I just read a great post by Sandy Renshaw over at PurpleWren about a cable company who is listening. That’s right – a cable company. A few days ago, Sandy blogged about her experience with her cable provider Mediacom (who, due to a dispute with Sinclair Broadcasting, had to drop the Fox channel) and the short-term solution they put into place. She also expressed her concerns about the long-term (how to get Fox without an antenna??). To my (and her) surprise, one of her comments was from Scott Westerman, Group VP of Mediacom, sharing his thoughts on the problem, as well as his email to keep the conversation going! He also sent Sandy a montage of Mediacom customer voices, which you can listen to from her most recent blogpost (see first link above).
I am impressed with his response for two reasons. One, he is clearly hooked into the blogosphere and is open to using it to communicate back to his customers. Perhaps he has read Citizen Marketers? Second, he has actually taken the time to listen to the actual voice of the customer. Not aggregate results of the latest customer satisfaction survey. Not anecdotes from his team. He has listened to customer concerns and recorded those voices for others to hear.
How well are you listening to your customers? Here are some ideas on how you can open your ears to hear. I welcome other ideas as well!
- Read actual customer comments. Don’t rely on survey results which have been aggregated into a list of the “top issues”. Be sure verbatim customer comments are included, both good and bad, so that you can understand your customers in their own words.
- Go talk to your customers. Whether it is in-person at a retail store or customer event or by going out on a few sales (and support!) calls, meeting and listening to customers face-to-face is critical to do at least once/quarter.
- Hook up with your customer service organization. The place where your customers go to contact you is a great place to go to listen to them. It could be a customer service call center or a technical support department. Go down to the call-center floor, hook-up with one of the customer service reps, and have a listen. Don’t forget to bring your notepad!
- Check out the blogosphere and customer forums. Of course, I am assuming anyone reading blogs is already doing this one!
I highly encourage management at all levels to add some of these interfaces into their regular set of activities. Put it in your planner, if you must, but just do it. And when you are finished listening, be sure to respond.