Where in This Puzzle Does the Customer Fit?
You would be hard-pressed to name a couple of themes in business that have received more attention over the past few years than Performance and Accountability. Companies have worked hard at developing culture and tools around measuring performance. Everyone knows the definition of a KPI. Every business unit has several, and most workers have them posted on the tack board of their workstation.
Same with accountability. Successful CRM companies, such as Salesforce.com, have made the practice of logging customer touches a standard across the enterprise, not just for sales reps.
Customer and prospect needs and concerns are carefully logged, as required. Marketing, Sales and Customer Success front line staff are, in effect, creating a narrative, and in most companies, this narrative is essentially used to be ever more customer-centric. Of course, all this documentation is also a tool for management to analyze performance and accountability, down to the individual contributor. Great stuff, and a constant challenge to do it even better.
So where do customers fit in this picture? As they go along their “journey”, how do companies really measure and respond to the customer’s experience? Front line teams do the best job they can, by asking the customer to stay on the line for a short survey. Some customers do take the time – but most do not; and the ones that do are often biased – either being too polite or too vitriolic.
This is where the system breaks down. With this great machinery to support performance and accountability, there is a very weak link in the chain. We have a perfunctory, thin and poorly orchestrated attempt at getting an opt-in from a customer who is more than anxious to get back to their inbox, after taking time out to handle something that amounts to an interruption in their day.
They may be relieved that their concern is being addressed; annoyed that there was an issue to begin with – or something in-between. That quick score shows up in a cursory survey that is, unfortunately, not predictive of anything that matters to the company and doesn’t provide actionable insights.
Humans are funny creatures; we avoid confrontation and telling the truth if it might lead to confrontation. However, when the customer truth is told openly, it is a 6-lane freeway toward a more enriched relationship. Getting to that truth starts with engaging a highly skilled, experienced third-party to engineer and conduct key customer inquiries. Only then, can you avoid being blindsided by a surprise customer defection to a competitor for a solution that you could have provided them, had you known their issues and needs.
“So, where does the customer fit in the puzzle? They are the very first and most important piece upon which everything your company does is built.”