Have you ever stopped to listen to your customers?

Have you ever stopped to listen to your customers?

All companies successfully seek to continuously know their customers and this knowledge is the engine for achieving the vision and strategy of the company. - This is the premise that best supports the process that incorporates the opinion of customers in the decision making of an organisation.

In fact, this opinion of customers, the so-called Voice of Customer (VOC), is now present in the day-to-day of most of the reference organisations. However, the process has often been conducted incorrectly, leading to below expectations. In this regard, we leave you the question: does any contribution of your customers to the operation of your business is better than none? To help to answer this, it's worth exploring the theme better.

The main goal of any business is to generate profit. In an ordinary company, the profit is calculated from fees revenue. However, to generate and maintain sales, the organisation must prioritise its customers on a regular basis. According to Michael Hinshaw, CEO of McorpCX, 95% of companies assume they do it on a regular basis. Among these, 84% often ask for feedback from customers, while 11% do it so occasionally. However, despite this generalised opinion gathering, only 29% of the companies with VOC instituted systematically incorporate the information generated about the clients' needs in their decision-making processes. In addition, almost 75% admit that their client listening programs are not effective enough to lead to effective action.

It is vital to collect and process the information correctly on which it is possible to act at a strategic level, at a later stage. Thus, prioritising, evaluating the impact of alternatives, and selecting the best course of action becomes critical. For any product, it is necessary to clearly identify which are the market segments to reach, how to retain customers, what features to incorporate into the product or service designed and what is the price elasticity for a potential customer. However, this process is not always conducted in the best way and the effects may be different from expectations.

The Coca-Cola Company, the American multinational maker of the famous Coca-Cola, fell victim to a poor market study when it designed a new product launched in 1985 - New Coke. After several surveys, the company concluded that the public in general liked the new taste - in all similar to Pepsi competitor - deciding not only to incorporate the new product into the market, but also to eliminate Coca-Cola Classic from the consumer shelves. The failure of this direct replacement, consummated due to poor application of VOC, resulted in a near-fatal strategic error and in a large-scale national contestation.

Two obvious mistakes were made here: the tests were done comparing the product only with the Pepsi brand and the sample represented only new customers, with no emotional connection to the brand itself.

It is mandatory to understand that VOC implementation should be divided into two key steps. First, it is necessary to understand what the client wants, both emotionally and functionally. Subsequently, an effort must be made to organise the information, transforming it into data with value for the organisation, aligned with specific goals.

Here are 4 tips to help you to avoid the most common mistakes in listening to your customers:

·         VOC does not intend to map demographic analysis by gender, age, or income segmentation - the psychographic profile covers more difficult to define information such as values, emotions, fears and passions

·         VOC should not be applied to something you already know - if success already exists in a product line from your competitors to a specific customer segment, why invest time and resources in a VOC?

·         The VOC should not be associated with an investment of 10,000 euros with the aim of taking a decision of 5 euros - apply a cost-benefit analysis and direct your efforts to the real priorities

·         Listen to the right voice in the right subjects - selecting the right actors is critical to reliable data. Do not make the same mistake as the Coca-Cola Company.


Responding to the question that started this article, listening to customers brings results, when it is done in a structured way. It is necessary to assess the need, to plan, to develop, to execute and to carry out an interpretation of data that allow reaching conclusions sufficiently solid to integrate decision-making processes. This is our challenge.


Kaizen Institute is a multinational company that supports organizations in the design and implementation of processes that enable continuous improvement in a sustained manner.

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