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Commentary on Desired Customer Outcome

I have encountered some mixed emotions among some Market Research and Customer Experience Management practitioners about the usefulness of Customers Reviews as a source of real business intelligence, as opposed to their use as marketing gimmicks. I do not fancy myself as a true professional in these fields as I lack true hands-on, hard core operational experience; however, I doubt these mixed emotions and remain determined to develop technology that “listens” to the stories of customers to “learn” and measure how a product experience meets customer’s expectations.  I ran across this post today from ClearAction that clarifies some of these doubts:

What’s the difference between the way customers volunteer feedback versus the way they’re requested to give feedback? One revolves around outcomes in the customer’s world, whereas the other revolves around customer satisfaction enablers in the company’s world. True customer-centricity requires primary focus and decision motivations be centered on the customer’s world, rather than the company’s.

It is easy to imagine that politics, real or perceived loyalties and conflicts of interest can easily skew the results of customer satisfaction research. However biases, mistakes and algorithmic-imperfections can also result in low quality output. The method is less important than the intent.

customers “hire” a product or service to get something done for them. When we understand the circumstances motivating the customer to hire a product or service, then we gain insight into the customer’s jobs-to-be-done. A great way to identify customers’ desired outcomes throughout the customer experience is to scan customer-generated inputs on your brand category. Good sources of customer-generated inputs include contact center and sales call logs and social media.

Ethnography, or observation research, is also instrumental in understanding outcomes in the customer’s world. What value does your organization place on these customer outcomes sources relative to your formal research that is typically organized from a customer satisfaction enabler viewpoint? Why not consider revising formal research to focus on customer outcomes rather than enablers?By really understanding customers’ jobs-to-be done, constraints, work-arounds, hassles, and other elements of their world, new insights emerge for superior alignment with customers. Adopt the customers’ jargon — don’t make them adopt yours. Cater to the customers’ world — don’t make them cater to yours. Your jargon and world are customer satisfaction enablers, or a means-to-an-end toward customers’ desired outcomes. The outcomes are the direct link to re-purchase behavior and propensity to recommend a brand. In the end, it’s only the outcomes that matter.

The important point is that no single source of data, or method by which such data is acquired, produces viable knowledge. At this point I need to channel Chance, “The Gardener” from “Being There” by relying on my sailing experience – you cannot navigate by less than 3 points of reference; that is why the word “triangulation” was introduced. Our technological approach does not change this any more than the invention of GPS.


Comments & Thoughts

  1. Barry Eisler says:

    As a consumer who both voluntarily posts reviews and responds to the customer satisfaction surveys that are sent my way, (most of the time anyway), I would have to assess the “weight” of the former as far more telling. When we are moved to write either positively or negatively on an a product or service, we express the relevant details as to what about that product or service failed, met, or exceeded our expecations. True, relevant features may vary from consumer to consumer, but the agenda or lack therof is engaging and helps us benefit from each others experiences. Most of the surveys I have received, have “canned” questions that could apply to almost anything.

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