Customers Rock!

A blog about customers, their experiences, and how businesses can make sure their customer experiences rock!

Customer Walls

Posted by Becky Carroll on August 8, 2007

happy-customer.jpg Are we putting up walls between the enterprise and its customers?  Or are we putting up walls dedicated to its customers?

I was in Santa Barbara this week and had a chance to see how one company shares their customers’ voices.  Citrix Online hosted a tour of their facilities for me.  Besides being very employee-centric (one whole wing of their campus was dog-friendly!), Citrix Online is very customer-centric.

Tina Long, director of PR and communications for Citrix Online, walked me past their Voice of the Customer wall.  On it were three large groupings of many signs, each sign a verbatim quote from a customer.  Each quote was also directly attributed to a customer.  These customer quotes were divided up by Citrix Online’s main product lines, each grouping a different color.  It was in an area near the employee break room which gives the opportunity for many to stop and read “the writing on the wall.” 

I love this idea of keeping customer comments visible to all in the organization.  It was inspiring to see the feedback plastered all over the wall!

Do you listen to your customers enough to get these types of quotes?  Or do you aggregate your customer feedback into several large categories so the true voice is lost?

In one of my previous posts, I asked you what other companies do to listen to their customers.  Kevin Hillstrom of MineThatData shared his experiences with some major apparel companies:

  • At Lands’ End, professionals had to help out in the warehouse, or on the phones, during the holiday season and during bad weather. You learn a lot about customers doing that.
  • At Nordstrom, we had to physically work in stores, or take orders over the phone, during major sale events.
  • At Lands’ End and Nordstrom, we learned a lot about customers, by actually spending some time being close to the customer. Both brands are well known for their appreciation of the customer, both brands require professionals to have some interaction with the customer.

When I worked at HP, we learned about the “Day in the Life of a Customer” concept, which was very similar to ethnographic studies.  HP researchers would go to a company which was a customer of HP’s and video tape their business for a day.  HP would then analyze places where they could help make that customer’s business processes easier.

Lego’s customer service team shares customer feedback from the front lines, support, with the rest of the organization in their regular internal newsletter.  The information helps product teams improve their designs as well as highlights any potential issues. 

Some companies tend to hold customer information within their own corporate “silos”.  By this, I mean that departments are not always good at sharing what they know or learn about the customer with other areas of the company.  This kind of knowledge-is-power attitude cannot exist if one wants to create a Customers Rock! company.

Companies like Lands’ End, Nordstrom, HP, Lego, and Citrix Online get close to their customers and share the verbatim “voice of the customer” within the organization to improve products, processes, and ultimately the customer experience.

Where can you improve your customer listening?  Go find a spot to make your “customer wall”, and start the conversation!

(Photo credit: elnur)

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12 Responses to “Customer Walls”

  1. Dan Neely said

    One of the best ways to learn about customers is by listening to customer-to-customer communication rather than conversations/comments made to and from the company. More often than not customers want to talk to each other rather than the company in voice of the customer focus groups. The “customer wall” is an example of sharing the customer-to-company communication, and though this is good for the company, these quotes don’t provide as much insight into what customers really think.

  2. By the way, I hated working in the stores during sales.

    However, the experience was invaluable. You can’t begin to imagine how you make life difficult for store employees until you have to work with the policies and procedures you put in place.

    Similarly, at Nordstrom, we did listen to actual phone conversations between sales agents and customers, and spent time at our contact and fulfillment centers to see what the daily lives of our valuable phone/distribution center employees were like.

    All of those experiences shape your thought process, when thinking of the next great marketing strategy you wish to implement.

  3. daksh said

    Excellent one :)

    What can smaller business owners with international customers do to improve customer listening?

  4. Dan, thank you for your comments. The “customer wall” is indeed indicative of only one type of customer comments. However, in my experience many companies don’t share any verbatim comments from customers in any fashion. Starting with a customer wall is a good way to get the customers’ voices more audible.

    I agree with you that it is critical for organizations to spend time listening to customer feedback in all forms. In order to do that, we must go where customers go and either interact with them or listen as a fly on the wall.

  5. Kevin, thank you for adding to your comments from before! The customer is only one half of the equation; they will be treated better if the employees are taken care of as well. Thank you for adding such valuable real-world insight.

  6. Thanks, Daksh.

    Many of the suggestions I listed in my previous post, Tips for listening and learning (http://customersrock.wordpress.com/2007/03/07/tips-for-listening-and-learning/) apply equally to any size company regardless of customer location. Listening to what customers are saying about your company online, asking them for feedback through web surveys, and interacting with them on a blog are a few relatively easy methods. And they are relatively inexpensive!

    I think the biggest challenge with listening to international customers is putting their feedback into the proper context. Cultural and language differences will impact the interpretation.

    To anyone out there with a similar business: what methods are you using to listen to international customers?

    Thanks for raising the question, Daksh!

  7. Teri Isner said

    Even if your company is full of independent contractors and not a single focused brand you can still have a wall of evidence of success by all to inspire, motivate and share. Great idea we have a wall with a tree showing the power of profit sharing at our Keller Williams office.

  8. Teri, visible signs of success, such as customer or employee walls, work wonders to improve morale, make a statement, or just raise visibility on a topic. Thanks for sharing about your Profit Sharing Tree!

  9. Dan Neely said

    Becky, I agree that having a “customer wall” is a great place for companies to start in listening to their customers. Although it’s an evolutionary process, the technology has advanced quickly and it won’t long before companies have the ability to be the fly on the wall, listening in on customer-to-customer conversations.

  10. Dan, I agree. Technology has already come such a long way so quickly, and I am sure it will continue to progress at a fast pace. As long as companies are open and transparent about being the fly on the wall and about how they use that information, it will serve them well.

  11. [...] times here at Customers Rock! where I highly recommend that companies listen to their customers as often as possible.  The best way is to take note of the verbatim words customers use, rather than read from [...]

  12. And don’t forget to listen to your customers too. It would make them feel valued when they are heard.

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