Getting to know your customers better
Let’s say your company is really good at sales. The team knows who the buyer is, how to reach them, what they care about and close the sale. What happens next? Who is using it? How? What value do they get from it? Are they being well-served?
More and more the customer is charge, their expectations are high and continually changing. Knowing your customer and where they’re headed is the key to making the right product investments.
Creating a Model
When a client asked me to brief their executive team on customer engagement best practices I took it as an opportunity to start formalizing my model for customer engagement. My model combines what I’ve read (see below) and my own experience working with clients in a variety of settings.
This model needs to
- Be focused on creating great digital products
- Avoid the traps of customer engagement and VOC programs
- Be flexible to the company’s needs
- Be easy to start and scale
- Drive measurable business results
I’m still developing this in my work with clients but I would really appreciate input. I don’t take criticism personally, so fire away in the comments or through email.
- Engage with customers
- This is the most important element. If you do nothing else, talk to your customers regularly. Develop the ability to see the world through their eyes. Then survey, track interactions with service staff, prototype and test new ideas and observe customers in their environment.
- Enhance the experience
- All this is nice but it’s worthless if you can act on what you’ve learned. Analysis paralysis will allow current or future customers to slip away.
- Starts with fixing individual features, then products and covers the whole portfolio and all the interaction points with customers.
- Measure and analyze
- As you collect qualitative and quantitative feedback, make your insights easily accessible and understandable by the rest of the organization. Set success measures and track them. Metrics will keep you honest, help you focus your efforts and justify the investment.
- Develop talent
- To drive long-term results you need employees that are committed to understanding and serving customers. This starts with hiring and on-boarding, continues with training and includes performance management (e.g. goals, MBOs, OKRs)
No one wants a big line item on their budget that isn’t contributing to the business. Start small instead.
When I imagine the process, I think of one dot that expands outward to reach the size of a comprehensive program. Interviews and surveys are the best place to start. Then grow in the area that is most needed, expanding out as you build momentum.
So where do you start? Here are some ideas
- Researching, prototyping and testing new products
- Investigating a high priority area for the business or the customer
- Talk to the customers who like you the most and ask why
- Talk to prospects or customers you’ve lost to identify your biggest gaps
- Ask your service team what the biggest complaints are then talk to those people
B2B Customer Experience Blueprint (Accenture)
Customer Experience Defined (Forrester)
Executive Q&A: Voice Of The Customer Programs (Forrester)
How To Build Your Voice Of The Customer Program (Forrester)
Capitalizing on Voice of Customer (Allegiance)
Image: I’ve been sketching occasionally while my baby naps