Are we listening?

Editor’s note: Caroline Behuniak is voice of the customer lead at Lincoln Financial Group.

Does your company conduct a lot of research? Is the business doing enough with the findings and insights? Are research insights having a meaningful impact on business decisions? Building an “are we listening?” workshop into the research flow is critical, especially for voice of the customer research. 

Typical research flow

The term “insights activation” is internally focused and typically refers to using data and insights to augment marketing materials, sales stories and positioning relative to competitors. However, incorporating an “are we listening?” mind-set broadens the focus to encompass more of a customer perspective and opportunities to improve their experiences.

How do you lay the groundwork for this type of psychological shift? One way is to introduce “are we listening?” workshops as part of your insights sharing or debrief processes. It sounds simple but is often overlooked or not made a priority. To make the session valuable, you need a few key ingredients:

The value of having these discussions baked into your research process is that the feedback helps inform future research and secures buy-in to required changes. For example, given that time is a finite resource everyone values, many customers express the desire for simple processes (often referred to as an “ease of doing business” metric).

Guide organizational change

Let’s say your research highlights the need for clear communications to explain the “how” and “why” of automated processes (e.g., conducting transactions such as withdrawing funds). To guide organizational change, you need to demonstrate that clear communications will ultimately lead to less customer confusion and dissatisfaction which in turn saves both the company and customer time. This is where the listening component yields benefits. Bringing those who shape the customer experience together in a discussion becomes an efficient way to understand bottlenecks and time frames for making changes. In this example:

  • The technology team makes the changes that require the communications.
  • The customer experience team quantifies the need for the change in communications.
  • The marketing team creates the communications.
  • The servicing team responds to questions regarding the communications.
  • The research team designs programs to gather the customer feedback regarding the communications.

With the common goal of improving the customer experience to increase customer retention, you create a cohesive picture of how each business team plays a role in the change for the customer. Your business partners thus have more of a commitment to act on the insight. 

Acting on insights

The insight sharing and debrief research phases serve as opportunities for transformation with one key component being to determine how your organization is “listening” to the customer. These types of “are we listening?” workshops with a variety of business partners serve to help move an organization toward acting on insights whether that be informing strategic decisions, promoting training of service personnel and/or simplifying customer communications and processes. Those organizations that invest the time to create these types of internal listening posts to compliment external ones tend to have a greater chance at putting plans in place to enhance the customer experience.