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The Power of "Listening" to Your Customer

We are hearing more discussions on the Voice of the Customer including new roles created within corporations focused just on this topic. However, what does it really mean?

As I raise this topic with my clients, I hear different interpretations on what they believe the Voice of the Customer means for their company. The most common definitions are:

  1. Studies capturing Customer preferences, aversions and expectations

  2. Customer feedback surveys

  3. Customer activity and usage, NPS scores

  4. Customer Advisory Boards

All of these are excellent customer data points and provide important insights and trends on customer’s perception of your company, product and services.

I would also add that every element of your customer lifecycle model should have a well-defined voice of the customer feedback loop. These can be collected and documented in variety of ways using various technologies. Each of these areas will have their own trends for each target market that should be tracked quarterly.

However, there is another type of voice of the customer that is important to consider. It is harder to execute consistently, but much richer in content. It’s called “Listening and Understanding” the customer’s business and high value problems.

Let me share this story that will provide a good example. I was working the Enterprise Sales team on a large deal with a new prospect. We were selected as one of the top three to go into the final presentations and bake off. I recommended a slightly different approach in the discover part of the final stage. It was focused on understanding the customer’s business strategy, organizational model, top initiatives, priorities, challenges and expectations. We were able to spend time with a broad set of team members and chart their current state. I was then able to create a more specific and unique roadmap as part of our final presentation to walk them through how we would take them from where they are today to the vision. At the end of our final presentation, the first thing the customer said to us was “You were the only team that listened.”

The point of this story is to help you consider the power of “Listening” to your customer throughout every stage of the customer lifecycle. Incorporate the use of this critical information into your customer data collection plan. It will help you to not just understand the 80/20-rule perspective of your customer, but also capture what is unique, where they are going, what they are planning, and how they are expanding and scaling.

When you “Listen” to your customers you will be able to adjust your roadmaps more appropriately and give your customers the perception that you are with them as a partner, you get them and you are the one company they should stay with and invest in to help them grow and scale.

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