The other night my husband and I sat at a bar for dinner when I overheard the following conversation between the bartender and another customer.
Customer: Can you put on the IU (Indiana University) football game?
Bartender: No hun. We don't get the Big Ten Network.
Customer: That is too bad. I was hoping to watch the game while I ate dinner.
Bartender: You can go to our website and submit a request to add that channel. They do listen when customers submit feedback. They've implemented a lot of things that have really helped us out.
Customer: Oh. OK.
The customer had a cell phone with internet access, but did not take the next step to submit his feedback. Instead, he used his phone to check the score of the game.
While I don't know for sure, I doubt this customer ever submitted his feedback, which got me thinking. How many ideas get lost because sharing feedback is inconvenient for customers? Think about it. How many times have you thought, "I should send them a message to tell them what a great job they did," or "That was inconvenient. I should send them a letter?"
What if instead of asking the customer to take the initiative, the bartender took it? Here are two different scenarios that would work.
Scenario 1 - Making feedback immediate
Bartender - We don't get the Big Ten Network. I see that this is important to you. We have a way you can submit this request right now. Let me pull it up for you.
The Bartender proceeds to pull up an ideas forum and searches for "Big Ten." She doesn't see anything that is similar to her customer request. So, she creates a new idea and asks the customer if he would type in his name and his specific request.
Scenario 2 - Empowering the employee
Bartender - We don't get the Big Ten Network. I see that this is important to you. We have a way you can submit this request immediately to our corporate office. Would you like me to submit this request on your behalf?
With all of the discussion surrounding crowdsourcing, customer-focused innovation, and co-creation we must continue to challenge the vehicles that we have in place for listening to the customer voice.
In order to continue through this journey of being customer focused, we must ask ourselves if we have the right methods in place to capture customer ideas, complaints, appraisals, needs, etc. Do you?
Note: This blog was originally posted in Customer Connection on 10/28/2009.