I recently wrote an—unintended to be, but maybe could be construed as, snarky—article about not doing VoC anymore. The upshot was that, anything you put into your VoC program is wasted time, money, and effort if you’re not doing stuff with the insights you get out of it.
You may say maybe I’m not interested in what Customers have to say, but that’s not at all what I meant. In fact, in some of the ensuing chatter in which I’ve participated since then, I recalled an incident from last year that I still look back on and smile about. It highlights the importance of, if not exactly humility, at least a sense of curiosity when it comes to Customer insights, and an acknowledgement that you don’t always know everything you think you know about your Customers and their preferences.
Someone posted an article about how a supermarket somewhere in Europe had created a checkout lane that deliberately runs slower. Now, that’s not the whole story…it’s meant for shoppers who enjoy chatting up the cashier and taking it easy (and slowly) as they check out their groceries.
Or, as I thought at the time, just go ahead and jab me through the eye with that icepick.
Now, it should come as no surprise to anybody who grew up in the 80s, but in case you were unaware, the world don’t move to the beat of just one drum, and as it happens, what might be right for you may not be right for some. (I heard that somewhere.) Sure, just as the world goes ’round, different (or perhaps diff’rent) people have their own preferences. But c’mon, I thought, who on earth could possibly want that process to last longer?
Well, I soon learned who: The overwhelming majority of those who responded to that post, it turns out.
Of course, statistically speaking one oughtn’t read too much into the anecdotal responses on a LinkedIn post…self-reporting, inherent biases, and not to mention, those who might be inclined to want to chat up the cashier and thus spend more time in line are probably pretty closely tracked by those who might scroll through LinkedIn and leave their opinions on such a story. But still, there’s clearly a market out there for this sort of thing.
And that’s where we get to VoC and Customer Insights and listening with the goal to learn about what our Customers want. Just because you find something not only undesirable, but even offensive doesn’t mean that’s not what your Customers will think about it. I don’t know (the brand was new to me, having not shopped much in Europe myself anyway), but I imagine this supermarket chain did extensive research on what their Customers and what the market was looking for in their checkout experience. And, in fairness, they weren’t converting all of their checkout lanes to this new model, rather simply giving the option. Also, that option actually offers speed-demons and impatient shoppers such as me the chance to potentially get through the process faster, as long as lollygaggers are aware and take advantage of their separate lane…fewer of them in our lane, and such.
But still, would I have ever thought of this? Would you?
Sometimes our own biases cloud our ability not only to understand what (at least some segments of) our Customers want, but actively get in the way of our even being curious enough about it in the first place. Checkout at the grocery store should be fast, convenient, and accurate. That’s all I have to say about that.
But the Customers? They have so much more to say, and if we’re not listening to them, we may miss fantastic opportunities to better serve them.