The following is an excerpt from Listen Or Die by Sean McDade, PhD.
Listen to any company in almost every industry, and you’ll undoubtedly hear phrases like customer-centric and customer-focused touted as top priorities. But what does that exactly mean? When leaders of a company fail to explain or provide specific examples of what it really means to be customer-centric, employees often see these words as little more than corporate platitudes. I often get feedback from our clients’ employees who say they don’t know what it means to be customer-centric and certainly don’t know how to practice it.
Here’s the deal. Companies feel obligated to go on record as being customer-centric. It makes sense. Which company is going to publicly announce that they do not care about customers and what they have to say? But the reality is that becoming truly customer-centric is about more than developing vague marketing statements. The more important question is this:
“As an organization, what can we do today to put the customer first?”
And to really make this really real, each employee at a customer-centric organization should ask themselves this question:
“What can I do today to create a better customer experience for our customer?”
The reality is that becoming truly customer-centric is more than developing marketing statements—it is a fundamental shift in a company’s mindset to focus on the customer.
The best way I know for companies to actually become more customer-centric is to consistently listen to the customer. Period. It starts and ends there. In fact, as the title of this book implies, I believe that the choice is simple—either listen to your customers or die. It sounds a bit dramatic, but it is true. Ask RadioShack, Blockbuster, BlackBerry, Kodak, and any other companies that were once on top and then stopped listening to their customers.
In my business, and throughout this book, I recommend accomplishing customer centricity by using an organization-wide, customer listening program called Voice of the Customer (VoC).
VoC gathers customer feedback during, or soon after, an experience. Then customer feedback is delivered to the people within the organization who are responsible for improving the experience and immediately resolving any issues identified by the customer. Resolving customer issues immediately increases the likelihood that you will retain customers and reduce churn. This is a marked departure from when all customer feedback lived in the market research department and was often confined to a handful of people within the organization. More on that in Lesson 8.
Here’s the key point for now: when customer feedback reaches those who interact with customers every day (usually called the front line or operators), and they are empowered to act on this feedback and save potentially lost customers, a CX mindset is extended to the entire company. Your company begins to become customer-centric!
VoC also makes it easy for customers to be heard no matter how they choose to interact with your company. I refer to these interactions as touchpoints throughout the book. VoC tells you which touchpoints are going well (a hotel’s spa, for example) and which are not (perhaps the hotel’s in-house restaurant or front desk service). Much more to come on touchpoints later.
The Benefits of Customer Listening
Here’s some gold early in the book—if you remember only what follows, you are already ahead of the game regarding customer listening. Regular customer listening enables your company to be more customer-centric by:
- Immediately resolving individual customer problems as soon as possible before you lose that customer and/or they spread negative word of mouth (often through social media). Reducing customer churn and increasing the chances that a customer will provide a positive social review (or reducing the chances they will share a negative one) are two major business benefits of customer listening programs.
Understanding, at a strategic level, how customers feel about the various touchpoints, so you know where you are strong and where you need improvement.
Improving the touchpoints that aren’t working, starting with the ones most likely to cost you customers or entice them to share negative feedback on social media.
This is an excerpt from Listen Or Die by Sean McDade, PhD.
Sean McDade, PhD is the author of Listen or Die: 40 Lessons That Turn Customer Feedback Into Gold. He founded PeopleMetrics in 2001 and is the architect of the company’s customer experience management (CEM) software platform. As CEO, he guides the company’s vision and strategy. Sean has over 20 years of experience helping companies measure and improve the customer experience. Earlier in his career, he spent five years at the Gallup Organization, where he was the practice leader of their consulting division. His company offers CEM software with advanced machine learning solutions and hands-on analytical support to help companies make sense of their CX data. Sean holds a Ph.D. in Business Administration with a specialization in marketing science from Temple University in Philadelphia. He has published eight articles in peer-reviewed scholarly journals and has taught over 25 marketing classes. Sean was named a 40 under 40 award recipient of the Philadelphia region. He is an active Angel Investor, including investments in Tender Greens, CloudMine and Sidecar.
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