Customer-centricity is increasingly being viewed by leaders as a strategic priority. Based on employee feedback from the PeopleMetrics 2011 Employee Engagement Trends report, this four-part series examines the seven practices that differentiate a customer-centric culture from a company-centric one.
Practice #3: Invite customers to give feedback.
In the 2010 report titled “Customer Feedback Management,” Gleanster, a company that benchmarks best practices in technology-enabled business initiatives, focused on how top performing companies view their investment in customer feedback management. One section of this report asked companies how they maximize the value of a customer feedback initiative. While respondents derived quite a bit of value from things like sharing data and insights with the right people and the ability to draw actionable insights from customer feedback, there was one clear area in which respondents discovered value.
92% of respondents in the study cited the need to “instill an organizational focus on listening to the voice of the customer” as the most important value driver of their decision to collect customer feedback. “When an organization internalizes this idea,” writes Gleanster, “it can drive cooperation across functional silos and empower front-line employees to question policies and processes that customers are telling them degrade their experience with the brand.”
Employees in our study viewed an investment in collecting customer feedback and acting on the responses as a sign of commitment to improve customer experiences. One employee echoed the Gleanster finding saying, “We spend time and money on client feedback to make sure we are doing the best we can. We implement changes to make sure excellent service is delivered.” Verbal communication of the importance of focusing on the customer is important but can be bolstered by “putting your money where your mouth is” and investing in Voice of the Customer software that will allow customers to speak directly to your organization.
Practice #4: Invite employees to share ideas and suggestions on improving the customer experience.
“There is no [employee] feedback asked for,” wrote one respondent to our survey, ”and when changes are made, our opinions or contributions due to experience (and knowing what works and what doesn’t) are not listened to.” The CBS show Undercover Boss illustrates how wide this gap is between executive decisions and employee knowledge. This reality show invites CEOs to go “undercover” in their own companies to see how policies, procedures, technology, etc. impact the employee experience and delivered customer service. Each episode closes with the company leader revealing his identity and making changes based on what he learned from his frontline people.
Only a handful of CEOs will have the opportunity to gain this unique perspective on how their company works but conducting employee satisfaction surveys can provide similar benefits. Employees often hold deep knowledge of what customers need most, how to provide it, and systems that prevent them from delivering it. Asking for employee feedback is an important part of delivering a consistently great customer experience and sends a powerful message to employees about the importance of their role in aligning the company around the customer.
The practice of collecting feedback is used consistently by customer-centric cultures, and for the 88% of CEOs focused on getting closer to the customer, hearing the voice of customers and employees will be an integral step toward achieving this goal.