Friday, October 31, 2008

Sensors in the Ground - A Path to More Compelling Products and Services

Do companies really care about their customers anymore? I’m sure in early industrial age America, the immigrant shoe cobbler or baker knew their customers by name and probably their families as well. Amid all of the technological progress something has gone terribly wrong.

Increasingly in our modern global economy where goods are designed in one location, manufactured in another, sold in yet another, and serviced from still another we have created a fragmented and frustrating experience for customers and even the people in organizations striving to serve them.

And, for all of our process and technology and attentive people we are all simply doing too much to give a damn at a meaningful detailed level about the customer. Sometimes it simply isn’t profitable to do the “right” thing. Ask many call center reps that are goaled on time spent on each call. If they spend too much time on the phone they are dinged so they sometimes react by passing the “problem” back into the pool for another rep to overinvest time in. Still others solve the immediate problem, checking off the box, and failing to take into account larger initiatives that might benefit the customer and company alike.

Worse yet, are the horrid products and service experiences that simply cut themselves off from any meaningful feedback whether things go right or wrong. If it isn’t easy and natural to provide feedback then most people will not. Most people do not complain; they simply no longer use your product or service. If they are vocal they probably influence others to behave the same.

So, it is no surprise that when somebody really pays attention to the customer experience it sends a resounding reverberation throughout the industry. Take the Apple iPhone of the recent past - the new gold standard for the mobile experience. It is now “Game On” for the rest of the industry as others play catch up, reach for what’s next and organize to execute on a path more relevant to the customer.

Establishing Sensors in the Ground can give your company an easy unfair competitive advantage and also provide you with innovation insights. Much like a seismometer can measure and record moving tectonic plates, “Sensors in the Ground” is a metaphor for measuring and recording movements in customer satisfaction or stronger yet, delight. It is also useful for measuring and recording the lack of delight that could result in defection and churn. Sensors in the Ground can provide your company with customer feedback that can improve products and services and even lead to next generation breakthrough innovations. Having effective sensors in the ground increases the likelihood that you will win the battle for your customers’ hearts and minds.

Imagine a world where every customer interaction made the customer feel as though they have a listened to voice and that the company and brand they are interacting with gave a damn.

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