The hills are alive with the sound of… the Voice of the Customer!

Remember the memorable camera shot at the beginning of the Julie Andrews movie, “The Sound of Music”? This 1965 classic begins with an aerial shot of the Austrian Alps and pans in on Ms. Andrews, who exuberantly croons the memorable, “The hills are alive…!”

At the risk of mistreating a metaphor, one could say that the marketplace is alive with the voice of the customer. It’s up there and out there. If you’re not hearing it, it’s because you’re not listening. Your customers are not necessarily speaking out loud, but – like the movie’s Von Trapp family, who voted against fascism with their feet – customers are voting with their pocketbooks and exercising their right to choose from the enormous number of competing products and services.

The importance of the good customer experience

Assuming that you market a quality product or service at a competitive price, your main job is promoting loyalty to your brand (or access to a brand).  Ask satisfied customers why they like doing business with you and why they keep coming back, and you’ll hear different details that all amount to the same idea: They had a good experience with you. They feel comfortable and you meet their needs.

Think about it: Aren’t most of your own good memories all about how an experience made you feel?  It’s the same with nurturing customer loyalty and return visits. It is intuitively obvious, then, that there is a strong correlation between customer loyalty and the customer experience.

One report by Forrester Research came up with the following (again, rather intuitively obvious) findings and statistical deductions:

  • There is a definite correlation between customer experience and future business.
  • Their research “reconfirmed the strong correlation between how customers rate their experience with the company and their likelihood to recommend that firm to a friend or colleague…”
  • Better customer experience “can be worth millions” in annual revenue!

(The above points might sound as if they belong in the “duh!” category. However, demonstrating something obvious through a statistical model has the advantage of adding credibility to conventional wisdom – which, by the way, is sometimes demonstrably wrong.)

Hearing the voice, or “what customers want”

What customers want from you depends on the product or service you provide. Look at it as a classic application of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Your customers’ experience with you must fill some appropriate level of need in a manner that, as a minimum, results in feelings of satisfaction, but better yet accompanied by the  “warm and fuzzies,” and never, ever with the “cold and gritties.”

So it is most important to tune into the customer’s voice and correlate the need your product fulfills with the array of choices the customer has. If the customer keeps returning, it’s all about the experience. The distaff side of that is that the behavior of a customer who has had a bad experience is miming, “Read my lips…”

USAN has the key to achieving remarkable customer service experiences. Contact us and download our white paper that has the best advice on making the customer’s voice the center of your customer-oriented culture. We have the tools that help you do all that, too.