Customer Satisfaction surveys should be part of your company’s regimented discipline to stay in touch with evolving customer relations. With respect to customers, Gazelles/Rockefeller Habits coaches like Positioning Systems suggest your business have your top line leadership team calling one or more of your customers a week to conduct a personal survey of four questions to stay in close contact with your customers and then report this information as part of your weekly meeting rhythms.
A champion should be chosen at your company to occupy the position of Customer Advocacy. This person should be someone who is not subject to any prejudice by being involved in operations or sales & marketing. Both of these departments in your organization have a vested interest in how customers perceive your product or services. They are bound to be more subjective and have either narrow minded or preconceived ideas on how or why customers are responding. Only an objective observer with no ties to either department can provide you with the unvarnished truth about what your customers are offering about your business.
True innovations and adaptations to your product and service can thrive in this environment since it tempers the feelings of both these segments to eliminate their emotional responses to criticisms.
What would one expect a Customer Advocacy position to do? What kind of job accountabilities should this position be subject to? We can start by making them in charge of measuring customer satisfaction both qualitatively and quantitatively. This would mean they would not only measure customer satisfaction through a customer survey such as the Net Promoter Score, but they would also be in charge of discovering qualitative research and responses based on meeting with customers and asking them for individual feedback through focus groups, leadership surveys, and even mystery shopping consumers.
Net Promoter Score is perhaps one of the finest instruments to use to discover your customer loyalty and determine how well your business compares with the best standards in the world. Yet it is not the only tool to use to gain customer information and most importantly it fails to provide insight into what your customer maybe thinking about your competitors and the trends and desires they have for your product or service in the future.
This is where investigative work needs to take place to meet the Demand Driven Economy businesses now face.
Without someone in charge of this position, even if it is a part time position, your business faces the enormous challenge of continually falling behind the market place. Discovering what your competition knows is too late. You need to be continuously proactive in learning how your customers are feeling and what trends are evolving in the marketplace. That requires someone with their feet down in the field collecting and processing information consistently on your customers.
What’s most important to your customers right now? What does your business solve or provide that they want? What do you consistently provide better than your competition, and is that gap narrowing or widening? Will you need to find another customer advantage in order to stay ahead of your competition? If so, what are your customers concerned about and can you through brainstorming anticipate and develop a customer advantage that your competitors aren’t able to copy or are not presently aware of?
Listening to customers doesn’t require much more than an open ear. The best companies listen and collect data to see patterns that emerge. (See Top Priorities – Customer Experience – Linksys Comedy for how this can change.)
That’s the value of employee and customer feedback segments of the weekly leadership meeting (provided your leadership team is collecting customer info and keep their ears to the ground.). Everyone must be willing to hear the brutal facts and relay these to your leadership team. Better yet is your leadership team collecting this information from the rank and file and especially those team members who directly touch customers each day? What are they hearing that is repetitive and can impact your service to them resulting in increased customer loyalty or competitive advantage?
Don’t take this position of Customer Advocacy or customer feedback lightly. It can be an emerging and evolving area for competitive advantage. If you don’t put it in high regard, one of your competitors will and eventually will bury you with the insights and innovations it provides them.
Let’s look at the four questions your leadership team and you as the president of your company should be asking your customer each week next blog.