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12 Questions to Evaluate Understanding Your Customer

better_experienceDo you understand your customer?

Many organizations speak about understanding customers and their needs, but few truly understand what customers value most.  While it is nearing a year end and reflecting back on the past years customer experiences, I recommend you consider the following aspects of understanding your customer.

Take the following test and see how your organization rates. 

  • Are your customers’ needs clearly defined, and are they regularly updated?
    • Yes, on a regular basis.  It's then communicated back to all staff for discussion and action planning.
    • Yes, periodically.
    • No, but we talk about it on an informal basis.
    • No, not at all.
  • Do you communicate the results of your customer satisfaction surveys regularly throughout the entire company?
    • Yes, at least monthly through newsletters and posters.
    • Yes, occasionally, but not as often as we should.
    • No, but the information is available if anyone wants to know.
    • No, not at all.
  • Do you actively seek out customer comments and complaints?
    • Yes, with several methods: formal surveys, customer panels, toll-free numbers.
    • Yes, occasionally, but not as often as we should.
    • No, but we respond if there are complaints.
    • No, not at all.
  • Do you use multiple ways of obtaining customers information?
    • Yes, we communicate in several ways with our customers, including surveys, focus groups and face-to-face interviews.
    • Yes, but we could do a better job of it.
    • No, not enough.  We could do better.
    • No, but I’m sure they are few and far between.
  • Is there a commitment from top management to support the customer-focused service concept?
    • Yes, and management is good at communicating service goals.
    • There is commitment, but it doesn’t really show.
    • Management says it believes in it but acts in opposition.
    • Management doesn’t seem to care about service.
  • Do you have a concept of “internal service”?
    • Yes.  We all realize that we must serve one another as well as the customer.
    • Yes. Most of us think about it at least sometimes.
    • No. We have a lot of silos in the company.
    • No. Some people would rather fight than cooperate.
  • Are customers surveyed to determine satisfaction levels for existing services and request for new services?
    • Yes. They actively survey on both issues.
    • Yes, I think so.
    • Sometimes, but we seldom solicit input on requested new services.
    • No, and they don’t care to.
  • Do you have a centralized database for customer information?
    • Yes, and all staff who need to have access to it.
    • Yes, but there is limited access to it.
    • Yes, but there is a lot of customer information on databases kept within departments.
    • No recognition.
  • Are segmentation strategies clearly defined?
    • Very clearly.  We review customer segmentation constantly and change things if necessary.
    • Fairly well, though it’s been a while since we’ve thoroughly looked them over.
    • I don’t know.  I haven’t given it any thought.
    • Rather poorly.  They are bureaucratic and complex.
  • Do you track both customer satisfiers and dissatisfies?
    • Yes.  This information is used to address continuous improvement.
    • As well as you can expect.
    • Not very well.
    • No. We do a poor job of pinpointing customer issues.
  • Does your company have a spelled-out, easily communicated customer value model?
    • Yes, and all the staff are aware of it.
    • Yes, but most frontline employees don’t know it.
    • No, but a model is under development.
    • No, I’m not aware of one.
  • Do you track channel effectiveness, that is, which channels are most effective in serving the different customer segments?
    • Yes. We look at cost-to-serve balanced against close rate by channel.
    • Yes, but we do not communicate this well, or encourage customers to the most effective channels.
    • Yes, but only periodically, and we do not communicate this well.
    • No, not at all.

Give yourself four points for every a, three for every b, two for c, and one for d.  How did you do?

Scores of 40 and over indicate a good understanding of the customer and a solid Customer Performance Program.

Scores of 30-30 show a good foundation, but a need for improvement. 

Scores of 20-29 indicate several flaws and the potential to misread the customer – perhaps too much generalization.

Scores below 20 suggest a strong need to establish the fundamentals and rebuild.

Select

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