Last week I wrote about how one of our customers is using Render to make their organization more customer centric. Continuing that thread, this week I wanted to share a story about how some companies are "thinking from the right."
It doesn't need to be said that listening to customers is a good idea. But can you honestly say that you're taking action against a customer's feedback? Companies using Render take a more productive approach to feedback. From a linear process perspective, they think from the right: They establish the decision or plan that requires customer feedback, then collect feedback under that context. In that way, the feedback will be used, decisions will be smarter, and plans more successful.
Here is a quick outline of how some of our customers get this done:
Declare the Value Proposition You Are Trying to Improve. Not product or service. Value proposition. By starting here, it is clearer what you are trying to sell more of to a specific type of customer under a defined competitive context. This can be for a deal, product, service, or customer. Declare to your organization that the purpose of upcoming decisions and planning sessions is to improve the value proposition and that, before anything is done, customer feedback on that value prop will be collected and incorporated into the process.
Write Down Your Value Proposition. This step may sound academic, but the value proposition establishes a baseline on which to improve and provides the topic of customer conversations. So if you don't have a clear, crisp articulation of what your offering is and how it benefits the customer, then you should start writing.
Identify the Customers Whose Voice Will be Impactful. You are talking to customers in order to inform a decision, not just to talk for the sake of conversation. Think critically about the customer with whom to speak and who to include in that discussion. They should be people who benefit from your value proposition and heavily influence buying decisions.
Use Your Value Proposition as Basis of Discussion with Customer. Customers care about how they are better off with your value proposition versus other alternatives. It should not be a secret, so use it as the basis of discussion with your customers. If you wrote down your value proposition, now ask the customer what they agree with and where does it need to be improved. Customers will use their own understanding of the challenges they face and the goals of their business to inform their answers.
Summarize Customer Discussions into Themes. Gather all the customer feedback and create three lists about your value proposition: (1) what customers value most today, (2) what needs to be fixed, and (3) what are their new ideas to consider investing behind. Analyzing these insights will ensure that you don't kill investment in areas of value and that you allocate resources to areas to which customers will respond.
Hold Yourself Accountable on Which Themes Make the Plan vs. Ones that Don't. Take each list and create a decision scorecard that specifies what steps you will take as a result of the feedback. If the decision is something that customers might not like, then describe your logic behind that decision. Saying no is better than no decision at all, because, besides needing to address growth challenges, your customers wants to know you were actually listening.
Follow Up with Customers to Show How They Impacted the Decision Making. For each customer that took the time to provide feedback, report back to them on next steps. You will be more confident in your decisions, customers will be more engaged in the outcomes of your decisions, and your organization will work on the things customers care about.
Stay tuned for my next post, which will describe how the most customer centric companies are collaborating with their customers on initiative execution. In the meantime, if you have your own customer feedback stories to share, we would love to hear how effective those are for you.