Customer-centricity starts by listening to the customer. But in many organisations it seems that the further you get away from the customer (research) department, the less people actually listen.

Looking at the way some customer voice data gets presented, I can’t really blame the tune-outs. Let’s face it, you have to be a certain type of person to get excited by a 30-slide research agency presentation with a multi-variate analysis of the reasons why 24.5% of the customer base is moderately satisfied. Not to mention to deal with the often overly detailed customer dashboards which - to the uninitiated - look like a colourful version of NASA mission control.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not challenging the importance of thorough analysis, dashboards or even bar-charts. What I am saying is that, while these may be interesting to customer geeks like myself (and you?), they may not be that interesting or relevant to others.

How to interest your colleagues in the customer voice.

To truly get people to listen to the customer voice, I propose that a special effort should always be made to present in a way that’s engaging. This means:

1. Bringing customer data to life with stories

Knowing that 14% of customers for a given telco operator get bill-shock when seeing their roaming charges, will get one type of reaction from your colleagues. Hearing the story of a father who - faced with (incorrect) roaming charges - was unable to buy his kids new school clothes when coming back from holidays, will hit much closer to home. Especially when realising that it was the telco’s automated direct debit scheme which had left him penniless. Going even further and letting the father tell this story himself, will make the room go silent.

While analytics are important, it’s the real customer stories - good and bad - that will move your colleagues to action. People care about people, not about data (and yes, there are plenty of scientific research charts to prove this :-)

2. Presenting customer data as a call to action

Even with emotional engagement, your colleagues may not see how they can contribute. After all, organisations are silos and customer feedback usually doesn’t neatly fit into a job description or a set of department KPI’s. Not to mention that while people around you may be great at their job, they may not be trained in the interpretation of customer data.

You can resolve this by always presenting customer data as a call to action. Describe what needs to happen in terms and challenges that directly connect to people’s jobs, departments and KPIs. If multiple departments are required to make something happen, get them all in one room. Then present your findings in a way that makes it clear that - collectively - they own 100% of the problem.

3. Looking beyond the bad news

In many organisations there is a tendency to focus customer related communication on the things that are wrong. Sure, this may drive continuous improvement. But it also turns the customer into that annoying teacher who keeps pointing out the mistakes you made, but never says you did a good job.

To keep caring, your colleagues need to feel that their efforts are appreciated. Not just by the business, but also by the customers. That’s why any customer voice presentation should always include at least a few success stories where the business got it right. Either by fixing a wrong or by doing something delightful.

Doing the above is no magic potion for customer-centricity. But it will make sure that next time someone comes to present the customer’s voice, people will listen.

If you would like to know more about the topic of customer-centricity: get in touch, ask my colleagues at Futurelab, check out my book "So You Want To Be Customer-Centric?" or join the Linkedin group by the same name.

 

The original post was published in 2015 on our blog.