Customers. What do they know? Nothing. And everything.
If you wanted to find out what your customers thought you might do a customer survey right? You would think up a bunch of questions, send it out and analyse the results. If you were really serious you might employ a specialist company to assist you. But would you get what you want? Probably not, I would argue. At least you would not be getting information that would be better than that which is at your fingertips right now.
The data that can tell you exactly what the customer want is your demand data. Do you know how many times customers call, write, visit, email? Do you know what it is they want when they contact you? More importantly do you know how much is value demand and how much is failure demand? (I am indebted to John Seddon of Vanguard for this idea.)
Value demand is when a customer contacts you to get value. E.g. “I would like to buy…” or “Can you give me advice about…?” or “I would like more…”
Failure demand is contact that is caused by a failure or inaction on the part of your company. E.g. “You said someone would call. They never came.” or “My widget arrived and it is not what I asked for.” or “I haven’t heard anything. What is going on?”
One of the biggest sources of improvement is the failure demand. Most companies never even realise that they have any. All calls are demand and have to be resourced. No matter that 60% of people are calling back to complain or to chase a previous contact.
If you can identify the causes of failure demand, improve so that those causes go away, you can switch off failure demand and make huge savings. Not only do you no longer have to resource the response to the failure demand, but you have more time for the value demand or time for more value demand.
So before you get into customer surveys, listen to your customer SHOUTING at you by the types of demand they bring to you.