Create Accountability for Voice of the Customer
Monday, July 16, 2007
Our experience working with companies of all sizes and in multiple industries tells us that when companies neglect having a separate budget line for voice of the customer, when controls and methods, guiding principles and accountability are lacking, and when insights are not gathered holistically from the customers’ point of view, then money spent on gathering customer insight is a cost, not an investment. It is flushed down the proverbial drain each and every year.
See my previous blog which discussed how to retool your customer listening from the customer point of view. However, knowing how to structure your customer listening is not enough. You must have a master budget and build accountability to the budget in the areas of customer retention, repurchase, and referrability.
If you want to become a truly customer-centric company, if you want to be able to measurably tie corporate actions and decisions to customer insight and back to what matters most – investing every dime in growth and keeping your team focused on the dials that create value – you will also need to institute methods, controls and accountability around the dollars your company spends on gathering and leveraging customer insight.
Start by asking yourself, who on your management team is staying up at night when a customer defects, does not renew or only buys in piecemeal? Who’s on the frontline when a customer de-positions your company or detracts from its brand with negative word of mouth? You already know that sales to existing customers are faster and more profitable. Retained customers not only contribute to growth; they co-invent and co-innovate. Your very reputation and ability to enter accounts, let alone new markets, is contingent upon the building a foundation of credible customer advocates.
To drive the correct investment and organizational behavior, retool your budget so that there is a master line item coupled with centralized ownership for capturing voice of the customer. Make voice of the customer a corporate versus a departmentally driven mandate. The net is that if voice of the customer is to make a difference in retention, repurchase and referrability –the three essential, revenue-driving customer metrics, it needs a formal line item in the budget with executive ownership and accountability across the management chain.
David Ambler, Vice President of Client Services David.Ambler@phelongroup.com