Why Companies' Giant Blunders Keep Coming
"It is a big, strategic initiative and were seeing lots of money go into this space," he says. "You really, really need to be engaged with customers now, engaging with them in a proactive manner and analyzing interactions with your business ... You need to uncover what their expectations are, what their experiences are, and then map that into business practices."
Capuano cites American Express (AXP), USAA, Starbucks (SBUX) and Apple as examples of companies that have adopted customer-centric approaches. Adobe (ADBE), he says, has a "customer listening room" where employees can immerse themselves in customer feedback via displays of survey results, call center data and Twitter comments.
From mining social media to digging deep into loyalty program data and call-center interactions, businesses have plenty of new weapons in their research arsenal. An issue is that while some company leaders embrace a holistic "voice of the customer" approach to planning, marketing and adapting, others take a dismissive view.Capuano points to an article published online by the Marketing Leadership Roundtable of the Corporate Executive Board (EXBD), a consultancy for senior executives: The Problem with VOC? The Customer Isn't Always Right. "More often than not, marketers tackle touchpoints that customers gripe about most frequently or fix issues mentioned by the largest customers," the article says. "But as far as helping companies demonstrate their unique benefits, this is rarely the best approach." A VOC approach poses "major constraints," it says. "Even worse, that feedback is often very generic," the article says. "We often get bland responses like 'you don't really seem to understand my business,' but what this means vis-a-vis the experience is often left wide open to interpretation. VOC can lead you into a competitive hornets nest. Customers may very well surface places where your competitor's unique benefits shine, places where you're not well positioned to compete and where you could potentially spend lots of money chasing after a benefit you'll never be able to truly 'own.'" "You're not going to get ideas for disruptive innovations from VOC, since you're trying to invent a product that the customer doesn't even know exists," one commenter wrote of the article. Others pointed out that research questions should ideally not be pre-scripted, as "pre-scripted questions lead the conversation in the direction of the interviewer, and don't capture what the customer/consumer want/need."
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