Today we (as customers) expect to be able to tell service providers what we think of them. How we do that depends on two things – one, our personal preference; and two, the ease of access to the people we want to tell.
You can’t complain directly to the postman. He’s gone.
Official channels seem like a black hole, where you may never get an answer. You wonder whether they really want your feedback.
So you shout it out on Twitter, or your social media of choice. It feels like the only decent thing to do.
Then the Voice of the Customer turns into a news story – and your reputation is running away from you.
Of course, there are millions of transactions that happen each day.
Most pass without comment.
Some cause irritation. Too many make the blood boil.
But how do organisations capture the experience, gather feedback, and understand how to do it better?
Last week, I heard from a variety of organisations, at The Voice of the Customer Directors Forum run by Engage Customer, on how they are capturing and using the voice of the customer effectively.
When Brighton & Hove Albion FC moved from a crumbling wreck of a home to a brand-new stadium, they had to change the whole ethos of service. They spoke to supporters (and they are supporters, not customers). And they replayed the comments and stories back to staff through a technique called Verbatim Theatre. The result – a great experience and a whole host of awards.
Three (the mobile phone co) had a problem. Although they had a great track record for service, there was little or no perception of this amongst the wider customer population. Now, when customers return from abroad, for example, they tell them how much they saved against a normal tarrif, and then they ask them to comment on Trustpilot. The result – a massive growth in peer-to-peer recommendation.
SACO Apartments (yes, I’d never heard of them either) can attribute much of their phenomenal growth over the last three years to engaging colleagues and listening to customers more effectively. For example, they asked customers whether they wanted a smart app to do everything from turning on the TV to managing the heating. The customers said no. Just make it feel like a home. It saved them hundreds of thousands, and gave customers what they wanted. The result – engaged customers and colleagues, and a fast-growing business.
The takeaways? Because every conference has some takeaways…
Engage brain – no, not talking about neuroscience. Think about how you are capturing customer feedback and experience, if at all.
Engage customers – yes, stating the bleeding obvious, but… The truth is customers aren’t just going to speak up just because you ask them to. It takes effort and persistence to encourage feedback (via a variety of channels).
Engage ears – one of the fundamental problems is listening to customers – and not just hearing what we want to hear or indeed just listening to what the customer is saying. But analysing whether there is a bigger problem behind it.
Engage colleagues – they have the conversations with customers, so they can tell you what they are thinking. They are also the ones who can react and show customers that they are being listened to.
Engage collaboration – data and feedback from customers can come from multiple sources – sales, customer services, marketing etc. It’s absolutely vital to get the different teams talking to each other, and have one data stream.
Engage failure – yes, failure. Be prepared to fail. Just as long as something even better comes out of it.