When Susan Boyle walked on the stage of Britain's Got Talent in 2009, both Simon Cowell and Piers Morgan gave the 47-year-old unemployed woman skeptical looks. She expressed her wish to become a professional singer, but had never been given the chance to make her dream come true. And from Cowell and Morgan's facial expression, they didn't seem to believe that her luck was about to change.But as soon as she started singing, the negative perception they hadn't managed to hide changed and they started seeing beyond her appearance. Instead, they saw a woman who had a great voice and within a short period of time, she became a household name.
Boyle's rise to fame shows that perception can be greatly misleading, not just in the entertainment business but in everyday life. Instead, people and companies alike need to gather as much information as possible before taking decisions that can impact their life or their bottom line.
Recognizing the importance of putting perception aside and having a real picture driving decisions, Boston Scientific engages its customer service reps and regularly asks for their feedback, says Luci Derosa, the company's director of customer service. "They're the ones who talk with customers and so we give them a voice," she said this afternoon during the IQPC's Call Center Week Summit. Their involvement means that reps are able to bring the voice of the customer directly to the decision-makers, giving them the necessary data to make the decisions that will impact customers in the most positive manner.
Terry Wright, Avon's director of customer care for North America, also believes in the importance of listening to the employees with the most direct contact with customers, thus amplifying the voice of the customer. For example, Avon executives listen to calls customers make to its service reps. "Executives [learn] new things that opened their eyes," she said. This information allows executives to remember what the representatives said when they make decisions.
Listening to these frontliners has also helped the company save money. For example, by asking customer reps to weigh in on product catalogs, they were able to pinpoint areas that needed changing. "Everyone wants to hear the voice of the customer. You have the data and now you have to share it in a meaningful way," Wright said during the summit's keynote. The aim, she continued, is to ensure that corporations think about the customer before making a decision. "It's a mistake to forget what the customer thinks," she said.
Both Avon and Boston Scientific have replaced perceived beliefs and guesswork with data that comes directly from those who have the best knowledge of customers: employees. This is allowing them to take more customer-centric decisions.