Using Customer Feedback to Avoid the Ivory Tower Trap

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Staying connected to the day-to-day realities of the customer experience is a challenge for every executive. You know a great customer experience is important, but how should that influence the big picture decisions you’re making? There are a few ways a customer feedback program can help.

First, you need to avoid the “ultimate metric” trap. An overall customer loyalty metric – whether it’s Customer Satisfaction, NPS, or Engagement – has its place. While this master metric is helpful in tracking long-term success, it won’t direct you to daily decisions to help you run your department. To do this, you need to uncover customer stories. There are a few ways to do this:

  • Immerse yourself – Spend a few minutes every day reading through open-ended customer comments, listen to customer calls, reach out and speak to them yourself. In so doing, you’ll run into a variety of topics and sentiments. You’ll hear feedback from mad customers and delighted customers. Some will relate to your department, many won’t. Don’t feel like you have to immediately do something with this information; it’s just a short exercise to get you thinking like a customer.
  • Get notified – Of course, you’ll also want to know if customers are talking about something specifically relating to your area of responsibility. It’s becoming much easier to sort out this information with the help of text analytics. Talk to the department managing your customer feedback program and request that they send you alerts relating to your line of business. For example, if you’re in charge of ecommerce you can receive an alert each time a customer mentions the website or a report based upon multiple comments.  Knowing what customers are saying gives you a distinct advantage.
  • Automate decisions – We encourage clients to figure out what their Guiding Principles are around the customer experience. These guidelines define how to make decisions around the customer experience. So, for example, if one of your Guiding Principles is Make it Easy and your legal team is pressuring you to add a new layer of complexity and security to a contract then you should push back in the name of your Guiding Principle, and figure out if the changes are 100% necessary.
  • Use your resources – If your company is running a customer feedback program go talk to the team who owns it. These people handle customer feedback all day. They have the reports, they know the drivers of your customer experience, they can tell you stories, and they are generally people who are incredibly passionate about making your customer experience phenomenal. If you show interest chances are they’ll go to any lengths to assist you.  Go and talk to them so they can help you use customer feedback to drive positive change in your part of the business.

It’s easy to place the responsibility of “making a great customer experience” on the front line, but the big picture decisions you make every day have enormous impact on what happens when a customer interacts with  your business and its people. Customer feedback is an invaluable tool in helping you think like a customer, even though you may not be working directly with them.







Photo credit: extranoise / Foter.com / CC BY

 

2 Responses to Using Customer Feedback to Avoid the Ivory Tower Trap

  • Michael Lowenstein

    Janessa -

    Overall, your point about the lack of granular actionability of a simple, overall performance metric is well taken – “First, you need to avoid the “ultimate metric” trap. An overall customer loyalty metric – whether it’s Customer Satisfaction, NPS, or Engagement – has its place. While this master metric is helpful in tracking long-term success, it won’t direct you to daily decisions to help you run your department” – is good general guidance. That said, it should also be recognized that more contemporary, and real-world, frameworks have been developed around customer advocacy and customer-brand bonding. They monetize at high and consistent levels, and they enable organizations to bring insights down to the experience and transactional level and can truly help leverage loyalty behavior. I addressed this important subject in a recent CustomerThink blog: http://www.customerthink.com/blog/its_time_to_get_really_serious_about_performance_metrics_what_works_what_has_challenges_and_why

    Regards.

    Michael Lowenstein

  • Ben

    Great points about customer experience. As a web-based platform, we look to reach out to customers, but it is difficult because they are located all over the globe. We are actually a two-sided business, an issue that makes getting feedback even more difficult:

    http://matchist.com/blog/working-a-two-sided-business-strategy/

    - Ben

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