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voice of the customer – are we really listening? - Shivani Verma - ContactCenterWorld.com Blog

voice of the customer – are we really listening?

Today 44% of CEOs feel that customer retention is one of the key performance areas that they would like to invigorate. Since contact centres are the first touch point for many customers, the question to ask here is “Are we really listening to what our customers have to say?” Many organizations confuse high profitability with high customer satisfaction, forgetting that it could be their high-end customers who feel most alienated and angry. Even worse, managers may become so focused on market research data that they start thinking of customers as numbers and stop hearing the real voices of their customers. A recent Bain & Company survey reveals just how commonly organizations misread the market. They surveyed 362 firms and found that 80% believed they delivered a superior experience to their customers. But when customers were surveyed, they rated only 8% of organizations as delivering a truly superior experience. What has this elite group of 8% of companies done to set themselves apart from the pack and transform their customers into supporters? Aim for customer advocacy Most companies are very good at segmenting their market and designing their value proposition based on these segments. It’s Marketing 101. The leaders in customer service do something more. They design their products based not only on customer segmentation but also by taking a broader view of what the customer experience is and should be. These organizations understand that having the right product or service does not ensure customer advocacy. In designing propositions for specific markets, leaders focus on the complete customer experience. This includes all customer touch points such as purchase, service and support, upgrades and billing. These organizations consider all the steps required to deliver their product or service to the right segment. Cross-functional collaboration The best laid plans are rendered useless if they are not properly executed. All teams – from marketing to sales to service to supply chain management – need to be motivated and work as one to deliver the company’s value proposition across the entire customer experience. The best companies find ways to listen to what their customers tell others by tuning in to their customers’ voices everyday. In contact centres, companies must hire the right people, train them well and motivate them if they want to delight customers. Traditional metrics that measure individual performance are not enough to ensure service excellence. Companies must adopt metrics that encourage cross-functional collaboration. To ensure that customers advocate the company to their friends, companies should set targets that require coordinated contribution from all departments – customer support, marketing, operations, network or customer service, manufacturing and distribution, and finance. For example, say TELUS sets a goal of making a welcome call to every TELUS TV customer within a week of installing a new line. Meeting this goal requires cross-functional collaboration – information must flow from the back office to the front office. Continuous improvement Every company must improve on its value proposition quarter after quarter, year over year. Leaders in customer experience have established processes to enable this corporate wide realignment to take place. Their tactics include: - Tools that enable customer focused planning and execution – customers are placed at the top of the organization’s strategic priorities. - All performance incentives are related to customer experience. - Direct immediate customer feedback on how the company is doing and how they can improve. For example, eBay employees known as "pinks" monitor eBay message boards to learn which issues, complaints, and concerns need attention. - Targeted surveys for all churned customers to learn why they left and what would bring them back. Feedback is then looped back to the relevant departments and steps are initiated to address concerns. By following these processes, organizations can begin the journey to convert their indifferent customers to passionate advocates.

Publish Date: September 13, 2010 7:45 AM

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