Do you know what your customer wants or needs? Or do you just think you do.
Have you ever come across a customer-oriented initiative where the people around the table assured everyone that they understood the customer well enough to provide the customer perspective? The insurer skips the step of actually contacting customers to find out what they think or want because the step is perceived as too time consuming or expensive. Inevitably, the application fails to deliver on expected benefits because the customer doesn’t behave quite like everyone thought they would.
Case in point: a large insurance company wants to reduce its overall unit cost and improve its customer service by offering self-service capabilities to its customer base. They assume that the customers want to have this capability and will therefore use it. The company designs the application in a manner that mirrors how the internal teams process the business. The insurer launches the capability and receives a nasty surprise when no one uses it. They “knew” what the customer would want, but they were wrong. The capability increases the volume of customer calls, resulting in increased unit costs. The customer experience suffers.
With the failure of this project, everyone begins to ask, “Why did this fail?” The root of the problem is one of misalignment. Development and implementation started before the insurer could align its objectives with those of its customers.
To prevent wasted effort and investments, companies need to first learn and understand what their customers truly want and would actually use. We recommend obtaining the “voice of the customer” and listening to it. To learn your customers’ wants and needs, conduct a voice of the customer study, which can take on many forms, from actual site visits and user group sessions to surveys.
The key to conducting a successful voice of the customer study is to get a representative sampling of the customer base, gather the information, truly listen to and then accept it. The ultimate goal is to understand what customers want and how they interact with the company. Aligning these findings with the goals of the company will help to ensure a successful product for both parties.
Stop assuming that you know your customers. Take the time to ask and truly listen so you can incorporate actual customer input into your customer-oriented initiatives. It is a key step in the overall process and will have a significant impact on your success.