Monday, December 13, 2010

Voice of Customer: How Well Are You Listening?

Voice of Customer is a growing field in marketing that offers high-value insights into what customers think about your company, products and services.

It’s “high-value,” that is, if you actually act on what you learn.

That brings up one of the common VOC missteps cited in an American Marketing Association webinar I sat in on this week called “Customer Intelligence: The New Frontier of Customer Voice.”

Too often, the presenters pointed out, companies that do try to get inside the minds of customers don’t follow through. They don’t share the data with people throughout their organizations who could use it to sell to and satisfy more customers.

If your company fits that description—or if you aren’t doing any customer research at all—you’re putting yourself at a disadvantage.

It’s a disadvantage because your competitors are gaining timely insights from more sources (chat rooms, social networks, etc.) and doing more than ever with that data. Smart companies are using research to adapt their products and services into more powerful offers. They’re also combining customer intelligence with sophisticated predictive analytics to help them develop the kinds of offers customers want most, all while improving financial and operational performance across their organizations.

If your company also wants to do more with customer intelligence, here’s what you need to get started.
 Leadership. From the top down, there must be a commitment to continuously getting customer input and using it. Marketing professionals can assist this effort by proving the value of acting upon customer insights.
 Talent. It takes experience and expertise to solicit and assess customer data most effectively. Almost anyone can develop a survey, but analyzing the data and developing strategies toward its most effective use takes unique business savvy.
 Processes. One-offs won’t work. You’ve got to make customer intelligence a part of your operational framework by aligning it with your strategic goals.

Now for a little customer research of our own. Tell us: How are you listening to VOC?

Friday, December 3, 2010

Many Businesses Are Revving Up for 2011. How about Yours?

What a difference a year makes. Small businesses are heading into 2011 with refreshing energy.

That’s what I heard repeatedly yesterday from fellow Milwaukee-area business leaders during an MMAC Council of Small Business Executives session on the state of small business at year’s end.

One after another, executives said they have a much better outlook than they did entering 2010.

Better yet, they’re building on that positivity by pursuing growth. Planned initiatives include:

  • Acquiring new talent.
  • Making capital investments and expanding facilities.
  • Exploring mergers and acquisitions.
  • Emphasizing marketing—especially through technologies such as websites, mobile apps, etc.—to set themselves apart from their competition.

As the chair-elect of COSBE, I’m honored to have the opportunity to be part of the leadership of this vibrant organization at such an exciting time.

Meanwhile, here’s hoping your business shares the optimistic mindset. With continuing good numbers from manufacturing and other areas, we have many reasons to look forward and take action to accelerate success.