Voice of the Customer: What Your Customers are Really Saying

“Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning”—Bill Gates.

Successful businesses know that hearing and responding to the voice of the customer is imperative in today’s globally competitive marketplace.  Yet while hearing the voice of the customer has never been more important, it has also never been more challenging.  Customers will talk to you, but they will also talk about you—and sometimes they speak loudest when they don’t say anything at all.  A complete customer engagement platform must include methods of listening to all your customers’ different ways of speaking.

Things are simplest when your customers talk directly to you.  7-Eleven President and CEO Joe DePinto recently told students at the University of North Texas that the convenience store industry was launched after a customer’s conversation with the company founder.  According to DePinto, a customer told 7-Eleven founder Joe Thompson that he should sell milk and eggs along with ice.  The company has continued the practice of letting their customer’s voices direct corporate change.  Listening to customers has helped the chain increase efficiency and offer greater value to customers.

Direct input from customers—solicited or unsolicited—has great value, but businesses who aren’t in tune with other ways their customers speak may miss out on important information. Sometimes your customers won’t talk to you. Instead, they’ll talk about you on Facebook, hijack your own Twitter hashtags, or upload songs about you on YouTube.  Businesses need to listen to the voices of their customers on social media—both the fans and the critics—so that they can be on top of trends, communicate consistent messages, and avoid being the next customer service viral meltdown.  Savvy companies will listen to their customers’ and find ways of responding to problems that are only reported to them indirectly.  If you can spin a Twitter complaint into a customer who is impressed that your business took the initiative in addressing his problem, it creates the impression that every customer is valued.  When potential customers see that your company is committed to satisfying every customer, it only helps you grow.

While listening to the voices of your customers is imperative, there are times when taking a hard look behind the scenes may help your company hear your customers’ voices without them ever saying a word.  In a restaurant, it’s the servers and managers who are going to hear complaints, but the kitchen crew may be the first to see situations unfolding that will lead to unhappy customers.  Most complaints for an ecommerce business will go to the customer service department, but it may be IT employees who see a problem in the shopping cart system that is complicating the purchasing process.  Hearing the voice of the customer needs to include an integrated approach in which customer data is assimilated from various sources of data—including behind the scenes employees and processes.  That information needs t o be cross-referenced against the big picture so that problems impacting customer satisfaction can be addressed before the customer has a chance to complain.

Once your company has heard the voice of the customer, you know what you need to do to improve customer satisfaction and keep your customers returning.  Still, clearly hearing your customer’s voices through the multi-media and technological noise can be challenging.  USAN can help.  USAN’s customer engagement platform provides everything your company needs to listen to the voice of the customer and respond in an integrated, optimized, multi-channel approach.  To learn more about how USAN can help your company listen to the voices of your customers, contact us today.