How connected to your customers are you?
I have worked in companies where I did not even know who the customers of the products we made were, other than to know that they were the people that bought our products. Later in my career, I had the chance to work in organizations where all employees would interact to some degree with their external customers. I saw the power that comes with strong customer connections.
Another insight of mine is that customer service quality increases as the amount of contact between each employee and each customer group increases. I repeatedly see a direct correlation between the percent of time employees spend with customers and the level of customer service.
One reason more time leads to higher service is that we can attach a name and face to the ‘customer’ label. By the reactions on their faces, we can better understand their likes and dislikes.
High performance organizations spend lots of time with their customers. They install listening posts to increase the percent of time that EACH EMPLOYEE spends with different customer groups.
For example, key face-to-face listening posts that most high performing companies use include focus group participation, planning involvement, and product and service development sessions. Making regular visits to both the customer’s location and in-house, and point of purchase relationship building, are also consistent system features.
LEARN MORE: Measuring Process Improvement Effectiveness
What do your customers really want?
How does your company decide what products and services its customers really want? Do you use focus groups and surveys? Do you observe your customers in the field as they buy your product or make purchase decisions that involve it?
There are a variety of ways to determine customer requirements. However, too few companies use more than simply their own opinions to gauge customer satisfaction.
That’s right. Many decisions about what the customer wants are made in meeting rooms. Leaders simply review written summaries of customer meetings or discuss what they think the customer wants. How do you know what your customers really want?
Great companies use a host of fact-based approaches to create a list of possible customer wants. They systematically prioritize those wants.Then, they convert ‘high value’ wants into product and service features.
There is recognition that different customer segments expect different things from the products and services they purchase. Leaders place a high degree of value on the use of fact-based approaches to determine how these requirements differ.