Do You Know What You Don’t Know?

Yoshida_1 Maria Palma had an excellent post last week in which she quoted an article from the Financial Times Deutschland. The author was incredulous that companies would hire consultants to help them with customer service:

"Mr Shaw stands for a worrying trend: the use of consultants in every area of business, now including customer service consultants. This is not healthy. Surely the one thing business leaders should be able to do is understand what their customers want. What’s next? How-to-breathe consultants?"

The exception I would take with the author is his assumption that business leaders know their customers. In fact, most top managers have little understanding of what’s happening in those "moments of truth" between their company and their customers. Sidney Yoshida did some research that showed there is an "iceberg" principle that happens in corporations. The further you climb up the corporate ladder the further removed you are from the day-to-day struggles of your organization. I would argue that the ignorance extends to the struggles your customers are experiencing in dealing with your company. Top managers understand relatively little about the common customer experience compared with the front-line CSRs and supervisors who deal with customers day-in and day-out.

So how do you stay in touch with your customers expectations? How do you get in touch with what your customers are experiencing when they deal with your organization? You ask them. You do the research. You listen in through an effective QA program that gives you an objective picture of what’s happening when your customers call.

Hiring an expert in customer research and quality assessment can be more cost effective than trying to figure out how to do it yourself.

Related Posts:
Pros & Cons of 3rd Party QA
Front-Line Conversations: Are You Listening?
Where Do You Invest Your Research Dollars?

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(source: Fitness Management)

  4 comments for “Do You Know What You Don’t Know?

  1. July 5, 2006 at 7:08 pm

    I don’t know if I love the use of the word “expert” here. Because it makes it sound as if this person’s opinion is the final say. I always think of the “Expert Desk” at the Weather Channel. Oh brother.
    But I do love the idea of coaches and consultants so that there is an outside objective opinion helping you think things out, and guiding you. Sometimes, especially if emotions are high, you need that outside observer.

  2. July 5, 2006 at 9:46 pm

    You raise a valid point, Christine. My use of the word “expert” comes, not in the sense of the know-all, be-all “final say” (as you aptly put it), but from the knowledge that there is an expertise to designing, implementing and analyzing a valid customer satisfaction survey. Likewise, developing a valid, effective Quality Assessment program requires a certain expertise. We have often found that companies think, “We can do that ourselves” only to spend a lot of wasted time, energy and resources trying to figure it out. That’s where someone with “expertise” can actually be cost-effective.
    Thanks for raising a good issue!

  3. RS
    July 6, 2006 at 6:40 am

    It sounds like we’re missing one major point in customer service – – the people on the phones. They are the link to our customers. What are the managers doing to get that information? Looks like the focus is on the wrong thing here…the answers are there, are they just not listening? Or do they want to hear something different?

  4. July 6, 2006 at 7:50 am

    You’re right, Raquel. I’m afraid many aren’t listening. “Ignorance is bliss” seems to be alive and well. Perhaps they don’t want to have to deal with it. Perhaps it’s easy to pass it off as “someone else’s job”. In some cases, I think it’s the ol’ tyranny of the urgent – there’s always something more pressing that takes time away from the important task of listening to customers.

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