Becoming Customer Centric - Interview the Customer
by Craig Bailey
We continue our series
on leveraging the Voice of the Customer as a key element to
becoming customer centric with a discussion of the next aspect within the
step of "obtaining the pulse of the customer": Interview the Customer.
This should not be confused with performing a customer satisfaction
survey, which typically ranks customer sentiment on a scale (low to high
satisfaction) against a set of pre-defined attributes. Customer interviews
involve interactive dialog with the customer, starting with simple
What is working well in your relationship with our
What is not working well in your relationship with our
If you were in charge of my firm what would you do
The responses received from the above will be as diverse as the customer
base. It should be noted that these questions are merely a catalyst to
generate conversation. When a customer provides a response, don't always
take it at face value. If a customer indicates that "working with my
account manager is a pleasure" ask "could you give me a specific example
that makes you feel this way?" Likewise, if a customer indicates "I just
don't receive the level of service I expect" ask "could you give me a
specific example of when we let you down?" When obtaining the customer
response to the question "what would you do differently?" ask for
specifics on what they hope would result from this recommendation.
It is also important to determine from each customer interviewed the most
important aspects of the relationship. To do so, ask questions like:
What are the top few items that mean the most in your
relationship with our firm that by meeting or exceeding your
expectations on these items would ensure a long-term relationship?
What are the top few items that if we don't get right
would cause you to rethink your relationship with our firm?
While it would seem that the above two questions would generate a common
response from the customer, the result is often a more comprehensive
understanding of what is important to the customer.
Finally, interviewing the customer could occur within the context of an
account management program (we will discuss later) or as a standalone
customer pulsing program. However, it should not be confused or be
considered redundant with a customer survey program. Customer surveys
typically provide quantitative data while customer interviews typically
provide qualitative data. Taken together, this information can be
extremely valuable for understanding customer sentiment as part of an
integrated VoC process.
In our next edition we will discuss the third approach to "obtaining the
pulse of the customer" and in subsequent editions we will cover how to
take appropriate and responsive action.
View previous articles in this series.
+ Becoming Customer Centric
+ Recommended Reading
+ Speaking Engagements
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This issue we recommend an article from CRM Magazine:Who
Really Owns the CRM Initiative? by Barton Goldenberg. An issue
plaguing CRM initiatives at many companies is ownership. While the
latest and greatest technology is always nice, a system that doesn't meet
users' needs is useless. A successful CRM initiative will incorporate the
business needs with technological capability.
President Craig Bailey
will be a speaker at PDMA's (Product Development and Management
Association) 7th Annual
"Voice of the
Customer" conference on December 7-10, 2004, in San Francisco CA.
Presentation materials will be available for download from CCI's website
closer to the conference date.
About Customer Centricity, Inc.
We strengthen overall company performance through
better service delivery and management.
We boost efficiencies in front-line customer service and technical support
teams, order processing, fulfillment, field service, logistics and other
key operations functions.
In short, we align the resources of your organization to exceed your
customers' expectations in the most effective and efficient manner
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