Listening to your customers is about more than building relationships, providing great service and ensuring the path to success; the powerful voice of the customer can also reveal a lot of insight and wisdom.
Placing customer interests at the center of your strategic plan is wise, but that doesn’t necessarily make it easy. Meeting customer expectations requires a full understanding their needs – and that is not possible unless you have one or more dedicated people who truly want to hear from customers and work with them to advance their objectives. As I found out in my conversation with Rose Lee of Determine, that’s precisely what a Chief Customer Officer does. And a whole lot more.
As in all relationships, communication is key. This is something Kevin Turner, Determine’s SVP of Customer Success, also focused on in our recent OutLoud podcast. Communication from the customer to Determine and communication in return. In fact, sometimes this two-way exchange serves as a sort of “check and balance” on itself, with both sides being present to make sure the other stays out of the weeds and moves the ball forward.
As Rose stressed, even the most straightforward feedback has to be considered in the context of the operational setting where the platform is used. For instance, a color change or button alteration in the UI might seem insignificant to a programmer focused on building a robust platform that can compete globally and at the top of the industry. However, if that change has value to customers, then it is just as important as any of the next generation functionality being designed, tested and incorporated.
How do we ensure that our customers are successful?
It probably comes as no surprise that the most visionary customers are also the most effective at leveraging their voices, and also suggesting the best additions and alterations[/inlinetweet]. As this feedback is incorporated, it creates a ripple effect: all customers and users benefit, often just in time. Leading edge companies have a way of recognizing a need that – while niche at the moment – is about to become a high priority requirement across industries. We’ve certainly seen examples of this as the requirements of HIPAA and GDPR have been translated into detailed requirements for source to pay solutions.
Listening might be dismissed as a passive activity, but, when done right, is actually part of a very active process. Careful listening followed by deep understanding leads to an execution plan and delivery of a solution. This cycle, repeated over and over, is what serves as the foundation of lasting, strategic partnerships. And it starts with giving that powerful voice of the customer a clear channel, and encouraging its use.
Thanks for listening in.
Determine OutLoud is our podcast series that minds your business in source-to-pay and contract management. If you’d like to be a guest on Determine OutLoud, would like to suggest someone or have an idea for a topic, we’d love to hear from you.