Customer Insight and Understanding
There are many methods to help us understand what the customers need, want, and are willing to pay for. However, the most important consideration is to ensure that customer insight is gathered relevant to specific goals and objectives—and that there is an intent to use the insight once it is gathered. Research has proved that asking for customer feedback and then ignoring it is far more damaging than never asking for it in the first place. Companies would be far better off feigning ignorance than asking customers to take the time and expend resources to provide suggestions and recommendations without taking action. Without a sense that they are being heard and are making a difference, trust is broken, customers stop responding, and critical feedback efforts are crippled.
Underlying all of these methods must be an urgent alerting mechanism such that if extremely negative customer sentiment is discovered it is immediately acted upon without waiting for the full survey cycle to complete. Bill Yoh, CCO of Day & Zimmerman, has created a “low score” alert for NPS loyalty survey wherein he is immediately notified of any below-threshold scores with some preliminary indications as to the reason for the low score. One customer who responded poorly was one of his top 10 largest and most strategic customers—truly an eye-opener. This alert enabled them to have an immediate discussion and begin remedying the situation, which may not have even been discovered without this alert.
At GoDaddy, Bob Olson had 140,000 calls each week that were fol¬lowed up with a transactional survey, and a bad survey result ended up in a manager’s inbox within 2 minutes of completion, was followed up within ½ hour, and then subjected to a root-cause analysis every week.
Another consideration in this section is that the CCO must ensure that the customers providing input are a representative sample for the issue being addressed. One CCO mentioned he was excited about a 30% response rate to his most recent surveys, and another CCO cautioned him to beware of the possibility that response from 30% of the lower-tier customers may not be as valuable as 30% response rate from top-tier customers. As always, beware of the “Curse of Averages.” As Rudy Vidal is fond of saying, “Customers do not experience averages, yet we tend to make decisions and act based on averages. CCOs need to unmask issues hiding behind averages.” CCOs must be careful not to forget that averages may mask poor feedback from a more desirable audience, or may hide opportunities arising from an emerging audience.