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Taking Service to the Stratosphere: The Voice of the Customer

Jul 2, 2012

Posted by

Ron Kaufman

Ron Kaufman is a popular keynote speaker and is the author of the New York Times bestseller Uplifting Service: The Proven Path to Delighting Your Customers Read more

The third in a series focusing on creating uplifting service in today’s marketplace

Ron Kaufman

Editor’s Note:  The material in this feature, and in the two weekly features that preceded and the one that follows, has been excerpted from Uplifting Service:  The Proven Path to Delighting Your Customers, Colleagues, and Everyone Else You Meet, a new book by Ron Kaufman.  The book is available at bookstores nationwide and all major online booksellers. (Evolve Publishing, 2012, ISBN: 978-09847625-5-2, $14.95, www.UpliftingService.com).

With service so much a part of our daily lives, both in and outside the workplace, why aren’t we doing it better? Ron Kaufman knows the answer to this question, and not only believes we can do it better, but shows us how through the 12 building blocks of service culture and the organizations already getting it right.

We are publishing these twelve tips in a series of four weekly articles.

There’s a lot of communication that needs to take place throughout the home purchase or sale process.  How well we listen—and how we react—can have a lot to do with generating a loyal customer base that will continue to refer business to us.  Here are three more valuable tips for improving that process.

See “Supporting Links” below for links to previous articles covering steps 1 through 3 and 4 through 6.

7. Voice of the Customer.  Key drivers of satisfaction at Microsoft include product quality, value for money, security, accuracy, and speed of solutions.  But that’s not everything the company’s customers and partners value.  Microsoft carefully studies the millions of words and phrases people type into free-form comment fields every year.  Through careful analysis of these “verbatim” comments, the company discovered other drivers that also make a difference, including “Microsoft is easy to do business with,” “Microsoft cares about me,” and “Microsoft helps me grow my business.”

The voices you gather may come through formal means such as survey forms, hotlines, comment cards, and focus groups, or through social channels like Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, and TripAdvisor.  Wherever it comes from, whatever it says, the value you gain from the Voice of the Customer is achieved only when this river of input connects with a team that wants to hear it, understand it, and do something about it. When these vital voices are shared with service providers throughout your organization, they contribute immediately and powerfully to a better service experience.

8. Service Measures and Metrics.

 Think of the last survey you were given at the end of a flight, a meal, or a hotel stay.  Or the last survey you were asked to complete online. Were you really glad to see it?  Do you feel your responses made a difference? Surveys are commonly used to measure satisfaction, assess loyalty, evaluate staff performance, and find areas for service improvement.  But these evaluations are notoriously unpleasant for customers to complete and difficult for people in organizations to decipher.

Surveys are a great example of how Service Measures and Metrics can become disconnected from the practical levers of power.  Collecting data and crunching numbers can easily become a separate function or a department, fueled by the urge to gather ever more data.  Service Measures and Metrics are most effective when they help you prioritize what’s most important from customer satisfaction to customer loyalty to employee engagement.  Measure what matters to focus attention, design new action, and create positive service results.

9. Service Improvement Process. This is where customer complaints are wanted and welcome, where survey reports are carefully examined for new ideas and insights.  A Service Improvement  Process creates synergy by connecting people between levels and functions.  Some issues require ownership on the front line, involvement from the middle, and sponsorship from above.  Other service issues are quickly solved by teams working across silos.

A well-designed Service Improvement Process promotes communication across functions, divisions, and departments.  It stimulates collaboration across levels, languages, and locations. With thoughtful planning and invitations, you can also tap the creative energy of your customers, vendors, distributors, and even your government or industry regulators.

Next Installment, July 9:  Service Benchmarking and Delivery.