This is a Voice of the Customer Cluster You-Know-What


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A 15-person conference call to discuss your Voice of the Customer (VoC) program is a great example of a cluster you-know-what. Have you been on a conference call that is supposed to let all the departments weigh in on collective issues about the VoC customer program that turns into 90 minutes of your life you’ll never get back? Do you ever get anything accomplished with the management by consensus plan? When did our professional lives change from an army of forward-thinking leaders into a stagnant committee of followers? Are people getting too politically correct? Is there even such a thing?

I was sad to hear that Margaret Thatcher died because the world has lost much needed common-sense wisdom that we need to apply to the customer experience world. She once said, “Do you know that one of the great problems of our age is that we are governed by people who care more about feelings than they do about thoughts and ideas.” In my conference call example, instead of getting to the issue at hand and working to solve it to create a better customer experience, little was accomplished in deference to everyone’s feelings and lack of leadership. The irony is that we are in the business of customer experience and we can’t get past our feelings about one another to actually generate better service-oriented ideas for our customers. These calls and meetings waste time, money and energy that could so clearly be invested in our customers.

At its simplest form, customer experience is the total experiences a customer has with a brand over the lifetime of their relationship. And those experiences, good and bad, determine the course of an organization. Our job is to ensure those customer experiences are as positive as possible in order to propel businesses forward, much like Thatcher’s role was to positively affect the domestic affairs for the people (aka customers) of the United Kingdom. It takes a strong leader to take on the public in this way and you have to be decisive when you’re dealing with customers or constituents alike. I doubt very seriously Thatcher was worried about making friends while she was changing history. In fact she said, “If you just set out to be liked, you would be prepared to compromise on anything at any time, and you would achieve nothing.” If we had a Margaret Thatcher on the conference call- better yet, leading the call – there wouldn’t be another one scheduled for next week.

We know that we must be a strong leader and that leading by consensus is usually a futile effort, so let’s talk about the “hard sells”. You know these types. They agree with you on the conference call that there is indeed an issue with the VoC program but they say it can’t be fixed because XYZ department will get their feathers ruffled. The truth is that sometimes you have to ruffle feathers because not everyone is right all the time. If the questions in your post-call IVR survey need to be re-written because they aren’t customer experience-focused enough, your market research group might get upset. They need to get over hurt feelings particularly when your customer experience scores improve from the analysis that can now be conducted – and USED to manage behavior. If you can’t summon the courage to speak your mind, remember these words from Miss Margaret, “When I’m out of politics I’m going to run a business, it’ll be called rent-a-spine.”

Unless you exhibit your spine, you will likely sit through mind-numbing 15-person conference calls for the rest of your career ostensibly accomplishing little. In order to be the decisive leader you want to be – that your team needs for you to be – you will have to fight to make your points, ruffle a few feathers and even chance a few work friendships all in the name of better customer experience. But this is not wrong and you shouldn’t feel as if it is bad. Significant leaders were not the appeasers of men and women.

“You may have to fight a battle more than once to win it.” – Margaret Thatcher

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Jodie Monger
Jodie Monger, Ph.D. is the president of Customer Relationship Metrics (CRM) and a pioneer in business intelligence for the contact center industry. Dr. Jodie's work at CRM focuses on converting unstructured data into structured data for business action. Her research areas include customer experience, speech and operational analytics. Before founding CRM, she was the founding associate director of Purdue University's Center for Customer-Driven Quality.


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