Every company collects customer feedback in one form or another. It is the ability to HEAR what their customers SAY that separates successful companies from “also run”s. Below are 3 steps that can help your company to improve its hearing:
1. Stop manipulating it
The availability of inexpensive survey tools, that allow you to produce and send your questions to thousands of email addresses, does not translate into valuable knowledge of how your customers experience doing business with your company. The type of questions you ask, inevitably influence the type of answers you receive. Implement ation of a shiny new “customer engagement” software, does not translate into meaningful insights for improving your products and services. People’s motivations for choosing to engage and conditions of their engagement, inevitably corrupt a value of their input.
“Just because something isn’t a lie does not mean that it isn’t deceptive.” Criss Jami
Just because you have no intent to manipulate Voice of Customer does not mean your efforts produce trustworthy results. Focus on listening to what customers have to say on their own accord and without any guidance.
“It’s not at all hard to understand a person; it’s only hard to listen without bias.” Criss Jami
2. Stop being an order taker
It became fashionable to quote Henry Ford and Steve Jobs in arguing that VoC is not a source of innovation. I am not sure there is an argument to be made – if customers were able to produce Market Requirements Documents, who would need innovators? It only means that if you expect customer feedback to spell out MRD for you, perhaps innovation is not your calling. The VoC is one of the best sources for learning the problems customers trying to resolve by “hiring” products available to them. Understanding of their problems and empathy with their experience, inspire true innovators to “translate” customer feedback into breakthrough products and services.
“The aim of selling is to satisfy a customer need; the aim of marketing is to figure out his need.” P. Kotler
Stop using selective hearing
Just because you pretend that VoC is limited to the customers who answer your questions, Word of Mouth does not stop influencing the rise or fall of your product’s fortunes. You can hide your head in the sand, but that will likely accelerate the distraction of your brand reputation. According to Jeff Besos, who knows a thing or two about customer-centricity:
“If you make customers unhappy in the physical world, they might each tell six friends. If you make customers unhappy on the Internet, they can each tell 6,000.”
You are more likely to learn from Word of Mouth analysis what really is important to your customers and why they buy your product, than from their responses to your survey.