Amplifying the Voice of the Customer Across the Organization: An Interview with Colin Crowley from Maven Clinic


Ibby Syed

Q: You've held CX leadership roles across a diverse range of industries, from fintech and food tech to healthcare and software. What common threads have you observed in terms of what it takes to deliver great customer experiences, regardless of the specific vertical?

Colin: While there are certainly nuances to serving customers in different industries, I think there are some universal principles that transcend those boundaries. One of the most interesting shifts I've observed is the growing convergence between B2B and B2C engagement strategies, particularly in the SMB space.

Historically, B2B customer success was very much focused on building long-term relationships, while B2C customer support was more transactional and KPI-driven. But increasingly, we're seeing B2C organizations adopt elements of that customer success mindset - really looking to nurture lasting customer relationships beyond just solving momentary issues. 

At the same time, B2B teams are borrowing from the B2C playbook in terms of being more metrics-driven and responsive. So there's this interesting cross-pollination happening, which I think reflects a broader recognition that whether you're serving businesses or consumers, it's all about creating value and fostering loyalty.

The other trend that's reshaping CX across industries is the blurring of lines between support, success, and marketing. More and more, we're seeing the emergence of this holistic "customer engagement" function that encompasses everything from troubleshooting and onboarding to advocacy, community-building, and lifecycle communications. It's about taking a more unified, end-to-end view of the customer journey and ensuring that every touchpoint is adding value.

Q: One of the perennial challenges in CX is getting the rest of the organization to act on customer feedback. What strategies have you found effective for amplifying the voice of the customer and driving cross-functional alignment around customer needs?

Colin: This is such a critical issue, and one that I've seen trip up countless organizations. You can be capturing all the customer feedback in the world, but if you're not able to effectively synthesize those insights and advocate for the required changes, it's all for naught.

In my experience, there are a few key ingredients to making this work. First and foremost, you need to be able to translate anecdotal feedback into hard data. It's not enough to just surface individual customer complaints - you have to be able to demonstrate the scope and severity of the issues through quantitative measures.

That's where tools like AI-powered text analytics can be incredibly valuable (see Cotera!). Being able to automatically scan your support conversations, identify common themes and sentiments, and visualize those trends over time - that's the type of evidence that gets the attention of leadership and cross-functional stakeholders.

The dashboards and reports you produce also need to be highly accessible and actionable for your internal partners. A product manager or UX designer should be able to go in, search for mentions of a particular feature or pain point, and immediately pull up relevant examples to inform their work. The easier you make it for folks to self-serve and leverage customer insights, the more embedded those insights will become in their day-to-day decision-making.

Another tactic I've seen work well is to find ways to make the customer feedback more visceral and human. It's one thing to read a support ticket or survey response, but it's much more powerful to actually see and hear a customer talking through their experience.

That could mean investing in tools to collect video testimonials or having a Slack channel where employees can listen in on support calls. It's about creating more direct lines of empathy between your customers and your internal teams.

Ultimately though, the most important factor is having clear ownership and accountability around the voice of the customer at the organizational level. In an ideal world, you have a dedicated CX insights function that's responsible for aggregating feedback from all your listening posts, packaging it for different audiences, and driving regular cross-functional conversations to identify opportunities for improvement.

That's not to say this group is single-handedly responsible for making all the changes - that still requires commitment from your product, engineering, marketing teams and so on. But having a centralized, neutral arbiter that's constantly beating the drum of customer-centricity can go a long way in creating alignment and shared purpose.

Q: Looking ahead, what are some of the biggest opportunities you see for CX leaders to drive business value and customer loyalty in the coming years?

Colin: I think we're at an incredibly exciting inflection point for the CX profession. The pandemic, for all its challenges, really thrust customer experience into the spotlight as a core strategic priority and differentiator. Companies are recognizing that in a world of ever-rising consumer expectations and ever-eroding switching costs, delivering exceptional, emotionally resonant experiences at every touchpoint is table stakes.

So for CX leaders, I think there's a huge opportunity to be more proactive and prescriptive in shaping organizational strategy around the customer. It's not just about fixing what's broken or responding to issues as they arise - it's about deeply understanding customer needs, behaviors, and preferences and then bringing those insights to bear on everything from product development and go-to-market planning to employee training and culture-building.

That requires an increasingly data-driven and multidisciplinary approach to CX. We need to be leveraging advanced analytics, but also weaving in qualitative, ethnographic, and experiential insights to paint a vivid picture of our customers' realities. And we need to be collaborating closely not just with our usual suspects in product and marketing, but with HR, finance, operations, and other key functions to ensure the customer is represented in every major decision.

I also think there's untapped potential around using CX as a growth engine, particularly in the realm of customer marketing. The future of loyalty isn't just about preventing churn, but about turning your customers into passionate advocates and growth partners.

So many companies are sitting on incredibly enthusiastic customers who would love to be more involved, whether it's participating in a research panel, writing a review, or even co-creating new offerings. But they're not being engaged in the right ways. CX teams have a real opportunity to be the orchestrators of those advocate relationships and programs.

At the end of the day though, the north star remains the same as it always has: creating experiences that customers love, remember, and want to tell their friends about. The strategies and technologies will continue to evolve, but the fundamentals of listening to your customers, honoring their humanity, and going above and beyond to serve them - that's what will always set the great brands apart.

And for those of us in CX, I honestly can't think of a more fulfilling pursuit than that. To be the voice and the champion of the customer, and in doing so, help our organizations become the best possible versions of themselves - that's pretty special. Hard work, no doubt, but incredibly worthwhile.

In Conclusion

Our conversation with Colin underscored the vital role that CX leaders play in driving customer-centric transformation and business growth. A few key themes emerged:

  • The lines between B2B and B2C engagement strategies are increasingly blurring, as are the boundaries between CX, customer success, and customer marketing - necessitating a more holistic approach to customer engagement.
  • Translating customer feedback into actionable insights requires a combination of quantitative data, qualitative depth, and cross-functional accessibility and collaboration.
  • Establishing clear ownership and accountability for customer experience at the organizational level is critical to ensuring that the voice of the customer is consistently represented in strategic decision-making.
  • The future of CX lies in not just responding to customer needs, but proactively shaping experiences that drive loyalty, advocacy, and growth - and CX leaders have a pivotal role to play in making that vision a reality.

As Maven Clinic continues on its mission to make high-quality healthcare more accessible for women and families, Colin's passion for customer advocacy and his deep expertise in building cross-functional alignment will undoubtedly be key assets. His journey offers a powerful case study in the evolving mandate of the CX leader in an age of sky-high consumer expectations and constant disruption.

The key takeaway? Put your customers at the center of everything you do, and rally your entire organization around that north star. Harness the power of data and storytelling to create unshakeable empathy for your customers' experiences. Collaborate far and wide to turn those insights into meaningful action. And never lose sight of the profound privilege and responsibility of being the customer's ultimate champion. That's the art and science of CX excellence in a nutshell.

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