This article is inspired by Cate Vanasse’s talk, Bringing the Megaphone to the Voice of the Customer, at our 2022 Customer Marketing Summit, check out the full unedited version here.

Hello there, fellow customer marketers, and anyone who appreciates the art of customer insight! I'm Cate Vanasse, your guide in today's exploration into how to improve your customer listening strategy.

As the Head of Customer Marketing at Cisco, my passion revolves around tapping into our customers' voices. I'm intrigued by their perspectives, unique experiences, and insights that shape our strategies, and guide our teams to make more informed customer-driven decisions.

But one of the issues I’ve come across in my years of experience in the industry is that customer feedback can often get trapped in silos, isolated and underutilized.

It's a frustrating reality that can feel like trying to understand an elephant while blindfolded. You might feel a wall, a tree, or a snake —but you're missing the full picture. That's what feedback trapped in silos can feel like, disjointed, fragmented, and confusing, causing what I like to call ‘proximity blindness’.

I want to explain how you can change that with an optimized customer listening strategy, enabling your business to hear what your customers are saying more clearly and respond to them more effectively. I'll share how to identify your key stakeholders, understand current feedback channels, centralize your insights, and most importantly, close the feedback loop.

I hope you're as excited to dive into these insights as I am to share them with you. Let's jump in and discover the power of truly listening to the voice of your customers! 📣

Step 1: Identify your key stakeholders

In our journey towards better customer listening, the first step is to build a dedicated team – your 'Voice of the Customer' squad.

You should aim to get the backing of your VP of Product Support, Customer Success, and Marketing, to give your initiative strong executive support from the get-go.

However, if you're just starting out and don't have a team like this in place, don't panic! The most important figure you need on your side is an influential executive champion.

This person will drum up enthusiasm for the cause and help set the expectation that this initiative is a priority. It could be your president, CMO, or a leader from your technology, product marketing, or customer success teams.

Once you've found them, it's time to map out other crucial stakeholders across your business. Identify the teams that own a customer feedback channel: this could be the ones managing social listening, customer advisory boards, executive briefing center experiences, or various surveys.

You’ll also want to bring in representatives who might not own a feedback channel but will be significant consumers of the insights – think product marketing, audience marketing, solutions marketing, or your sales teams.