Yes, A Voice of the Customer programs can make a difference in an organization but only if management is willing to listen and take action.
At my organization, we had a forward thinking President who brought in bonus payment for all employees..even salaried ones. Half the bonus was for business related results (revenue and profit) and half came from a customer satisfaction rating.
I was a manager in the customer satisfaction organization at the time. My phone kept ringing and my email exploded as employees brought to my attention a myriad of problems that were driving their customers crazy. Some problems were small, some were large. But the employees were adamant. I had to fix their customer problems or their bonus was on the line! The employees were engaged and many were passionate.
The next biggest problem was to find the resources to fix the root cause of the problems. This is where management can fall down. Sometimes there just isn’t enough funding to change the systems that generated the ‘customer perceived’ errors.
In my organization, the results were very positive. While we couldn’t fix every problem quickly, we chose the high impact ones and fixed those and promised the rest of the employees we would get to their problems as soon as possible.
In the meantime, many of the employees tried to do what they could to minimize customer dissatisfaction, often coming up with some innovative ideas. It is amazing what employees can do when motivated.
Alas the 50% on customer satisfaction bonus disappeared after a few years due to pressure from our parent organization. Some employee engagement remained from passionate people who had taken up the mission to fix customer problems but many employees just forgot about the program and went on to other important tasks.
So the message here is that if you are going to create a formalized ‘Voice of the Customer’ program, don’t just gather the information, do the hard work of fixing the root cause. And stick with the program.
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