Customer Insight Manager. Customer Intelligence Specialist. CXO. Head of Customer Relations. The business world is full of new titles, leaving little doubt that companies today have renewed and sharpened their focus on customer's attitudes and opinions in the wake of the financial crisis. This is especially apparent in today's organizational structures, where companies are increasingly establishing one or more departments dedicated to improving the customer experience.
However, despite this increased focus on meeting customer expectations, it is still a fact that many companies continue to experience one significant challenge in this area. They have trouble developing initiatives that can actually boost satisfaction and loyalty among customers. And if this hurdle isn't overcome, there is a risk that the customers' and the company's engagement will dissipate.
This is where customer surveys and the subsequent customer report provide valuable information. That is, if the customer report doesn't end up stuffed in someone's bottom drawer.
THE GREAT CHALLENGE
As a consultant in customer survey design and execution, I have had the pleasure of experiencing first-hand how companies today take a professional approach to customer surveys. I have also observed that companies can have very different ideas about customer surveys - regardless of whether we're talking general satisfaction surveys, continuous touchpoint measurements or other types of structured customer feedback.
On the one hand, there is a massive focus on customer feedback as a significant source of information when companies need to make decisions about their future direction and overall value proposition (as can be seen, for instance, in a company's decision to incorporate customer feedback into the company's overall KPIs). On the other hand, there is a clear sense of frustration over how difficult it is to take the survey's conclusions from the strategic level and make changes down through the organization to a level where the customers can actually feel a positive effect.
Over the last 10 years or so, I've given quite a few presentations at various management levels in many Nordic companies. These presentations all clearly illustrate that customer feedback is being taken very seriously and that everyone is working hard to analyze, prioritize and draw conclusions to develop initiatives and activities aimed at moving the company in an even more customer-oriented direction.
At these same companys, I have also observed how difficult it is to translate strategic decisions into an operational reality that the customers can actually feel. I have come to believe that in many companies, there is a sizeable gap between the strategic conclusions and the subsequent ability to launch and execute concrete initiatives and action plans.
A NECESSARY BASIS FOR CHANGE
In my experience, there is a tendency to take too isolated a view of customer survey results. Consequently, they don't get put into a bigger organizational context and form the necessary basis for change. "Someone" has to make change happen. And those "someones" stretch beyond the Customer Insight department. You have to reach all the way out to the line whereinitiatives and action plansresult in concrete behavioral changes.
To ensure the strongest possible effect and organizational performance, it is, in my opinion, vital to balance other dimensions that are also necessary for achieving operational success. In addition to having a strong customer feedback set-up, it is important to maintain a customer-centric approach to working with operational excellence, governance, top management and People (managers and employees).
Within each of these dimensions, there is a series of concrete tools and activities that the company can use to ensure that the changes actually take place.
My conclusion (however mundane it may seem) is that those companies that are able to systematically and holistically focus on working with the results of a customer survey will come out ahead of the competition. They will be able to deliver outstanding customer experiences developed from fact-based customer feedback. At these companies, the results of their customer surveys never end up stuffed in someone's bottom drawer or foundering in a PowerPoint presentation somewhere in the organization.
Where do yours end up?