compare to. But my take on it is to ask as infrequently as you possibly can while still getting the most rich data that
you need to know. That makes that makes a ton of sense. Just to just around us out here, they all know we're coming up on time. Like, what are you most proud of looking back at the VC program you've implemented here, but just in general on the customer stories, I'm sure you've heard like, what are you really
proud of having built and learned, you know, in the context of our conversation today? Yeah, I think for me, what I am most proud of throughout my career is any time that I can, you know, it's it's that multiplier effect, right?
So I got into this space and into this industry because I have a lot of empathy and compassion for our customers. I love the fact that we serve small business owners. I come from a family of small business owners, so it's close to my heart.
And the work that we do is obviously really connected to who I am as a person. But what really excites me and energized me and makes me incredibly proud is as I evangelize voice of customer and customer experience across the team, seeing other teams, other individuals really step up and start to take that practice and bring it
to the either the front line engagements that they have with the customers or bring it to other businesses that they work with and help empower them. That, to me is is really where I feel most proud. Awesome. Well, that's great to see that more teams are.
It's sort of like, you know, rallying behind the cause. And and I'm sure that's really been rewarding for you to see that theme be picked up across organizations. So this is this is great that I had a ton of fun learning more about, you know what, you guys are up to.
I go side and I really, really appreciate the time for you sharing and sharing some wisdom with us today. Thank you for having me, Neal. Yeah, absolutely. A massive thank you for Danielle for talking to us this week per customer experience, expertize has been immensely valuable.
To recap, we talked about nailing the core principles of the voice of the customer program. Every single interaction with your customer is either a value add or a value diminishing interaction. If you see, survey can easily be a value diminishing action, but it doesn't have to be a lengthy survey.
Get creative, looked at community forums, review sites and more next. If you don't have a dedicated dining strategy, get one. Having a sole individual responsible for reaching out to customers about failed payments is better than nothing. However, adding some sophistication to the process isn't as difficult as you might think.
If you want to learn more, check out Proveedores e-book. That's all about churn and a link in the show notes below. And let's make sure you focus on the two kinds of customer loyalty. Behavioral and attitudinal behavioral loyalty involves customers who are renewing month over month or year over year, right depending on their payment terms, attitude and
a little tease about willingness to trust a business, willingness to forgive a bad experience or even referring a friend. Understand both, and you'll boost customer loyalty significantly. Thanks for listening to this week's episode of Retention Talk. Don't forget to subscribe at retention tocome, and if you want to help spread the word, tag me on Twitter and you'll
decide. 23. And let's dish on today's episode. Please give us a five star review on the podcast platform of your choice and let your friends know as well. If you know a great guest. Hit me up and Neil UNPROFOR welcome.
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