I have become a bit of a drone enthusiast lately. I had some trepidation early on because of worries about crashing or losing such an expensive toy. I discovered a company called DJI, and I have bought many of my drones from them because during the sales process they helped me understand how hard they were to lose, crash, or fly in restricted air spaces.
That drew me in as an initial customer, but what has kept me loyal to DJI is their constant innovation and how they listen to their customers.
Consider something as simple as a remote control. They originally had fixed control sticks that made it difficult to tuck in your pocket. They re-engineered the remotes in their next model to have removable sticks that made the remote slimmer. This had one drawback - the sticks often fell out of the storage slots, and I lost a few of them myself. But this was an improved design. The most recent controllers still have removable sticks but the slots have been redesigned to make it almost impossible for them to fall out.
This iterative process is particularly important in consumer goods, but is applicable for anyone seeking to deliver a superior product or service.
But it demands that we listen to our customers, and there is no wrong way to hear them. VOC (Voice of the Customer) programs provide a great mechanism to collect customer feedback and tuck it into neat little boxes. It allows for collection, analysis, and reporting.
But what VOC can't do is connect what we learn to what we do. For that, it takes leadership and tenacity.
VOC has several distinct goals:
To hear customers in real time - what is their level of satisfaction and why
To understand their wants, needs, wins, and pain points
To understand what has value to guests
To understand how your customers think and feel about your products and services
To use what you learn to improve
Most organizations do a fair job of data collection - particularity large companies which have the resources to partner with an industry leader in data collection. This leads to many data points and much reporting, but often that is where many leave it. There is a distinct breakdown in the communication process when it comes to what is heard from customers and what actions are taken.
Without action, this leads to well informed companies delivering lackluster results.
VOC can take many forms - but whether analog or high tech - the point is to hear customers and then use what you hear to improve or refine your business.
There is no wrong way to hear a customer. Remember that you may collect data through an online survey or by what you hear from customers directly. Be sure you capture impromptu guest touches and encourage your teams to share all they hear. Your front line team is a great source of information when engaged to be a conduit for guest feedback
Compile the results with action in mind. As you collect results keep an eye on themes and root causes with an eye toward what can be done to improve. Reading comments as stand alone events will make it more difficult to drive change, but when you watch for themes and interconnected events you will begin to see what the key dissatisfiers in your business may be. Plotting these against actions is the only way to drive results and move from understanding to action.
Share the feedback with your team. This is where most businesses fail. They collect data like Scrooge McDuck in his swimming pool full of gold, but they don't share the information. This goes beyond sharing between departments and must be used to empower your front line teams. Your teams who have the most direct customer engagement must know the goal, the results, and what is driving the gaps. Once they know this information they become powerful catalysts for change. They also will be valuable contributors when it comes to problem solving to improve products or services.
Remember why it matters. Finally, its easy to become obsessed with scores. To covet the 90% top box score. To chase the white rabbit into a maze of data. But remember that this all connects back to people. This is about serving your consumers, customers, and guest each day and there is a person on the other side of that information who is counting on you.
The numbers represent how well you are taking care of customers, but their success and satisfaction is what matters most. The numbers help you get there.
So remember to connect what you hear to what you do - and prioritize the actions you take against your customer feedback. Otherwise you will find that you don't see movement in your satisfaction scores - and more importantly, you will never amaze your guests or grow your sales.
Thanks for keeping your customers at the center of everything you do.
Tony Johnson, CCXP Customer Experience (CX) Leader | Author | Speaker
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