The modern customer is powerful. Social and mobile technologies have given customers a means to publicly profess their love — or hatred — for a brand. But what does this mean for your organization? This means that customers have the ability to broadly affect the perception of your brand — positively or negatively. Certainly, companies cannot ignore this evolution in customer power; it’s here to stay, and organizations have to meet the challenge head on.
One obvious imperative is to ensure that your organization provides at least a good customer experience, if not a superior one. This is easier said than done though. Today’s customers are accustomed to instant gratification in response to their needs and wants. For businesses this means that speed and, more importantly, follow through are absolute musts.
So what can your organization do today to improve its customer experience? The answer seems simple enough: proactively capture feedback and listen to your customers. This applies to every industry, whether we’re talking about universities engaging with students, government agencies with voters, or financial institutions with consumers.
That’s right — customers want to be heard. Most importantly, they want their concerns to be acknowledged, and ideally they want action to be taken. The only way to truly understand what your customers want and need is to ask them.
So it’s essential to proactively gather customer input, and customer satisfaction surveys are the most effective vehicle for capturing these valuable insights across your organization. I advocate implementing two types of survey approaches:
Now, once you’ve gathered this customer feedback, then you must respond. Communicate to your customers that you’ve heard their concerns. Don’t gloss over this. In fact, let me state it again. After you have summarized the survey results, read them, and shared them, communicate back to your customers that you have heard their concerns.
When was the last time an organization, after compelling survey results, dropped you an email or called you to thank you for providing feedback? For me, never. Ideally, you can also tell customers what action you’re taking to help improve the experience for them and others in the future. This builds trust, trust builds advocacy and brand advocates are essential to the success of any company.
As you’re building out your organization’s customer experience program, make voice of the customer (VoC) initiatives a central component. VoC provides a means to measure and improve the overall effectiveness of customer experience initiatives, which is widely recognized as the only true competitive advantage in today’s modern market.
So ask your customers what they think. You’ll be glad you did — no matter what you discover! Because, as Bill Gates once said, “Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.”
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