Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Can You Hear Me Now? It's Your Customer Calling

Does anyone still breathing believe that we can succeed without customers? I didn’t think so. If people don’t want what we’ve got to sell, we’re toast. So, there should be no argument that customer satisfaction and loyalty are goals we should be eagerly pursuing since the pundits tell us that it costs five times as much to acquire a new customer as it does to keep one.

I know, some of you are saying satisfaction and loyalty, yes, “but not at all costs” and “not the wrong customers for our business”. Exactly. So how are you managing those customer issues for your benefit and theirs?

Hello? I’m Out Here and Here and Here…: There are so many channels from which to collect customer feedback and each one potentially provides data gold. However, what is interesting may not be useful. Before buying, jettisoning or adding onto your business intelligence platform, a game plan is imperative.

Customer orientation is a critical part of developing a business strategy. It’s hard to describe competitive advantage and competencies unless we’ve defined how we will deliver products and how we will serve our customers. Business intelligence needs to be aligned with both strategy and customer needs. A company’s market research used to be private; now it is open and available on every social media outlet and search engine just by mining customer comments. We shouldn't ignore the qualitative nature of data and fail to integrate that into other customer data sets as it is necessary for ongoing strategy development

See Your Company Through Your Customers’ Eyes: It’s disappointing to deal with companies that seem to have no idea how many customer touchpoints they have and infuriating that they are not integrated. It’s inexcusable that frontline employees are neither selected nor trained for a service job. If you invite some of your co-workers into a room with a big white board and start mapping customer interactions, it is a mind-boggling exercise. Or, just read your customer comments online.

Create a Single View of a Customer: I’ve said it before: customers do not care about our silos. It’s not their job to sort out which department is responsible for resolving a problem. A fragmented approach rather than Outside-In customer experience design means that your employees have a perspective of your customer based on their job roles not on customer expectations.

It’s Called Voice of the Customer: I design a lot of feedback and research surveys and I am sent a few as well. It takes me less than 30 seconds to decide whether or not I’ll complete a survey depending on how it’s constructed. Questions should be properly worded and of an appropriate length; be free of bias; be actionable and be linked to the customer experience as well as the company’s metrics and Key Performance Objectives.

I’ve been on a data and analytics soap box for a while and there is no doubt that through collection of behavioral, rational and experiential data, we are doing a better job of knowing who buys from us and why. To understand what we didn’t sell and why requires tapping into customer emotions. Maybe someone will develop an App for that. Until then, we have to collect, aggregate and understand qualitative data to hear what are customers are feeling as well as saying.

To paraphrase a line from my newest favorite film, The King’s Speech, your customers have a voice. Yes, they do.

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