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Most of us appreciate the value of knowing a customer's expectations, preferences and aversions; it’s instinctive, it’s proven, it’s obvious. What you may be missing is a way to harness the voice of your customer and quantify their expectations to provide a robust platform for your own decisions and judgements.

A method that supports the decision-making, enables the communication of those decisions to others and helps build consensus. With that simple addition to what you do, you can increase results, satisfaction and performance.

How to gain new customers or supporters
How to design products that exceed customer expectations 

How to increase retention and reduce attrition 

How to reinforce rapport with your Brand
How to improve response to customer interactions

Here are 7 questions to help you gauge your current method for harnessing the ‘Voice of the Customer’

Is it...
1.Actionable? You should be getting defined, objective, practical guidance on what you can do to encourage the customer behaviours you want and reduce the behaviours you don’t want; in anything you do from product positioning to the design of marketing materials
2.Representative? The ‘Voice’ should come from a large enough sample of people who are enacting the behaviours you are actually interested in; be it joining, giving, buying, renewing or leaving; not just a vocal minority who self-select themselves into surveys or focus groups with existing agendas or the ability to synthesise plausible opinions
3.Accurate? You should be presented with the underlying reasons people have for enacting those behaviours - not just the initial, ‘surface’ answers they might give. Also, accuracy is fundamentally compromised by questions or facilitation that lead with pre-supposed themes. Accessing your customers’ own ‘model of the world’ gives you a much more valid and accurate insight
4.Objective? The way Research is reported hasn’t substantially changed since the 1950s. It stands or falls, not only on how it is designed and facilitated but for Qualitative Research on the subjective interpretation provided by the researchers. You should insure that information on your customers is framed within an objective structure that reveals your customers’ own priorities not those filtered through a researcher’s own opinions
5.Predictive? Naturally, you can’t take every initiative, every idea or every planned interaction with customers and ask a representative sample what they think of it. Even if you could afford the time and expense, if there are any doubts about the outputs being ‘actionable’ or ‘representative’ you will still have lots of unanswered questions; not least ‘what do we do next?’ You would be better served by a quantified profile for customer motivations, preferences and obstacles that you can systematically compare your planned interactions against – an easy to access virtual, objective Customer Panel
6.Consistent? You should be able over time, to consistently benchmark, monitor and compare all kinds of customers, all kinds of stakeholders, all kinds of behaviours, at all stages of their lifecycle and all kinds of expressions of your Brand, products and services both external and internal in the same system. That way, you have at least one consistent method for identifying the underlying patterns in their motivations and obstacles
7.Credible? It might be helpful that you can tell others that the systems you apply are based on proven principles of behavioural psychology, forensic linguistics and psychographics. Even better that it has helped increase performance and customer satisfaction. However, you will probably be even better served if you can easily show and even involve colleagues with a system that is not subjective or ‘smoke and mirrors’ but is a straightforward application of a robust and understandable methodology

Benchmarketing fulfils all 7 of these criteria

Elicit the true voice of the customer