8 Steps to Help De-clutter and Re-think Your Customer Listening

8 Steps to Help De-clutter and Re-think Your Customer Listening

Spring is finally here, and you know what that means… spring cleaning! Just like that full-to-the-brim closet you’ve been ignoring, the customer listening data you’ve collected can pile up until it’s more a nuisance than it is informative. By this point, you have no idea what it really contains. Let’s talk about de-cluttering your customer listening!

How can we toss the old to make room for the new? It’s time to take inventory of the data you’ve collected from your various internal listening mechanisms. You have to make tough decisions about what to keep, and organize the things you decide are still useful. This can be an overwhelming task, but it’s one that’s absolutely necessary as you continue your customer-driven work. What’s the point of collecting data if you never take the time to analyze it and apply your findings?

I’ve put together 8 actions that I use with my clients to clarify what a one-company listening path could look like. These actions also help you and how they should efficiently use the customer listening information they gather, to avoid clutter in the future.

8 Steps to De-Clutter Your Customer Listening Data

  1. Inventory the volume and schedule of all surveys being sent. This can be a painful process, but it is also necessary. Find all of the surveys being sent from marketing, call centers, product development, partners, and so on. In every silo’s pursuit of becoming customer centric, the cumulative effect may be causing survey fatigue and frustration to your customers who are receiving them. Take an inventory of all the surveys that go out to customers, when and why. This action is always one of the first actions we take as we build a listening path for a company. Many well-intentioned survey efforts are siloed for the purpose of finding out how a product or campaign went over, or another question that needs to be answered. These are often done separately from one another, and are not usually guided by the customer journey to manage timing or prevent survey fatigue. Put in checks and balances to survey for the right reason, at the right time as one-company.

  2. Organize all surveys by stage of the customer journey in which the customer receives it. Even a basic set of journey stages is okay here. What you need to see is where there is surveying overlap and, most important, you need to see what your customer sees and experiences.

  3. Examine the methodology for the various surveys. Align to a one-company methodology. Do you have any surveys that have been building for years, with questions being added here and there from interested parties? I call these the kitchen-sink surveys because they have so many questions that have been bolted on over the years. Are the scales for the surveys consistent? Are some measuring customer satisfaction, some measuring customer effort scores, and some measuring NPS?

  4. Know the options available to gain customer insight in addition to customer surveys. For example, is “humanizing” research part of your effort to understand customers’ lives? Human-centered design starts with understanding the motivations and emotions that customers are experiencing. This means watching customers in their natural environment using your products or trying to accomplish tasks that your business can assist them with. This customer observation leads to the identification and understanding of moments where you need to be deliberate and deliver a reliable experience for customers they may not be able to articulate. These also provide powerful cultural artifacts in videotape footage that can be used in your customer room (Competency 5), with work teams, and in your communication to the organization about customers’ lives.

  5. Evaluate your ability to practice fearless listening. I’m sure you have things that you find move people to action faster than others. Besides having leaders call lost customers, we also hold fearless listening with groups of ten to fifteen customers and company leaders participating in the conversation. They sit at the table with customers and talk to them face-to-face. We traverse the customer journey and ask three things for every stage: how is it going, how does it make them feel, and what would help them to meet their need in each stage? We coach leaders to be a part of the conversation by asking only clarifying questions. Leaders’ connection to customers change when they are involved in these fearless conversations. The memory of the customers’ voices begins to stick with them; it gives them a narrative when they speak to their teams and guide the work.

  6. Find your most recent primary research. When was it last completed? Customer needs are shifting as rapidly as new phones are released. Millennial customers have constantly changing needs and habits. Social media and technology have changed how customers make buying decisions. When was the last time that you conducted primary research to understand shifting customer trends that impact who they are, what they buy, and what motivates them? Staying relevant to customers’ lives is crucial to growth.

  7. Grade how reliably you tell customers what you did with the feedback they provided. Just as it is important to market hope to coworkers to inform them of actions taken to improve customer experiences and get rid of roadblocks in their jobs, it’s of equal importance to tell customers how you’ve honored and heeded their feedback. Do you do this reliably? Customers need hope that their feedback is not sent in vain. And consider hearing something in return, a gesture of respect. If they take the time to give feedback and never hear back… well, you already know the answer to that.

  8. Make a hard decision. Can you stop asking and act on what you already know? One of my clients had been sending out a 32-question survey for over five years. The same issues came up repeatedly yet they kept fielding the survey. In our retooling of their listening path, we stopped completely so we could work on what they already knew were priorities. Not one customer asked to be surveyed in that one-year period. Instead, we started to market back actions taken to improve their experience. That customers did notice.

Now I want you to ask yourself, what de-cluttering actions to do you see your organization taking right away? How will these suggestions guide you in gathering and organizing customer listening data in the future? Will you then be able to take the designated time to act on what you already know? Share your thoughts or current process with me in the comments!

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