A client just asked me about last week’s “listening post strategy” to access Voice of the Customer data and how that is different than a customer support team taking care of customer issues.
Certainly, your customer support team is on the front line taking care of business. These folks are talking to customers every day, taking, changing, or correcting orders. They are keenly listening to their issues and concerns, determining the proper action to address the inquiry or problem, ensuring that corrective action—and, if necessary, preventive action—is taken, and informing the customer of the action taken.
However, customers may also drop casual remarks or hints during these routine transactions that extend beyond the usual record-keeping. The customer may make a comment expressing their delight, ideas, inconvenience, discomfort, or annoyance while working with your company.
In many organizations, because of a lack of intention and lack of a listening post process, the customers’ words fail to reach people in the organization who can address the concerns at a more strategic level. When specific comments are heard consistently, they may offer insights into:
- A different use of the product that you are unaware of
- An improvement to a current process, product, or service
- A problem with product packaging, shipping methods, or billing
- An annoyance from the customer’s perspective such as long wait time, poor parking, or inconvenient business hours
- An undercurrent of displeasure with some feature or aspect of an existing product or service
- Actions of an employee that pleased (or displeased) the customer
- A competitor’s product or service and value for the price
- Potential customer actions that will affect the business such as relocation, hiring/de-hiring employees
The listening post strategy serves as an early warning system for situations that, if not captured and dealt with, could result in major complaints, loss of customers, or a missed opportunity.