The Voice of the Customer should guide all strategy and choices. Meeting and exceeding customer requirements becomes the glue that brings the functional work together.
Seek first to understand
It starts with asking your customers questions about what is important to them, and really listening to their answers. Expectations change – services that used to provide a competitive advantage are quickly becoming the price of entry. Customers are trying to differentiate themselves – while reliability used to be most important, unique product offerings may be what they value most today. We have a proven survey methodology that turns customer input into data, and the data into stories that resonate with every member of your organization, motivating them to collectively meet – or exceed – customer expectations.
Rally around the customer
Once you know what the customers want, you can segment them and see how you stack up in meeting those needs. Then, you need to spread the word within your organization. The best way to get your organization externally focused is to share customer input, in their own words. And we mean share it with everyone! From the people loading the trucks, to those planning production, to the executive suite – people need to know. We use quotes and audio to bring the voice of the customer to life.
Make it count
Sustaining customer focus as a priority across the entire organization is dependent on having the right customer facing metrics that cross functional boundaries. If everyone owns a customer service metric, like shipped on time/in full, then everyone pulls together to make it happen. Combine this with a system that can code root causes – now people have ownership of a higher level measure in addition to the specific service metric they work to deliver. It takes a village!
Make it real
It is one thing to talk about what the customer needs; it is another thing to experience it first-hand. We take teams – executive teams, sales teams, multi-functional teams – right into the action. Walking the value chain from your site, through the transportation chain, to the customer’s distribution center helps you see the handoffs and understand vulnerabilities. Even more eye opening is following the order from the back door of the store, through the dock/storage room, and onto the shelf. A lot can go wrong in those last 100 feet. When you see the real world, you know how to package and mark your product so it makes it to the selling floor on time and in pristine condition.
Start at the top
First you need to educate yourself. Get out there and learn from the customer. Once you make a commitment to put the customer first – by doing surveys, having customer facing metrics, walking the value chain – you have the right to stand in front of your troops and make it a strategic imperative. Share the information. Share the numbers. Share the stories. Gathering and sharing this knowledge widely will result in the customer voice being imbedded into every aspect of your company.
Talk to them…
While you should have a constant open dialogue with your customers, it is also important to have a regular survey done externally. Why externally? Because you want the message to come through without bias, and that’s hard to do when it’s you they are talking about. We ask questions about the importance of each service attribute to your customer and how well they think you are doing. This combination tells you the true value drivers you should focus on.
Give them a common goal
A silo mentality starts at the top. It comes from functional metrics and functional reward systems. To move past the functional finger-pointing you need to have high level customer metrics that you hold every function accountable to deliver. We can help you determine the right metrics and set up results reporting and gap analysis to drive the improvements – across functions.