Let the Voice of the Customer Be Heard: An Interview with Jeff Ernst

Mary Rockman
Posted by Mary Rockman on April 19, 2022

When a customer sees an advertisement, whether it’s an online ad or a commercial on TV, they know they’re being pitched to. They know the company behind the pitch is going to emphasize the highs and ignore the lows.

But when they can turn to someone who’s actually done business with that company and get a straight answer about their experience? That’s effective, and that’s why word of mouth is so powerful. 

The voice of the customer is the loudest in all of marketing, but how can a business actively work with those customers to amplify that voice in an effective way that benefits both parties?

That’s one of the points self-described serial entrepreneur Jeff Ernst will discuss when he speaks at Experience Inbound on June 6 and 7, 2022. Jeff has years of experience in the software industry, specifically with implementing or overseeing B2B customer feedback and loyalty programs. He’s done a great deal of research and refined ideas regarding customer engagement.

His current endeavor is as CEO of SlapFive, providing the first end-to-end customer marketing software platform for B2B companies.

In other words, Jeff Ernst is knee-deep in the customer engagement world, making him a perfect speaker for Wisconsin’s Premier Marketing & Sales conference!

I sat down with Jeff ahead of Experience Inbound to learn what attendees can expect during his presentation, and how businesses can benefit with what his research has uncovered.

Watch the full interview above and read below for a synopsis!

Empathy for the Customer

When talking about his passion for his work, Jeff discussed his appreciation and empathy for customers — appreciation he gained while working on developing programs that aim to make successful customers. Such empathy and focus on successful customers can ultimately translate to business success as well.

“There’s no more important or significant competitive advantage that you can build than to really build happy, successful customers that are then going to be turned into advocates for you.”

Jeff points out that if you look at the companies who score highest and put the most effort into customer satisfaction, you may find correlations with some of the best financial results over the long term. 

“The most important thing you can do is have very effective programs into place that are going to make your customers successful, turn them into advocates, and then engage them in that two-way exchange of value so that they feel like they’re part of your team and helping you grow.”

The Problem with Traditional Forms of Customer Proof

Chances are good that you’ve seen a customer testimonial — maybe one that was slickly produced, like an on-set interview with a customer happily speaking about their experiences with Company ABC. Why might that not be the most ideal customer proof?

Traditional testimonials may not cut it because often they are nothing more than platitudes, where someone may speak a “happy quote” for the camera. That might not always land the way a business hopes it will, and it may not be an authentic reflection of the voice of the customer.

“Buyers want to know things like, ‘Why did your other customers decide they couldn’t live another day with the way they were doing things before,’ and ‘What was their experience like when they were ripping out their old solution and replacing it with yours,’ and ‘What went well and what went wrong,’ and ‘What would they do differently if they were to start over?’” Jeff explains.

Video testimonials can sometimes come across as scripted and robotic, he continues. They can be perceived as another commercial, and the customer will see through it as an advertisement. “(Buyers) want to hear the honest tone of voice.”

It’s okay to not shy away from the negatives that occurred during a customer’s engagement.

“Everybody knows there’s going to be challenges or pitfalls. Nobody ever expects everything’s going to go perfectly. So, why try to pretend it will? But if you put that out there and acknowledge that maybe there was a challenge or pitfall, but your company was there to help the customer through that, and the customer talks about that story, how ‘the vendor was right at my side, we got it done, and we’re moving fast forward,’ then people are going to be ‘Wow, this is great, this company’s being very transparent,’ they’re going to trust everything that that person says.”

Companies that are “worth their salt” will be there for their customers and help them through challenges that are encountered, and it’s good to let customers know that.


Creating an Optimized Voice of the Customer Program (Part I)

Improving Your Voice of the Customer Program (Part II) 

Considerations When Generating Content in the Customer’s Voice

So, how do you go about presenting customer-focused content in the customer’s voice that helps project the message you want to send?

Authenticity is key. It’s much more important than production value, and in today’s COVID-19 world, where people Zoom in remotely for work, TV appearances, and more, people have gotten used to seeing other people in a natural environment. There isn’t the same need for high production value as there used to be.

Another consideration when creating content in the customer’s voice relates to what’s happening globally, with war, politics, and the like, where there’s a bigger trust gap. Now, it’s more important than ever for companies to bridge that gap in trust. This is where authenticity and transparency are crucial.

RELATED: How to Use Customer Service in Your Marketing Plan

Learn More from Jeff Ernst

Jeff will be speaking about this topic in greater detail at Experience Inbound 2022, taking place in Milwaukee on June 6 and Green Bay on June 7.

During the conference, Jeff will share results of research he’s conducted as well as eight ways to get customers to talk and how to overcome objections. Watch the video above for a sneak peek at some insights and what to expect during his speech! 

Experience Inbound is Wisconsin’s premier marketing and sales conference, where marketing, sales, and leadership teams align to grow better and learn the tools needed to improve lead generation and customer engagement. Click the link or graphic below to view the complete agenda and buy your tickets today!

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Topics: Weidert Group Events, Inbound Service

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