Why your customer relationship and retention program will fail without listening to the voice of the customer.
In a June 2009 report entitled “Customer Experience Boosts Revenue” (http://bit.ly/9ALBJ4), Bruce Temkin of Forrester Research estimates “that large firms can gain between $177 million and $311 per year by enhancing loyalty through better customer experiences.”
Intuitively, all of us in marketing know this. Thanks to Bruce for affirming our beliefs and quantifying them.
Before we can improve customer experiences we need to understand what the customers’ expectations are and how we’re doing meeting or exceeding them. The only way we know this is by asking.
You cannot have a meaningful customer relationship management and retention program without having a dialogue with your customer. If you try to do so, here are some of the problems you should be prepared for:
- You cannot improve problems you don’t understand. As hard as we try, we cannot put ourselves in the customers’ shoes because we are not them. We don’t have the same expectations or perspective. Are we putting up barriers to purchase, confusing customers or making life more difficult for people trying to do business with us? We don’t know unless we ask.
- Not all experiences are the same. Different customers use different channels giving the product or service provider different “moments of truth.” Are all of these channels integrated? Are we providing a consistent experience at the moment of truth?
- You can’t have a dialogue with unknown customers. Whether customers complain or rave about your service, get back to them and thank them for their feedback and attempt to create a relationship and a dialogue.
- Process driven improvements don’t change company culture. A commitment to customer service and satisfaction starts at the top and is reinforced throughout the company, including how those at the top treat the employees they are managing. Your employees will not treat your customers any better than you treat them.
- You might make the current situation worse. Trying to enhance the customer experience without checking in with the customer could confuse your customer or force them into channels they’re not comfortable with. Failing to ask the customer what they want prevents you from getting insight into what you are, or are not, achieving.
The voice of the customer is invaluable. Improving relationships with current customers, driving new business, increasing referrals and building a reputation for service excellence requires listening to your customers and responding to what you hear.
Are you listening?