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Thursday
Mar012012

Rethinking Your Business (Part 3)

How to review customer feedback and determine which ideas hold the most value for your business and your customers

In Part 1 of this series, we described why you need to rethink the role of technology in your business.  In Part 2, we started the rethinking process by focusing on the customer experience.  We outlined a process for listening and gathering feedback from customers.

Once you have a raw list of customer feedback, the next task is to review the list, looking for trends and common themes.  Try to turn specific requests into broader goals.  Look for the underlying problem or need being expressed.  For example, if someone asks you to send an email when their order ships, they are asking to be notified as the status of their order changes.

As you consolidate your list, don’t think in terms of a particular solution or technology.  It’s easy to get side tracked thinking of solutions, or even dismiss ideas all together because a solution is not readily apparent.  In the example above, your focus should be on notifications not sending email.  Email is one of several ways of providing notifications to customers.

Once you have a reasonably consolidated wish list, the next step is to determine which items can provide the most value to you and your customers.

For each item on your list, imagine that you have been able to solve and implement a solution.  Don’t worry about how; focus on the benefits you would receive.

  • How would it change the way customers interact with your business? 
  • Would you make more money?  How much?
  • Would it reduce your costs?  How much? 
  • Would it put you ahead of your competition?  How far? 

Does a particular idea have the potential to turn your customers in to raving lunatics for your brand, willing to stand in long lines in bad weather just to get the newest version of your product – it’s 3mm thinner! – even though they have the previous version and it works just fine?

Score each item in terms of dollars or on a scale of 1 to 10, whichever suites you better.  Again look for themes:  greater access beyond business hours, visibility into the process, notification of status, and so on.

Also look for items that resonate with your brand, business drivers, or core values.  Your customers already understand many of these and will take notice when you continue to improve them.

As you go through the exercise, some items may resonate with you more than others.  Trust your instincts and give those ideas a higher value.  Other ideas may not feel right.  Perhaps they take your business in a direction you are not comfortable pursuing.  Again, trust your instincts and give those ideas a lower value.

With any luck, you’ll end up with two or three items that stand out above the rest.  They reinforce the values of your company, address specific customer needs, and provide value to your business and your customers.

In Part 4, we’ll discuss how to evaluate and select technologies to address the top ideas you have identified and put together a business case for implementing them.