Customer Feedback Fuels Actionable Results

A couple of weeks back I sat in the Hoffman Hot Seat – Tom Hoffman’s regular interview series. It gave me a chance to talk about the SAP Premier Customer Network and the approach we are taking to customer oriented thinking. Please take a few moments to listen. As I explained to Tom, the real opportunity for business leaders is to engage your customer early – especially where you are working to deliver something that is, ostensibly, for their benefit. Now, we all think that the work that we do is valuable to customers (why else would they buy it, right?), but pure, raw customer feedback can take your breath away. Not only that, it can really transform the way that you think about – and frame – your business programs and customer solutions. It may be hard to hear at first, but once you start to truly engage with your customers – listening and then acting on the insight, you’ll soon see that results flow. And we all smile when customers smile! Nina Nets It Out: Your customers obviously have a significant investment in your business and they can become a very powerful ally in helping you identify improvements and innovations. But you need to invite them into your business process. Once you do that, you’ll soon find that customer feedback truly does fuel actionable...

What is Customer Oriented Thinking

When you work for a consumer goods company – it’s easy to know who your customers are. They are the people who buy your product, right? But what if your business is selling to other businesses? What if you work in a multinational company? Who is the customer? One simple way to break this down is to work with the client/customer distinction. The WiseGeek suggests that looking into the history of these words can provide us some direction. The word “customer” is related to “customs” in the sense that a custom is a way of “doing things,” while “client” comes from the Latin cliens meaning dependent or follower. There are plenty of other nuances, but for our purposes, let’s go with: Customers – a person or entity who buys goods or services. The customer relationship is based on a transaction of some sort Clients – those customers who not only purchase goods or services, but also seek advice. This pushes the relationship to a deeper level What we have seen over the last decade or so is a transformation of the relationship between our businesses and our customers. There are increasingly sophisticated approaches to customers that provide not just transactional value, but deeper engagement. Sometimes this occurs through customer relationship management systems, branding and social media. Sometimes this occurs through the personal one-on-one relationships we make at the storefront, on the support desk or over the phone. Often these “touchpoints” are monitored, tracked and evaluated. The data is pooled and cross-matched to help businesses improve their processes, products and customer service. But it strikes me that while we are...