Unlocking the Voice of the Customer at PTC - Steve Davenport


Tom Firth

Q: Can you give an overview of your Voice of the Customer work at PTC?

I've been at PTC my entire career, always working directly with customers in different roles like support, account management, and corporate escalations. For the last 6 years, I've focused on Voice of the Customer, predominantly designing and analyzing surveys.

When I started in this VoC role, we were just figuring out Net Promoter Score (NPS). We spent a lot of focus on really understanding NPS - what business value it could drive, how to design an effective program, etc. Over the last 12-15 months, we've rebuilt our NPS program from the ground up to be much more aligned on identifying the areas we can better serve our customers, and connecting those with internal business outcomes to achieve the right momentum.

Q: How are you using NPS in a business outcome-focused way?

The biggest thing is being very intentional about the actions we take based on NPS ratings. For promoters (high NPS), we ask if they'd be open to being a marketing reference or what their business priorities are so we can help them achieve their goals, which is a win-win for customers and for us. For detractors (low NPS), we use intelligent branching to surface areas for improvement tied to our risk mitigation process.

Having a logic flow based on the score ensures we get way more value than just looking at a number. It directly plugs into business processes for marketing, sales opportunities, and customer risk management.

Q: What are some other VoC tactics beyond NPS?

NPS is not the be-all-end-all - it's just one component of our VoC strategy. The next big area of focus is transactional, journey-aligned surveys. We're standardizing on the Customer Effort Score (CES) model across key journeys like renewal, onboarding, implementation, etc.

Measuring effort at each of those important touchpoints lets us identify where there is high friction to prioritize experience improvements. Someone focused just on the onboarding journey can drill into that CES data, but we can also zoom out across all journey moments to see which experiences need the most improvement.

The third piece we want to layer in is unsolicited, unstructured feedback. Things like analyzing voice conversations, chat logs, etc. to surface product issues, sentiment drivers, etc. We haven't tapped into that yet but see huge potential once we have the right technology and process in place.

Q: What's been key to getting VoC buy-in and prioritized?

I can't emphasize enough the importance of having an executive champion. It's easy for those of us working with customers daily to get excited about VoC, but you have to be able to directly tie it to business impacts that matter to leadership.

With NPS, we pitched it as a way to enable marketing references, identify opportunities, and mitigate churn risk. Being able to measure and show that ROI is critical for getting VoC prioritized and funded properly.

Q: How do you leverage unstructured data?

I would say that right now, there is plenty of opportunity here, and it’s something we’re exploring. Surveys and structured VoC research can take time to implement and are always constrained to the scope that you give them. Analysis of unstructured data (such as call transcripts, emails, etc) offers some improvement here.

It’s unlikely that this will replace traditional methods though. If you have something very specific that you want to learn, a well structured survey is still one of the best ways to get the information you want. A thoughtful human touch in designing these things is likely to remain valuable.

What did we learn?

Here’s a few key takeaways:

  • Map to company priorities, and don't just ask open-ended questions: Structure your surveys thoughtfully to capture data points that tie to your company's key priorities, metrics, and processes.
  • Balance technology and human touch: While leveraging AI/analysis is invaluable to scale VoC, Steve stressed the need for human relationship and service elements as well, especially for their high-value customers.
  • Connect all the dots: VoC shouldn't live in a silo. The insights need to flow to different functions like product, marketing, customer success to drive end-to-end improvement.

Voice of the customer is a complex, multi-faceted discipline. Steve and the PTC team have done impressive work thoughtfully evolving their approach in a way that creates strategic business impact beyond just tracking some metrics. It provides a great model for other B2B companies, especially those selling really complex solutions.

Stay in touch

Not ready to reach out yet? Sign up for news on our latest product and content updates.