By Cammy Elquist LoRé
Customers Are Your Crystal Ball

If you think of business outcomes a few terms might pop into your head such as profit, growth, and sustainability. Setting and hitting benchmarks like these is what usually drives companies to create strategy.

Yet these components of success do not give any picture of what the future holds for these organizations. They are lagging indicators, giving us a sense of how well things have been done in the past.

In the absence of any quantifiable crystal balls on the market, great leading indicators can be created to give organizations a sense of where they are heading. From a management systems perspective, this is where the Voice of the Customer (VOC) should fit.

More than a random survey every now and then, a true VOC program is ongoing. It offers benchmarks that reveal changes in how well the customer perceives their needs are being met. Satisfaction scores, net promoter scores, social media monitoring or even secret shoppers are all methods typically used to gain insight into the customer experience.

With consistent, comparable feedback from customers, the critical next step to take is to do something with it. Customer feedback is liquid gold and it goes to waste if you don’t formally integrate it into management systems and processes. If you do collect customer feedback and you can’t describe exactly who will use it for decision-making, then you’ve discovered a deficiency in your management system that must be addressed.

VOC feedback belongs in quarterly meetings, annual strategy reviews, SWOT analysis reports, and even weekly operational reviews when critical issues are revealed. Feedback, when collected and analyzed should essentially be the the “inner voice” that guides organizations to do what they know is the right thing. It’s the closest thing to a crystal ball we have, and it comes without having to inhale incense or patchouli.

In the next four newsletter installments, OnStrategy will bring readers examples of robust VOC programs and how these programs can get integrated into the way you ‘think and action’ about your customers. Join us, click through and learn more to share with others in the coming weeks.

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Strategy Check: How do you weave customer feedback into your management system?

Cammy Elquist LoRé

- Cammy Elquist LoRé is the Director of Project Communication for OnStrategy. She can be reached @cammyelquist on Twitter or