Invest Frontline Time to Learn Customer Truths
Research from Bain & Company shows that 80% of company executives believe their company delivers outstanding value and superior customer service. But only a staggering 8% of customers agree with those company execs, revealing a great disconnect between what those leaders think versus what they truly know. So to learn first-hand what is really going on with your customers — and what they actually think about your products and services — get on the frontline and find out. Interacting with your customers in person, on the phone, or through another means of communication captures an unfiltered picture of your customer’s actual experience with your organization. The information collected can support strategies for improving the overall customer experience. Meanwhile, this proactive approach to discovery demonstrates your leadership and commitment to excellent customer service.
Here are some specific ways to do this:
Listen in on customer-service calls. The best way to find out what your customers are really going through is to hear it for yourself. Why? Because the truth often gets lost or tainted as it travels up through the ranks, and the emotion or severity of issues can become distorted when they’re finally presented to you. So bust through all that, taking a tip from the show, Undercover Boss, and spend a whole day listening in on calls. Really hear what your customers think and feel, as well as how your frontline employees are handling their needs and concerns.
Get feedback from your frontline employees. Soliciting in-the-trenches feedback is another “must” if you want to learn what customers are regularly communicating. While listening in on customer-service calls might give you a general impression or a snapshot of what needs to be addressed or improved, talking to employees who work on the frontlines can provide a broader or more detailed picture, depending on the questions you ask. Make a point to connect with these frontliners, involve them in this practice of discovery, get solid answers, ask them for suggested solutions, implement the best solutions, and reward employees for their contribution to success and improvements. After all, they know best what’s working and what’s not, and they likely have ideas on how to work out any kinks.
Call and ask customers WHY they’ve quit your business. Whether you call them yourself, assign this task to a few direct reports, or hire a firm to do an official “quit study,” make this out-of-the-norm effort to discover what’s making people “quit” your company or business. Information may be attained either anonymously, or you may want to get names from those you’re interviewing and follow-up with a focus group for even more insight.
What are the elements to an effective customer service survey?