Change is constant — In your CX program too!
One week after a grueling American presidential election, one thing is for sure: change is constant. For good or for bad, and regardless of our various view points, one common truth persists: the winds of change never stop blowing.
This holds true for everything in life — and in business. Clinging onto a “same old, same old” mentality will (more times than not) leave you in the dust. At certain points, we have to ask ourselves: “Is it time to reconsider?”
So how does this apply in your customer feedback and experience program? Are you clinging to the old ways or willing to evolve forward into perhaps uncharted territory? Here are some pointers to make sure you continue to go with the flow and evolve for the betterment of your organization (no matter how scary that seems).
Stay real, relevant, and respectful of customers’ changing needs by reminding yourself of these truisms:
1. You don’t know what you don’t know. So keep changing and listening! One sure way to stay stuck in old ways is to assume that you know what your customers think based on past feedback. Stay fresh and tuned in by going beyond basic relationship surveys to continually verify if customers are satisfied with your products and services. Create transactional surveys to be delivered after key interactions (e.g. sale, service, call, etc.) to dig into how customers feel and reassess them regularly to make sure they’re still pertinent. Remember that for every customer who complains, there are 26 unhappy customers who never let you know their concerns (White House Office of Consumer Affairs). These people often choose instead to tell their colleagues, friends, and family not to do business with you.
2. Reckon with your vulnerability. Every company would like to think it’s utterly irreplaceable in the minds of its customers. However, according to Bill Taylor, founding editor of Fast Company: “If your customers can live without you, eventually they will.” What’s shocking is how many companies will dig in their heels and insist on business-as-usual for as long as possible before they have to change. Remember telecom companies who didn’t want to offer mobile service? Remember the last Block Buster video store in your neighborhood? In the end, supply and demand always wins. And, beyond legacy products / industries, even if you offer something that people still want, the more companies that offer it, the more replaceable you are, and the less noticed your absence will be. The lesson is to stay vibrant, evolving, and listening (via surveys and other feedback channels) to not guess but KNOW that your customers want what you’re selling in the way that you’re selling it.
3. You’re not the only ones telling your story. Gone are the Madmen days of crafting a clever and compelling marketing message and selling it to the world. Now, review sites and social media are likely louder than your own voice, so the ripple effects of negative customer experiences run way outside of your control. This is one of the best reasons to stay out of a rut and to avoid “set ways” of doing things (i.e. “Why? Because it’s what we’ve always done”). This doesn’t work in the era of crowd-sourcing and social media. You’re not the only ones telling your story! As Journalist David Pogue wrote in Scientific American, “The rise of the citizen review site is a sobering development. No longer are you on top of the mountain, blasting your marketing message down to the masses through your megaphone. All of a sudden, the masses are conversing with one another. If your service or product isn’t any good, they’ll out you.” So ask, ask, ask your customers for feedback before they go telling their version of your story in the public realm!
4. Keep calm and change on. Remember that while change may be difficult, not changing is fatal. If your organization can shift its paradigm to perceiving change as good, then you may even have some fun and learn new things as you try new things. And, if you’re not sure what direction to go, remember that your customers are your best resource. As Jeannie Walters reminded us recently on the Clicktools blog, ask your best customers for their best ideas. In addition to listening on review sites, social media, and via your own surveys, don’t hesitate to contact and/or visit top customers for the sole purpose of asking if there’s something on the horizon that they want (that you may or may not be aware of). There are gems out there that could be the next big thing for your company. The key is to keep mining for them and to never believe that there’s nothing new to discover.