Listening, understanding and interacting with the customer

Difficult and demanding customers, proliferating channels and points of contact, an expanding offering, more complex purchasing paths… And yet, if the company places the customer at the heart of its attention, that’s to say if it gives itself the means to get to know him, to understand and interact with him, it will be able to retain his loyalty and that of his entourage, to develop sales and to build a relationship with him as a true partner.

To do this, it is not enough to simply measure the customer’s satisfaction, by means of the CSAT indicator for example, but to listen to him, to analyze his invaluable verbatims, to collect his perception of the brand, the product and the service. In connection with this, Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon writes “We consider our customers as guests at a party where we are the hosts. It’s our job to improve their experience a little more each day“. Listening to your customers, and wanting to give them satisfaction, is it just as simple as that ?

Having set the mandatory objective of listening to and satisfying your customers, it is necessary to pursue it throughout the entire purchasing cycle. More topical than ever, in 2005 Procter and Gamble created the concept of “Moments Of Truth” or “MOT’s” corresponding to the interactions between the consumer and the brand before, during and after a purchase. 5 MOT’s were identified :

The stimulus, the impulse that arises from an advertising campaign, advice from a friend, a blog, a tweet … which will arouse interest in the brand or its product.

Zero Moment Of Truth (ZMOT), which corresponds to information from reassuring sources that are consulted by future buyers to support their decision.

First Moment Of Truth (FMOT), when the buyer contacts the company (in a store, on his site …).

Second Moment Of Truth (SMOT), when the prospect, now a customer, uses the product and verifies that the brand’s promises are real.

Third Moment Of Truth (TMOT), when the customer shares his opinion, by word of mouth or on the Web, which will in turn influence other prospects who are in the ZMOT phase .

To optimize the purchasing path, each company must identify its customers’ particular moments of truth, which will not be the same from one business sector to another, from one company to another. The company must be present and accessible via a maximum of channels (store, website, blog, chat, telephone, mail …) and its messages, and even its products or services, must adapt to different channels.

It must also inspire trust, be vigilant about its e-reputation and respond to customers when they call with an issue, good or bad. In order to achieve all these changes for the benefit of customers, it is necessary to disseminate a customer culture within the company, by mobilizing all employees in parallel and even beforehand.

Customer satisfaction depends on the commitment of employees

Thierry Spencer, Customer Relations consultant, talks about the “Symmetry of attentions©” and asserts that “There is a direct correlation between the quality of the relationship between a company and its employees, and the quality of the customer relationship arising from it. This symmetry is based on a virtuous twofold “encounter” between an exemplary management which is team-focussed and customer-oriented, and employees who are motivated, fulfilled, and totally committed to customer satisfaction”.

The employee will have a personalized dashboard which allows him to visualize the KPI’s he needs, to retrieve survey feedback and customer verbatims, all classified by priority of treatment according to the defined challenges (eg : management of dissatisfaction, …). He is no longer managing the situation in a random fashion; he becomes the master of his job – he has what the Anglo-Saxons call “empowerment” – that’s to say, he is able to change his function permanently, revisit and adapt his attitude and the actions to be carried out, by region, by agency, by advisor, with an increasingly fine level of granularity. But to accomplish this it is necessary to provide him with the means.

Since April 2016, the PMU has carried out a weekly survey of clients who have contacted the company via email, chat or telephone (80% of contacts). To involve all employees in this operation, Bertrand de Coquereaumont, Customer Service quality consultant in the Customer Relations Department, set up two levels for the analysis and reporting of the survey results: a first level for management and a second one for the operational teams. The management receives a monthly report with the main KPI’s and an analysis sorted by reason for contact , contact channel and processing level, in order to have visibility of the trends and the major directions of actions to be undertaken.

As for the operational teams, they receive a daily update of the customer feedback files, with a detailed analysis of the evaluation criteria, the most important of which is the scrutiny of the verbatims, categorized into specific problems.

Frédéric Molina, Strategy and Performance Director of Carglass, shares this view. According to him, “Every employee must be able to “live his NPS”, and take ownership of the notion of customer satisfaction, which is only possible if the employee himself is satisfied. This corporate strategy, which is geared towards employee involvement, is fairly recent and entails a real upheaval within the company, which can only come from a managerial transformation.

A revolution in management is underway

As with the French Revolution, which could only take place through the ideas of the Enlightenment, the revolution that is happening today is above all a paradigm shift that can only be initiated, or at any rate approved, at a high level. The paternalistic and controlling manager must become a visionary and inspiring leader, to “carry” his teams with him.

On the Business.lesechos website on 3rd March 2017, the journalist Julie Bolzer published an article about Domitille and Bérénice Germain’s work “Confucius in action, the master’s principles applied to team management”. We learn that “Confucius was an advisor to princes to help them govern. Transposed to the world of business, the precepts of the thinker of Chinese Antiquity (5th century BC) prove to be very relevant when applied to the management of teams “. To take an example : “Do not worry that your talent is not noticed by others, worry about not having noticed that of others,” said Confucius. One of the cornerstones of involving people in a project is to identify the strengths of each individual, how each will contribute to the success of the mission”.

In the end, the more employees are able to listen and interact with their customers to satisfy them, the more satisfied they will be themselves.  The goal, as Pharrell Williams (decorated with the Order of Arts and Letters last week) sings so well, is that everyone is “happy” !