Listening to customers is an essential tool for organizations that want to improve their customer experience and achieve business growth. The more savvy organizations are putting systems in place to gather voice-of-the-customer information that will help business leaders make the best decisions.
Santa Monica-based dating site eHarmony is a firm believer in the need to understand what its members think about the company. "We want to hear directly from our customers," notes Arvind Mishra, vice president of product management and lifecycle marketing at eHarmony.com. The organization wanted to know not only what members think about the company in general, but also about its work to find matches for them to determine how to improve existing offerings as well as how to fill in the gaps. As Mishra puts it, having a great product is just a piece of the puzzle. "We need to be very close to our customer," he says.
In order to simplify the process that enables customers to share their opinions, last year eHarmony implemented the Qualtrics Research Suite. The solution allows the company to create and conduct surveys to gather feedback about topics that range from the navigability of eHarmony's website to relationship questions posed to gauge whether members would consider meeting anyone with preferences that don't match the ones indicated in their established settings. Mishra explains that while the preferences chosen by members during registration are critical in finding the most appropriate matches, surveys uncovered that some members indicated they'd be willing to meet people outside these preferences. This detailed level of customer feedback has allowed eHarmony to make an important change in its solution and provide members with matches that are not strictly within their established settings, for example a particular age bracket. While the registration process helps paint a picture of customers' interests and requirements, for example how far they're willing to travel to meet a date, the change in the registration process allows members to specify whether adhering to these requirements is a must. They're also asked to rank these elements according to their level of importance. For example, how important is it that a match lives within a particular radius from their home and how does this rank in comparison to other criteria?
However, customers had difficulty understanding how the process works and this lack of clarity made them feel as if eHarmony wasn't respecting their wishes if, for example, they weren't willing to compromise on their expectations but had mistakenly said they were. Member feedback helped the company understand the need to clarify the language in that section and better explain why eHarmony wanted to get more details about members' preferences and how strict they wanted the company to stick to these criteria. Because members can better understand the reason for eHarmony's questioning and why the company wants this information, they're more eager and willing to provide the organization with the needed information. This means that eHarmony can better adhere to customers' wishes and provide them with matches accordingly.
Mishra notes that member feedback is allowing eHarmony to be more customer centric. The survey prompts members to give additional feedback to eHarmony through one open-ended question. "They can tell us anything they want," Mishra notes. The open-ended question is giving added insight, allowing eHarmony to identify any problems that the company hadn't previously thought about. "We can then zero in and address what they're talking about," Mishra explains.
Further, the new system has reduced survey-creating time, giving employees more time to analyze customer insights. As Mishra points out, people are extremely serious about finding a great relationship, making it essential to provide personalized matches. A more granular level of customer insights allows eHarmony to do make those connections.
Listen to customers: Organizations that listen are able to improve their customer experience.
Make changes based on feedback: Business leaders need to take customer feedback seriously and make the necessary changes.
Allow for open-ended comments: By allowing customers to speak freely, organizations can learn more about their needs and preferences.