Before you commit to too many changes, ask yourself and your peers: What stories are our customers telling us? Have we listened to customer feedback recently?
Embed customer listening into your company’s DNA to ensure transformation efforts are focused on their needs. Prioritising where to ignite change first begins with understanding the top needs of each customer persona. Here are some of the best practices Salesforce follows, and key actions to build trust:
1. Create a voice-of-the-customer function and invest in listening at every level. Get feedback from customers to establish a baseline and set a single improvement goal as your starting point. Ideally your organisation has both business-focused research leaders and a neutral reporting structure. That way, the team responsible for delivering improvements isn’t also keeping score.
Target all personas in your ecosystem. Which customer groups experience the most pain? Which ones drive the most revenue? Who are your greatest brand advocates? Then, use listening techniques like interviews and surveys to capture insights and digital trends for designing your vision. Welcome feedback at every step; don’t fear it. Listening is the new marketing.
Companies need to know what customers are saying, doing, and feeling across all touchpoints with the company, whether in-store, online, at home, or on the phone. Add omnichannel sensitivity to understand your customers and markets, and apply intelligence to help you anticipate future needs.
2. Integrate insights into one narrative. Tell one story behind the numbers. Just as you want to balance your listening across channels, you want to balance your data with a story. Listening tours, advisory boards, and focus groups bring color and context to scorecards and trendlines.
Integrate customers into strategic planning, and assign an accountable owner to each metric or measurement that stems from what you learned when listening. For example, does the executive team plan future products or programs at an offsite or every Monday morning? Wherever planning takes place, save a seat at the table for the customer’s voice. And include employees and partners in the design and execution of new experiences to leverage different perspectives, especially from those on the front line, closest to your customers.
3. Invest in intelligence and automation to aid accountability. Automating analysis and reporting saves your team valuable time. A sensing tool or machine, layered on top of your qualitative feedback, is one of the most effective ways to unlock insights.
4. Inspire a listening movement and psychological safety among employees. Sometimes the team sharing customer feedback is perceived as the bad news team. Instead, motivate your team and your stakeholders to stay engaged and keep acting on customers’ needs by recognising results and rewarding teams that become listening champions.
Build trust with your employees by giving teams the freedom to experiment and learn, and ensure everyone feels safe to offer criticism and share what’s not working. Building trust with your employees translates into your employees building trust with your customers.
5. Close the loop. Listening means you need to communicate. You won’t be able to take action on every piece of feedback, and customers don’t expect you to do everything they ask. But they do expect to hear back from you on what you are doing, what you’re not able to do, and what else you need from them for a successful partnership. Unite your marketing, sales, commerce, service, and IT teams to actually hear what customers say and make changes based on that information.