Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Listening to Customers & Employees During Times of Change

Image courtesy of neinarson
Has your company been acquired, merged with another company, ousted its executive team, or just been wading through changes that executives are trying to instill across the organization?

If you've answered "Yes" to any of these, then my next question for you is, "Prior to this, were you collecting feedback from your customers?" And, "Were you surveying employees?" Followed by, "Are you continuing to?"

In the last few months, I've spoken to clients and prospects who recently went through, or are in the midst of, some very transitional times as a result of acquisitions and mergers. They've questioned whether they would continue collecting feedback from customers during these times for a variety of reasons, including, but not limited to: concern for what customers will say about the organization.

Imagine that! Isn't that why we gather feedback and listen to the voice of the customer?

Quite honestly, customer feedback is most critical during times of change. Don't drop the ball now. Keep listening. Keep the conversation going. Why? Most importantly, it lets customers know that they are still at the center of your business, that your focus hasn't changed. Doing that affords the business a lot, including allowing it to:
  1. Listen to customers' concerns during the transition
  2. Monitor the impact of the change on customers as you move through it
  3. Gauge the impact on the marketplace, in general
  4. Understand customers' needs
  5. Feed the sales pipeline by identifying interest in new products or offerings
  6. Use the feedback as a "binding agent" to bring the organization together
  7. Remind employees the reason for being in business, despite the changes
  8. Identify emerging trends, problems, etc.
  9. Ensure no one or nothing falls through the cracks
Benefits or outcomes include:
  • Reduced churn/saved customers
  • Strengthened relationships
  • Possible new business from existing customers
  • Process improvements
  • New features/product enhancements
  • Subsequent messaging to the marketplace about the transition (through the eyes of customers)
  • Recommendations or referrals from existing customers
Of course, it goes without saying that collecting the feedback is one thing, acting on it is completely different. You must act on the feedback. Use it to guide your customers through turbulent times.

Let me shift gears, for a moment, to your employees. Listening to employees during times of organizational change is just as important, if not more so, than listening to customers. Ask them what worked well previously and what didn't. The two-way street of communication will go a long way here to getting buy-in and to calming anxious employees. Many of the same benefits or outcomes listed above for customers will apply to your employees, as well. Listening to, and acting on, employee feedback helps reassure them that the company is focused on their best interests, their success, too. And their success = your success.

All great changes are preceded by chaos. -Deepak Chopra


2 comments:

  1. It’s always important to listen to your customers (and your employees), and especially during times of change. If you are being sold, merging with another company, changing management – virtually any type of change – this will be felt by the customer. Best to listen to what they are saying to ensure their experience is consistent, if not even better than they have had in the past.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Shep. Thanks for reiterating. This is such an important point, and I'm afraid many/most companies forget this.

      Annette :-)

      Delete