As I write this, I am sitting in a plane. High in the sky. Over an ocean. And I’ll be up here for five more hours. And this plane I’m in… the thing is, it’s big. Also – it’s heavy. I don’t know exactly how heavy, but I know one thing for sure: this plane is way too heavy to be able to stay up in the air. Quite simply, it shouldn’t be here.
But here’s the other thing: I’m wrong. (That admission took a lot out of me… let’s agree to never speak of it again.) At any given time, there are hundreds if not thousands of planes flying around. And people who know more than I do about these things understand the why and the how of this.
And my point is this… for every one thing that we ourselves don’t understand or can’t believe is possible, there is somebody who does understand it. So when I fly, I need to start from a position of trust: trust that the experts have gone about this whole plane thing in the right way. Trust that I will arrive safely at my destination.
The same concept applies to any area in which there are experts. Including Voice of Customer programs – though here there often seems to be one notable difference: Voice of Customer is an area in which many people fancy themselves to be experts. They want to do it themselves, or poke holes in a methodology, or disbelieve the results because they don’t match up with what they were expecting. But here again is a situation which requires starting from a position of trust: you need to trust in the expertise of those who know about these things, get beyond your doubts, and spend your energy thinking about how you are going to use the results to improve your relationships, help your customers, and drive business performance. In other words, trust that the experts are going to get you to your destination.
Several weeks ago, I met with a client who had faced exactly this situation in prior presentations of Voice of Customer feedback. At the end of last year, when it came time for her to share results, she met with the most influential person in her audience ahead of time and they had a candid discussion: either they could spend a day wasting everybody’s time debating and defending the methodology and merits of the research and recommendations, or they could accept that the program was well-designed and well-implemented by a team of experts, herself included, and spend their day productively, building action plans to address customer needs. Can you guess what they did?