Last week the study, "Customers Say What Companies Don´t Want To Hear" by David Mangen and Richard Lee was published. Their news release listed 11 key findings including:
The presence of a growing gap between customer expectations and company behavior, which creates opportunity for some companies and increasing risk to others.
The only way you can understand your customers´ behaviors is to communicate with them. I´ve heard owners say, "Well, customer service-that´s a given in my company!" That´s true, if you´re talking about mediocre customer service. When was the last time you talked with customers on an ongoing basis? Or asked your employees for feedback? How old are your assumptions anyway? Aren´t times "a changin´?"
Like a good baseball or golf swing, follow through (after the sale) is important. That means constantly seeking feedback from your customers, employees, and perhaps even your vendors and bankers. If management doesn´t continually seek feedback, then it risks exactly the gap mentioned by Mangen and Lee´s study. Management may think they´re customer-centric, but the perception of customers could be totally different.
The news release also stated:
One of the more compelling findings in the study is respondents rating Amazon.com the most customer-centric behaving company and Wal-Mart the least. Wal-Mart has been cited time and again by several (CRM) enterprise application vendors as a shining example of how best to implement a successful supply-chain and CRM methodology.
“Wal-Mart has developed serious customer-relations problems with buyers in the survey base and is in denial about these problems,” Lee said.
Bottom line: Relying on only one feedback method (or worse, on your assumptions) only gives you a snapshot of what those customers thought at that particular time. That´s assuming the method you used was properly designed to give you accurate data. If it was flawed you may be basing future business decisions on ratty data. Using multiple forms of customer and employee feedback allows you to verify your findings and increases the likelihood that top management will know how customers perceive their business and whether employees are following through on management´s expectations.
"What we´ve got here is failure to communicate."
–Captain, Road Prison 36 in the movie, Cool Hand Luke