There are a variety of approaches to hearing the Voice of the Customer and using the information we gather to, hopefully, increase customer satisfaction.
While simply gathering this data guarantees nothing, it’s vitally important because we can know all there is to know about our internal processes and still not know enough about them to increase client satisfaction.
For this sort of challenge we need additional tools and methods, a few of which include:
Customer Surveys are a staple for measuring and possibly surfacing areas for improvement. A popular tool for measuring customer satisfaction is the Net Promoter Score (NPS), which typically takes the form of a single survey question asking respondents to rate the likelihood that they would recommend a company, product, or a service to a friend or colleague on a scale of 0-10. “Promoters” are defined as those giving a 9 or 10 answer, and “Detractors” are those giving an answer of 6 or below. The NPS score is determined by subtracting the percentage of detractors from the percentage of promoters.
Studying variation in the NPS by area, customer type, and over time can help pinpoint trouble spots that are impacting customer satisfaction.
Analyzing customer Complaint Logs can help identify and address the problems that customers have identified and shared, but this is a bare minimum in the effort to increase customer satisfaction. The Complaint Log is a place to seek information about where we are falling short on what is often called “Must-Be Quality.”
The absence of the quality dissatisfies even though the presence in itself will not please the customers because it is assumed. Addressing gaps in the Must-Be Quality can lift one out of the hole, but will never lift customer satisfaction any further. To effectively increase customer satisfaction, we need to create and deliver work that will delight the customers.
One client described his method as the Ambassador Visit: “I go to meet with the customer, I say thank you for your business, and then I shut up. And listen.” Providing a good forum and opportunity for the customer to express what they like and don’t like is very useful.
What’s more, the Ambassador Visit provides a forum to discuss what the customers see coming down the road, so we can proactively anticipate and address their needs.
Another client finds tremendous value in visiting clients as they work with the product — meeting them in the field to watch, listen, and study the customer’s challenges and how the product currently helps them — and how it could help them if something were to be changed. This approach, sometimes called Contextual Inquiry, provides value in understanding what is truly working as expected for the customers and how we can solve problems for the customers that they did not even think to mention.
Whichever method one might use, the key is to keep communication flowing and to be proactive in continually improving processes and measuring the degree to which customers are delighted!