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‘I heard what you had to say’ can go a long way

One of the first rules of acting on customer insights is to simply let them know that you're listening. Unfortunately, too often, customers feel like their feedback goes into a deep dark black hole.

Here is a real-world example: I attended a meeting recently with a small group of customer strategists from technology companies responsible for their voice-of-the-partner programs. Also invited to the meeting were a small group of value added resellers (VARs) – precisely the individuals that they commonly collect feedback from. At some point in the conversation one of the customer strategists innocently asked if their partner managers ever comment on the feedback provided by the VARs.

Silence. Nothing. All the VARs just shrugged and said, "Nope."

The customer strategists groaned as if to say, "Really? I put all this effort into collecting insights from our partners, analyzing what they have to say, and deliver it to the partner managers and they don't even mention it to the partners?!" Their frustration (and embarrassment) was obvious.

Several common obstacles could be the cause of this:

  1. They aren't aware. Since they don't know about it or don't receive feedback from their customers, naturally they're not going to mention it.
  2. They don't understand it. They may receive reports from the person running the customer insight program, but that doesn't mean it makes sense to them. If they don't understand it, they're not going to talk about it with customers.
  3. They don't believe it. They may receive the information, but if it isn't relevant or they don't trust it, they are not going to bring it up with their customers.

Ultimately, this comes down to communication and training. Every customer strategist has the responsibility to make sure the voice of the customer gets put to use. But to do that you have to make sure everyone is aware of it, understands it, and believes in it.

Only then will they start a conversation with their customers with those all-important words, "I heard what you had to say!"

Patrick Gibbons
Principal, SVP



About the Author

Patrick Gibbons

Patrick Gibbons

As Principal and Senior Vice President of Marketing for Walker, Gibbons has global responsibility for definition, branding, and promotion of the company and its solutions. Gibbons has published and/or contributed to a number of articles, papers, and blogs on customer intelligence topics and has a regular column in CRM Magazine. He has been a featured speaker at a wide range of conferences, and has produced a series of educational events for customer experience leaders.

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