Every modern business will appreciate, in intellectual terms, how important its customers are to it. At a practical day-to-day functional level, however, the depth of involvement can be quite different. A superficial knowledge of a customer may easily pass for expertise where no other evidence can be shown, and all customers for a given product or service may tend to be lumped together, regardless of their individual identifying characteristics. Few businesses have developed effective methodologies for gathering quality data from their customers and communicating it to staff. This is particularly likely to be the case if one or more of the following apply:
- The supplier-customer relationships are so long-standing that it is considered that nothing new can be learned
- The sales function is separated, by geography or culture, from the rest of the organisation
- Customer survey techniques are viewed as expensive, intrusive and threatening
- Technology such as e-commerce has streamlined the processes, but degraded or eliminated the personal connections.
Recent research provides strong evidence that customer satisfaction is one of the few reliable indicators of a business’ future profitability. Consequently, there are compelling reasons to ensure that customers are satisfied with the range of services and products on offer.
It has also been noted that customer perceptions, both good and bad, are effective stimuli to better performance throughout the organisation. Coupled with the Customer Focus methodology, the voice of the customer can be a major driver of continuous improvement.
Understanding customers requires close contact and a formal process designed to extract the maximum amount of relevant information. Customer dialogues can take many forms, and the selection of the most appropriate means for a particular client is crucial.
The Galbraith Muir Consultancy has the background and expertise to advise on the best technique for each client’s circumstances.
Simple and inexpensive to implement; difficult to do well; limited in scope
Simple and quite inexpensive; can cover large numbers of customers; some subtle points can be recognised
Third Party Interviews
Capable of exploring issues in depth; capable of changing style during the study to examine emerging issues; may have increased credibility in the client organisation; require careful briefing and preparation; incur a cost
Interviews carried out by client’s staff
Can enhance customer/supplier relationship; provides fast route to transfer information into client organisation; major cost is in up-front training; can be quantitative and comparable with other organisations
Many of these services can be provided from within the Galbraith Muir Consultancy, but, where appropriate, we can recommend established and proven suppliers with expertise in technological markets, to carry out complementary work.