How do you become customer-obsessed?
Matt Mochary has the answer.
Matt Mochary is CEO Coach to top companies including Coinbase, Brex, Opendoor, and Clearbit. His book "The Great CEO Within" is regarded as the go-to guide for startup founders and CEOs, providing them with the systems and frameworks necessary for scaling their companies.
The central theme of the book is the importance of customer obsession, and Matt offers tactical advice on how CEOs can (and should) cultivate this mindset within their teams.
Summarized, the three key recommendations are: Actively listen to your customers, enable engineering to process feedback from sales and customer success teams, and rally around the customers.
We’ll dive deep into the recommendations and understand how you can use Grain to build the necessary systems and habits to develop customer empathy and align cross-functional teams around real customer needs.
Alright, let’s get started.
To understand your customers’ problems, the first step is to truly listen. By listening, we mean, paying attention to what your customers say and understanding what they mean—without getting distracted by your notes.
“If you actively listen to your customers’ pain, they will trust you to decide which solution will best erase that pain. If you do not listen to your customers’ pain, then they will do the thinking and make demands about what the solutions should be, no matter how impractical.”
- Matt Mochary
It’s not as simple as it sounds. For many companies, insights and feedback captured from customer calls bridge the gap between customer problems and product solutions.
When Zapier, a company known for its customer-centric approach, faced the same problem, they chose to opt for Grain.
Recording using Grain allows Zapier’s sales team to focus on the conversation, and revisit and extract insights from the call on their own time.
“It [Grain recording] allows me to focus on the calls, focus on the customers, and focus on what they need”
- Steeve Vakeeswaran, Former Head of Sales and Expansion at Zapier.
Emily Arciprete, Sr. UX researcher, prefers to use Grain to record her customer interviews—capturing the video along with what was exactly said.
“As much as I love to write down lots of notes during a call, my goal as a researcher is to be highly engaging and attentive. Grain allows me to do that.”
- Emily Arciprete, UX Researcher
With Grain added to your customer calls, you can actively listen to your customers without having to take detailed notes or screenshots, or worrying about missing important information. This enables you to develop a thorough understanding of your customers’ problems and needs.
Matt emphasizes that the engineering team—which typically sits farthest away from the customers—needs to hear customer feedback to build a successful product.
“It is particularly important to instill this mindset in your engineering department, because the engineering department tends to sit the farthest away from the customer and only hears about the customer in abstract terms.”
- Matt Mochary
But it’s not straightforward for salespeople to collaborate with product and engineering teams. When a sales team wants to share feedback with the product team, they tend to share their conclusion (suggestion/solution), not the actual data (i.e., the voice of the customer).
Put another way, salespeople are more likely to say, “can we build this feature because customers want it”, rather than “here’s the exact problem our customers have, how can we fix it”.
Without the actual data, it’s hard for product teams to assess, prioritize, and build the necessary solutions.
Endgame built a workflow for the customer-facing team to collaborate with the engineering team effectively. Here’s how.
The team created a dedicated public Slack channel “#grain-highlights” and a Notion database where customer-facing teams share feedback and insights from their calls with the rest of the company—using Grain.
The engineering team keeps up with the channel, listens to customer feedback, and creates pull requests without watching hour-long recordings or joining any meetings. First-hand exposure to a customer's perspective empowers them to solve problems and act on ideas from their users.
“Grain highlights become part of how we process customer feedback and develop our product”
- Ty Kauffman, Customer Imagineering, Endgame
Adam Seitzman, Head of Sales and GTM at Copilot, took a different approach. Rather than using Slack, he clips and sends customer feedback directly to Productboard.
Instead of sharing his written notes, Adam sends highlight clips—capturing the actual voice of the customer—from Grain. Hearing it directly from the customer means there's no room for bias or context loss.
The final recommendation from Matt focuses on the importance of permeating the idea of customer obsession to every part of the company.
“Teach this methodology to everyone in your company”
- Matt Mochary
Ideally, the simpler your workflow, the easier it is to align everyone around the customer needs.
For instance, Adam from Copilot built a habit of presenting customer feedback (through Grain) during all-hands meetings. “It’s fun to create these highlights and show them off to the rest of the team. Grain gives everyone a great way of hearing what customers say”, adds Adam.
On the other hand, Parabol used a Slack channel “#GOLD” to share positive feedback from customer conversations and help everyone understand what customers love about their product.
This process provides everyone at Parabol with useful context directly from the customer about issues they are running into using Parabol, new product suggestions, what they like, and what might frustrate them.
Shareil Nariman, Head of Customer Success at Arrows, pulls up Grain and plays highlights from his customer calls for the entire team to watch—during “show and tell” meetings every week.
It’s becoming crucial for CEOs to align cross-functional teams around real customer needs. Matt’s recommendations—paired with the right tools and systems—can help you build a team that’s obsessed with customers and what they need. Question: how do you help your team become customer obsessed?