I was recently helping a client with their Voice of the Customer (VOC) program. As we discussed it, the client indicated that they wanted to ask all the standard questions. “How did we do?” “Were you satisfied?”, etc. As we talked about it, I realized that everything was rear view oriented. It was all about the last transaction. And the data was used to update policies and procedures. Nothing forward looking was thought about to impact the client relationship.
I pointed this out to the client. I indicated the possibility of asking “what are we not doing that you wish we were?, “how would you like our product changed?”, and “What are you seeing from other firms you would like to see from us?”. The client was completely shell shocked. “We never ask about the future. How would we even do that? It would disrupt everything!”
That really got me to thinking about how much CRM at most firms is about looking in the rearview mirror. The possibility of a CRM planning function doesn’t even occur to them. The best example I know of where this is clearly an issue is the US auto industry.
On average, American consumers will own 7 different cars from different manufacturers. When surveyed, they will indicate that the reason for switching has nothing to do with dissatisfaction. Often they are quite please with the company they dealt with. The dealer was attentive, the car performed to their expectations, etc. Yet they have little to no loyalty to that car maker. It might be due to a desire for something new. Might be a better deal. But whatever the reason, a rear view VOC program would tell you that the customer will stay with you right up to the point they leave.
This is not to say that traditional VOC programs are bad. But what I am saying is that maybe firms need to have a CRM Planning group/function, that looks to the future and imagines how to dynamically change and improve the customer relationship and not what policies and procedures need to be fixed,