SPIF Tip #13: Are You Using the Voice of Customer You Already Have?
Imagine you’re the owner of a small chain of movie theatres and are going on a well-deserved vacation to a remote island in the South Pacific. You will have no Internet access, so you’ll only be able to get a very limited amount of information every day from your staff. What information should they prepare for you? Take a moment and write down your answers.
Typically, people respond with items like these:
- Daily ticket sales
- Concession sales
- Sales by movie title
- Costs and expenses
- Absent employees
Now, let’s switch the points of view. Imagine you’re the head of a household with a spouse and three children between the ages of four and ten, and you want to take your family out to a movie. What are you most concerned about as you decide which theatre you’ll visit? Again, take a moment to write down your answers. Typically, people respond with items like these:
- Which movies are showing that my family wants to see?
- Which theatres are showing these movies, and at what times?
- What are the theatre amenities, for example comfortable seats, clean rest rooms, non-sticky floors?
- What are the ticket prices?
- How challenging are the traffic, parking, ticket buying, and other logistics?
Notice the differences between the two lists?
- The theatre owner is interested in his financial well-being.
- The theatre customer is interested in his family’s personal enjoyment.
As this exercise points out, the strong human tendency to be preoccupied with our own self-interests creates a disconnect between companies and their customers (as illustrated in Figure 2-3 in Chapter 2). Unless specific actions are taken, this preoccupation can hamper the ability of a business to maximize its own self-interest in the form of its financial results. It is the customer’s self-interest — and the customer’s perception of value — that determine what the business must do to make money. Therefore, a reliable mechanism for learning what the customer values must be built into the business, and business strategies must reflect what the customer values. Likewise, management must place a high priority on understanding and responding to the customer’s perception of value.
What VOC does your company have? One great way to find out is simply to make a list. Go around to the department heads of marketing, sales, service, product management, etc., and ask them what information they gather about customers, and write it down. Next, how is this information being used today?
Chances are it isn’t being used well, if at all. Voilá! That might be an excellent improvement opportunity. Then, ask “Why aren’t we using this kind of information more broadly?”
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