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What It Really Takes to "Put the Customer First"

OCEM 3 Long

We’ve all heard the promises — companies promising to “put customers first.” Many have the best of intentions, but that means very little if the infrastructure to actually deliver isn’t in place.
If you really want to prioritize the customer, you need to get the right information about your customers to the right hands inside your organization.
We’ve discussed before that, in order to improve your customer experience and make it a powerful business driver, it’s important to see how you’re performing in the eyes of the customer. Some companies are doing a better job of this than others. But even for the leaders, think about who in the company usually has responsibility for customer data: it’s usually a small, centralized team the insights team or a market research team.
It would be nice to think that these teams are equipped to get the information out the frontline in a timely and relevant fashion. But as most anyone who’s seen this system in action would be able to attest, this isn’t always the case. Too often, what happens is that a big report gets sent out that tries to be “one size fits all” — varying from irrelevant, all the way to simply overwhelming.
The end result? The organization keeps doing business as usual. Or worse still: the lack of concise, targeted insights being disseminated across your organization leads to various leaders forming very disparate views of what customers are saying — and what actions should subsequently be taken as a result.
For a company to truly wire customers into every decision, they need to first separate the signal from the noise in their data and then make sure everyone across the organization is on the same page. Once data is collected from customers — whether it’s feedback, behavioral data, or otherwise — it needs to be parsed in such a way that makes it relevant and actionable to all the different actors inside a company. This means outputs need to be delivered to individuals in a way that’s tailored to their specific roles and goals. It needs to be easy for them to understand what’s going well, where there’s room for improvement, and how to start conceiving the innovations of the future.
It needs to be about them. About their jobs. About their performance.
It’s not easy to get there. But once you do, individuals will naturally want to pull the data into their jobs. And there’s mounting evidence that, the more this “pulling” happens, the greater the impact. For example, a recent study of over 200 Medallia customer experience programs found a significant positive relationship between the number of employees accessing customer feedback data and a program’s NPS. The same positive connection was found in 65 B2C programs — between the number of front line users of customer feedback and a program’s NPS improvement year over year¹.
Getting information into the right hands has even been found to impact business results. When you wire customers into every decision, you’re able to finally walk the talk of customer-centricity. Every employee in your organization will know what needs to be done to improve the customer experience, and they can make smart, coordinated decisions to make those improvements happen.

¹Source: Medallia Benchmark study 2012 & 2013
Photo Credit: Sean Hobson

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