Customer Satisfaction: “The Bad is the Service of the Great”

customer-satisfaction

While numerous companies claim that they are shifting their business model toward a more customer-centric approach, it is possible to find a few examples of such change.

According to the book Uncommon Service, there are two ways to fit into this kind of ever-changing culture: companies can either improve their service to better satisfy customer needs or convince them they need what they have to offer. The first one, of course, is the only choice that’ll enable you to overcome the challenges of the digital transformation.

As a matter of fact, you need to learn to listen to the voice of your customer to gather enough feedback to act upon. The lack of comprehension between organizations and customers is evident if you look at the numbers: a Teradata report recently highlighted that only 41% of marketing managers are using data gathered by the audiences to implement and improve their strategy.

Common sense is often not enough to determine what your customer needs, data is gathered to benefit your marketing strategy and develop a new customer service model.

What should you do then?

We will start by highlighting a few essential concepts before we move on to the specific steps you need to take to stand out in a customer-centered ecosystem. Frances Frei, Harvard professor and Uncommon Service co-author, analyses the correct attitude of a business to succeed in this specific environment, understanding the financial model of your business is essential, but it cannot be what your company focuses on.

Yes, budgeting and increasing revenues are, but the extreme focus on them could harm the relationship with your customers. Understanding the needs and wants of your clients is a necessity when implementing a specific financial model. What does this mean? Frei introduces the concept of a “bilingual” business, a model where service impacts the economic model of the company and not vice-versa.

With this in mind, how do you revolutionize the structure and business model of your company to put the customer first?

Step 1: Ask Your Employees

Common sense is often overrated when it comes to interpreting customers’ needs. Companies often think the product or service is a fulfilling solution for each segment of the Customer Base, so they don’t think they need to validate that idea. And what is the first step to validate an idea? Ask your first customers, those directly involved with the Brand: employees.

Neglecting employees’ opinions and innovative ideas might lead to an increasing gap between the customer and the company, which then reflects on the customer experience. Your job is to test your people. Create small groups where creativity and equality are encouraged, find out what they think are the most important attributes of the product, what should be improved and how these changes might impact your base.

Step 2: Ask Your Customers

Directly talk to your customer base, ask them what their needs are and what they want from you. Find out why your competitors are being appreciated and where they are lacking. Use those answers to isolate the attributes that are valued the most and, more importantly, use the ones that are valued the least.

Your company can’t focus resources on every aspect, as the dispersion of energies usually leads to mediocrity. The lesson is easy: Have the guts to be bad, don’t be afraid of the weaknesses of your business, be bad in the service of good.

Step 3: Analyze Your Results

With the first two steps you have hopefully gathered tons of information and actionable data. Now it’s the time to strategize, to prioritize and develop a plan where the customer is the center. It is time to take all the data and find solutions. And you will neve be able to do so if you don’t share all the data with your employees and figure out a plan together. Use the Voice of the Customer to set up a brand new idea to implement.

Step 4: Act Upon Data

That’s it. It’s time to reorganize your resources and establish yourself. Apple knew their laptop was the best product on the market in terms of design and operating system, but they were also aware that it lacked memory compared to other options. Yet, it was not a priority for the people that purchased them. Be smart about your strengths and even smarter about your weaknesses.

These four steps give you a general guideline to better connect with your audience, to strengthen the partnership with your consumer by understanding what they want from you and especially what they don’t want. Don’t be afraid of weak performance, use that part that is not performing well and turn it into a powerful marketing lever that could possibly increase visibility and attract attention. Use the data you gather to change, evolve and develop a new model for your business, a model where the customer is the beating heart of every single action.

 

Photo by Lukasz Saczek on Unsplash

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Create Value, Start by Listening. The Use of Voice of Customer

voice of the customer

Companies are increasingly aware that their value is the result of their customers’ value and the capability to gradually improve their loyalty, profitability and Net Promoter Score.

Despite the rising attention to the “customer obsession” and the growing presence of technologies that allow brands to understand their audience better, it is still hard for companies to achieve effective results, get closer to customers, and intercept their real needs and expectations.

What is often missing is the use of integrated development strategies that allow to listen to consumers throughout the whole product development process, creating a continuous interaction between Brand and consumer. The result would be a deeper understanding of the real market needs and the creation of an authentic relationship with the customer, a proper real partnership.

In addition to the need of containing costs, it is often difficult to manage effectively the results of a multi-channel approach caused by technologies that have disrupted the dialogue between brand and customer.

Unlike the past, the digital revolution has transformed communication habits and changed people’s lifestyles with incomparable speed; it is a change most companies have yet to understand, not to mention how to incorporate it within their strategies.

As a matter of facts, companies face a big contradiction: on one hand, the huge amount of data ‘generated’ by the Digital Age; on the other hand, the inability to keep up with these changes and the need to close the gap and align contact channels with current customer habits.

Brands and consumers have never been as close as they are today, potentially. For this to happen, however, there is an obligated path: companies must restart from the relationship with their customers in order to create value and identify the correct strategies within this liquid and highly unfaithful market.

The question is: How can you build value through partnership with customers? Here is our proposal in four steps.

Step 1. Build Identity: from CRM to Customer Intimacy

While the need to know your customer represents a true leitmotiv among marketers, the knowledge that would make this happen is, in fact, less common. You must go beyond a simple collection of data, and learn how to develop a person-to-person approach aimed at create a more personal relationship with your customer.

Thus, the real target is to reach an effective interaction between people and brands, which would allow you to understand consumers’ needs, anticipate their desires, deeply comprehend their identity, and highlight their emotions and real interests.

Intimacy with customer has to be the first requirement of your strategy!

Technology has significantly simplified how we achieve these goals, thanks to the variety of tools that increase the proximity between companies and customers: messaging platforms, conversational interfaces, apps and listening platforms. There is plenty of possibilities for a real omnichannel Voice of Customer!

Step 2. Tailoring: from Customer Intimacy to personalization

Customer intimacy and data analysis are at the key elements of services, communication and personalized products. Knowing the identity of each customer must become a pillar of your business, so that you’ll be capable to retain consumers and acquire new ones.

Marketers need to go far beyond the concept of service provision; the customer must be put in the conditions of creating a true identification with the product and the Brand. Today, artificial intelligence and machine learning make it possible to deploy solutions which efficiently customize not only products and services, but also communication.

It’s a matter of shaping the message, regulating its extent, tone of voice, and choice of words to fit each client’s profile and to increase its effectiveness as a consequence.

Step 3. Build engagement: from personalization to partnership

The realization of personalized solutions goes through a dynamic process of engagement with those considered potential beneficiaries, the customers. Thus, a marketing strategy that aspires to customer satisfaction has to include among its objectives the creation of customer engagement solutions.

How? Opening privileged channels with the customers in order to actively include them in the continuous improvement process (listening before talking). It is essential for your listening strategy to identify innovative and engaging tools that can guarantee bidirectionality, participation and commonality: for instance, co-creation activities, contests or crowdsourcing technology platforms.

Step 4. Build satisfaction: monitoring performances to create continuous value

The collection of the voice of customer is crucial for performance verification activities that represent an indispensable part of the continuous process of improvement. A customer satisfaction assessment helps brands keeping customers satisfied, with critical benefits to the profitability and the possibility of expansion.

Although most companies have used satisfaction assessment tools, there is often a mismatch between the moment of the brand experience and the moment they ask for a feedback. Today more than ever, it is extremely necessary to adopt channels and strategies capable of gathering the voice of customers while the experience is happening.

In addition to a greater reliability, the collection of contextual data will allow to differentiate strategies on the basis of the different profiles that characterize the consumers of each store or point of interest.

Effective tools that can be used to gather timely information are geolocation systems, inclusion of VOC paths within Brands’ Apps and notification requests related to the passage of potential customers and prospects.

The brand experience starts from the expectations that customers have created, which in turn depend on how much they are satisfied. At this date, every successful company knows that the creation of value begins by valuing their customers. You must listen, and the best way to do so is by taking up on every opportunity technology has to offer.

 

Photo by Jason Rosewell on Unsplash