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Dick Wooden

Customer Care

Evaluate How Well You Understand Your Customer

Do you need to improve your processes to increase clarity?

Published: Monday, September 21, 2015 - 13:13

Many organizations talk about understanding customers and their needs, but few truly understand what customers value most. As we approach the end of the year, it’s a good time to reflect back on this year’s customer experiences and consider the following aspects of understanding your customer.

Take the following quiz and see how your organization rates:

Are your customers’ needs clearly defined and are they updated regularly?
1. Yes, on a regular basis. The information is then communicated back to our staff for discussion and action planning.
2. Yes, periodically.
3. No, but we talk about it on an informal basis.
4. No, not at all.

Do you communicate the results of your customer satisfaction surveys regularly throughout the entire company?
1. Yes, at least monthly through newsletters and posters.
2. Yes, occasionally, but not as often as we should.
3. No, but the information is available if anyone wants to know.
4. No, not at all.

Do you actively seek out customer comments and complaints?
1. Yes, via several methods: formal surveys, customer panels, and toll-free numbers.
2. Yes, occasionally, but not as often as we should.
3. No, but we respond if there are complaints.
4. No, not at all.

Do you use multiple methods to obtain customer information?
1. Yes, we communicate in several ways with our customers, including surveys, focus groups, and face-to-face interviews.
2. Yes, but we could do a better job of it.
3. No, not enough. We could do better.
4. No.

Is there a commitment from top management to support the customer-focused service concept?
1. Yes, and management is good at communicating service goals.
2. There is commitment, but it doesn’t really show.
3. Management says it believes in it, but its behavior says otherwise.
4. Management doesn’t seem to care about service.

Do you have a concept of “internal service?”
1. Yes, we all realize that we must serve one another as well as the customer.
2. Yes, most of us think about it at least sometimes.
3. No, we have a lot of silos in our company.
4. No, some people would rather fight than cooperate.

Are customers surveyed to determine satisfaction levels for existing services and request for new services?
1. Yes, we actively survey on both issues.
2. Yes, I think so.
3. Sometimes, but we seldom solicit input on requested new services.
4. No, they prefer we don't bother them.

Do you have a centralized database for customer information?
1. Yes, and all staff who need to have access to it.
2. Yes, but there is limited access to it.
3. Yes, but there’s a lot of customer information on databases kept within individual departments, too.
4. No.

Are segmentation strategies clearly defined?
1. Yes, very clearly. We review customer segmentation constantly and change things if necessary.
2. Fairly well, though it’s been a while since we’ve thoroughly looked them over.
3. I don’t know—I haven’t given it any thought.
4. No.

Do you track both customer satisfiers and dissatisfiers?
1. Yes, this information is used to address continuous improvement.
2. Yes, as well as can be expected.
3. Not very well.
4. No, we do a poor job of pinpointing customer issues.

Does your company have a spelled-out, easily communicated customer-value model?
1. Yes, and all the staff are aware of it.
2. Yes, but most frontline employees don’t know it.
3. No, but a model is under development.
4. No, I’m not aware of one.

Do you track channel effectiveness, that is, which channels are most effective in serving the different customer segments?
1. Yes, we look at “cost-to-serve” balanced against “close rate by channel.”
2. Yes, but we don’t communicate this well or encourage customers to use the most effective channels.
3. Yes, but only periodically, and we don’t communicate this well.
4. No, not at all.

Give yourself four points for every 1, three for every 2, two for 3, and one for 4.

Scores of 40 and above indicate a good understanding of the customer and a solid customer-performance program.

Scores of 30-39 show a good foundation, but a need for improvement.

Scores of 20-29 indicate several flaws and the potential to misread the customer—perhaps too much generalization.

Scores below 20 suggest a strong need to establish the fundamentals and rebuild.

How did you do?

First published on the Success with CRM blog.

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About The Author

Dick Wooden’s picture

Dick Wooden

Dick Wooden, founder of Success with CRM Consulting Inc., is a consultant and an entrepreneur business coach who implements tailor-made customer relationship management (CRM) systems for more productive business development in small to medium-sized businesses. Wooden has more than 35 years experience working with entrepreneurs, business management, sales, marketing, and customer service professionals.