Structuring Your Customer Listening Posts
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
Many companies launch annual or quarterly satisfaction surveys to measure their customer loyalty and satisfaction and call it a day. It is no surprise that no meaningful action comes from these sorts of satisfaction surveys.
If you truly want to uncover the levers and dials that you can control to drive customer retention, repurchase and referrability, you must restructure the way you dialog with your customers.
Customer ‘listening’ should happen when it matters to customers, not just at the usual quarterly or annual markers. We recommend launching ‘listening-posts’ across a cross-functionally defined customer lifecycle –- at specific events and at lifecycle milestones.
Using event-based listening, you query customers at various key stages of the lifecycle. For example, you might launch a listening post at the point the sale of a product or service was completed, and another 30 days after implementation. This lets you, over time, compare all customers at point ‘x’ in the lifecycle to see where problems or opportunities may lie.
Questions are limited and targeted; you know who said what and can analyze answers within an account-specific context. Instead of a sampling, which is what old survey methods deliver (and why they fail), you get a census of all your key accounts and can know immediately if something is wrong so that you can act to fix it. And, you can quickly close the loop with unhappy respondents – sometimes just a simple call lets them know you’re listening and you care about their success. The important aspect is that you must be ready to take action and close the loop. Asking for insights or feedback if you are not prepared to act on the results will only create more detractors.
This simple restructuring around listening at key stages of the customer lifecycle gives you the real insights needed to drive action that leverages stronger customer relationships and has impact on the three pillars of customer retention, repurchase and referrability.
David Ambler, Vice President of Client Services David.Ambler@phelongroup.com