Every company understands the value of listening to customers and yet JUST listening is creating a reputation for bad customer service. Each customer has their own communicating style of wanting to be heard and acknowledged.
I recently went into a well known grocery store and asked for a customer comment card. The assistant manager handed one to me and whispered "we don't like to get these because it means you're not happy." What a revelation!
When was the last time you actually recruited unhappy customers and asked for their "noodlejam"(tm)?
What exactly is noodlejamingTM? Well simply put...I believe that customers can bring creative solutions to customer service complaints if you can give them the tools to brainstorm. Why should I bring in a focus group or develop an internal noodlejam to guess how to make a customer happy. It may actually miss the mark. Instead allow customers to view creative "what if" questions on packaging, color, time frames, temperature, etc and lo and behold...they will come up with some pretty cool solutions that could change how and what you bring to market.
Want an example? We listened to Ann Block who came to us with a common customer problem...
"I buy paper towels on sale. Not married to any brand. I tear off the wrapping, use it, and three days later realize this towel is worth purchasing again. But how can I? I threw the towels' identity away days ago." Her creative solution? "Why not embed your logo into the towel and maybe on the cardboard center?" GENIUS! Can you see how you've developed brand loyalty in a non-believer? And the costs to do that process are nominal for the profit gained!
So how do you get started with noodlejamming?
A = Attitude's the Key. Change your Mindset, Change your Mouth! Harvest with joy every complaint that you hear. Encourage all your staff to be open to hear complaints as opportunities to brainstorm (noodlejam) solutions.
B = Begin at the Top. Are you missing the opportunity to noodlejam with your internal customers? Your staff will not participate in this new idea if they are afraid that they will:
Be reprimanded for bringing negative complaints to the table
Feel that this new process just means more work
See nothing get implemented
C = Commit to Action. You must have some process in place to listen, take, create, and act on the solutions that you're harvesting. If consumers and staff see that "nothing is really changing around here" your creative ideas will come to a quick halt and all you will end up with is more complaining...now internal AND external/
D = Dedicate to Toot Your Horn. If growing and improving your customer communication and action is really important to you than dedicate someone in your office to be the "birddog" for customer service awards. There are lots out there. Make sure you've got someone that's publishing articles about your successes and blogging!