Listening to your customers

Customer service is based on truly understanding what your customers need from you. That sounds simple, as leaders you understand higher education. You have studied and worked in the field and made contributions. Yet, that exact experience and expertise often ends up filtering or distorting a true awareness of what higher education customers need and want. Our view from inside the system is different from our customer’s view of the system. As the old saying goes, “a fish in water doesn’t know it’s in water.”fish in water

An example of this occurred when I was consulting with a team of health care leaders on improving patients following their treatment plans. We focused on providing in-depth education and detailed background information. We then asked a group of patients what would help them follow their treatment plan and they asked for a simple ½ page visit summary that they could put on their refrigerator! A big ah ha for us to “get out of the water” and listen to our customers.

Bianca Male, from the BusinessInsider Group, provides a nice summary of proven methods for listening to customers.

1.      Surveys – identify what you are doing right or wrong.

2.      Focus groups – describe why things are happening.

3.      Observation – understand how your customers behave.

4.      Customer satisfaction data – identify trends.

5.      Social media – instant feedback and two-way relationships.

6.      Your website – direct feedback on specific issues.

Each of these methods can help you identify customer needs and build a culture that responds to the true needs of your customers.

Todd Thorsgaard


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