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Epiphany: Seeing Customers as a Resource


It was a classic lightbulb moment: "So our customers can actually be a resource to us?"

I was recently in a meeting with a new client talking about how to best use customer feedback from their just-launched Net Promoter® initiative.

We were looking at real comments coming in real time through their CustomerGauge systems. And that's when one of members of the customer service group exclaimed that he just realised "after looking at all of these comments in depth, I now see how we could use these customers as unpaid business consultants!”. It was as if the scales had lifted from his eyes.

I thought about this for a minute and realized that he had discovered by himself the change management shift from the norm.

If we ask most customer service employees of companies what they think of their customers, the expletives will soon start to fly and the summary is sometimes "customers are pains in the XXX!". Contrary to the website banners and company mission statement praising the company’s attention to customer service most companies still think of customers as "problems to deal with".

If we think about customers as resources first, then we can start to think of how we can best "use" our customers to help us. This simple shift in mind-set can make huge changes in the way we deal and think about our customers.

Following the Golden rule of Net Promoter® score, "treat your customers as you would like to be treated" coupled with the idea that customers are resources we expect the following type of information to come from our customers for free!

  • Identifying process improvements: who better to identify issues with current business practices than the recipients? Customers will let you know when your systems, processes and people are not working as advertised.
  • Providing testimonials: there are ones that have fantastic experiences and are willing to tell you if you ask. Using these testimonials on your website and marketing materials is a great way to promote the firm without saying anything.
  • Suggest improvements: companies are amazed when they start to ask their customers what they think what information they get back. Many times customers will give insightful ideas for product improvements that can be passed directly to R&D.
  • Ideas is for product extensions: just like improvements customers will suggest new products with similar attributes that can be passed to product marketing to design new SKUs
  • Extending your marketing reach: with social media platforms today like twitter and Facebook advocates for your products have simple ways to tell thousands of people in seconds about their experience.

In case this is not something you are working on, CustomerGauge allows companies to quickly and continuously survey all of their customers asking the standard Net Promoter Score question and allowing for comments/self-select issues. Using the system's features companies can route different type responses to the correct departments for immediate action.

A word to the wise: When you start to use customer feedback in this way, have the courtesy to let you customers know, and thank them! That's when you can really start to build customer loyalty. So harvest your customers, don't ignore them!

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