Let's face it, if you ask customers what features or solutions they want, they can lead you in the wrong direction!
However, the information they can provide is literally priceless when it comes to completing a business transformation charter for your company. Why are their opinions important, you ask? Well, apart from making the customer feel loved by your reaching out to them, it will most certainly help you understand more about their business and how your products and services are helping or hurting them. It will also help you understand how far off of their opinions about product features may be from their true needs. This can then help you market the products appropriately.
Broadly speaking, you can get valuable data directly from the customer through three sources:
- Customer satisfaction surveys
- Voice of customer (VOC)
- Social media
1. Customer Satisfaction Surveys
Most companies conduct customer satisfaction surveys on a regular basis, either after the sale or on a periodic basis. The data you get here for the most part is "reactive" by nature – meaning the customers are giving feedback on existing products or services on a post sale basis. Customer satisfaction surveys is something that the organization should be doing in the normal course of business (to spot check existing products and new product launch results), and are usually designed to address how well you are doing the things you were typically expected to do.
2. Voice of the Customer (VOC)
To fully acknowledge the level of transformation the organization is undergoing, it is critical to have the VOCs that validate the customer insights you gather. Also, the voice of customer information will help you proactively identify specifically that which is not working so well – perhaps long shipping cycles or poor customer service, etc. The idea is not to respond to customer complaints after the fact, but instead to be proactive and constantly innovate, so as to cater to the changing requirements of the customers with time. VOCs can be conducted through a formal, structured approach or through an unstructured, informal (ad-hoc) approach.
3. Social Media
With all the talk of high-tech data-gathering and social networking that's being added about these days, it can be easy to jump on the bandwagon of what is now referred to as "social media", i.e. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, et al.
Social media can and should be leverage to engage everyone in your "business echosystem". This, however, can be achieved only after businesses are able to better control/manage the information flow. A good example of where companies can leverage social media is in the area of product design and development. Social media is a way to proactively interact with customers and gather their opinion.
Regardless of how you get it, or even where you find it, information is power. All the information you gather means nothing, however, if you do not analyze the information and take appropriate actions based on it. Learn more on Hearing the Voice of the Customer (VOC) through your Sales Channel.
Author: Mahesh Rao