This isn’t a post about survey best practices, the questions we ask, or the scale we use. There are thousands of good articles about all that already. What this post is about, however, is the philosophy that both drives our listening strategy and informs our Customer Experience processes within the Salesforce Success Cloud.

There are plenty of opportunities for our customers to provide feedback to us. Our Customer Success Group is responsible for guiding and supporting customers through the successful adoption of their Salesforce solutions.  As you can imagine, this leads to a high volume and broad range of customer interactions — from strategic consulting to one-to-one coaching sessions to technical support (and much more). To ensure the experience for giving feedback is positive, easy, and — most importantly — consistent every step of the way, we looked to our feedback philosophy to inform the development of a listening strategy with impact.

Here are the three key principles underpinning that listening strategy:


Principle #1: Feedback isn’t a yardstick for our own performance. It’s an opportunity to prove value to our customers.


Have you ever started a survey, only to suspect all you’re doing is fueling a company’s internal metrics? You can consider that a customer experience fail. We believe that every feedback-based interaction is an opportunity to prove value to our customers. This belief inspired us to take survey follow-up to the next level. Instead of approaching follow up as simply a “closing the loop” tactic with our customers — to share what we learned and how we’re taking action their feedback — we decided to take a more direct approach in our Customer Success Survey. As part of the survey, we offer customers the opportunity to engage directly with a Salesforce Specialist for additional guidance, whether it’s to help with a specific issue or simply to elaborate on the feedback provided. We field hundreds of these requests each month — anything from answering quick questions to pointing customers in the direction of programs and resources that align to their business needs. This ensures we’re always in constant communication with our customers, always giving them valuable opportunities to get help at every point along the course of their relationship with us .


Principle #2: Providing feedback should feel like a conversation with a caring colleague, not an interrogation by a robot.


If I asked you, “How was your day?” and you respond with “Terrible,” my ears would immediately perk up. My next question would obviously be, “What happened?” We take a similar approach to the questions we ask customers in a feedback interaction. They’re designed with branching logic, which allows us to “tune” both our responses and follow-up questions to the sentiment a customer is expressing. Doing so creates a more genuine exchange with a customer, one that feels better than a cold, static, and automated series of questions and answers.


Principle #3: The timing and cadence of inviting customers to give feedback should be driven by their needs, not our own.


A customer-centric feedback experience takes time to design and build. To streamline this process, many organizations have made it a common practice to create an established cadence (i.e. once a quarter, once a year) for surveying customers about their experiences. The only problem here is that soliciting feedback based on a timed cadence like this is oftentimes focused more on the needs of the organization to measure success and less about assessing the real-time needs and expectations of customers. That’s why we take a slightly different approach at Salesforce. Aware that customer needs will evolve throughout their lifecycle with us, we’ve built and planned our listening architecture to align closely with key milestones along that lifecycle. As a result, our system will automatically trigger invitations for feedback at key milestones — especially at points where we know they may face more challenges around implementation or adoption — asking them relevant questions specific to the activities within those milestones. Sourcing feedback in this more contextually relevant way gives us a greater understanding of customer needs as it relates to the different phases of their relationship with us. This, in turn, helps us to receive much more actionable feedback that then allows us create better and more rewarding experiences for them in the long-term. It's a win for everyone.

So, whether you’re in the process of building a listening strategy or simply optimizing an existing strategy, be sure to consider how your content, cadence, and communications around feedback can continue to evolve in a way that ultimately prioritizes the needs of your customers.