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What You “Know” About Your Customers Probably Isn’t True

Jim Tincher Jim Tincher 06/27/2019
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I received a call from a CX leader wanting to drive action in her program. I discussed how we use the voice of the customer to create an organizational drive to act, and she stopped me to say “We don’t need more voice of the customer. We know what customers want.” I asked her what Voice of the Customer (VoC) she had, and she referenced how her executives regularly talk with customers. But nobody else does. So, they “know” what customers want.

It’s not a new story. “We know what customers want. We just need to execute.” You probably hear the same story every time you ask for VoC research or measurement.

To determine how truthful this was, we decided to conduct some analysis. We took our last seven projects and looked at how well our clients predicted the eventual customer findings. The clients represented a broad range, with four with at least $5 billion in revenue (one being in the Fortune 10), and three under $1 billion.

One of our first steps in journey mapping is to conduct a Hypothesis Mapping Workshop. In this workshop, we ask employees to take the role of a customer and identify her steps, who she interacts with, and her emotions. We then have the team identify the three most important steps in her journey – those critical moments that make or break customer loyalty. Identifying these “Moments of Truth” is one of the most important outcomes of journey mapping, as these must-win moments have the most impact on customers’ perceptions of the journey.

What did we find?

First, there’s no alignment. Clients identified from six to ten “three most important moments in the journey,” averaging 8.3. Everybody “knows” the customer journey – but what they know differs across silos. We all have our own version of the customer’s journey, and until we bring in the voice of the customer, we don’t know who’s right.

Second, even with all those different most critical moments, most companies miss what really matters. The average journey had 4.6 Moments of Truth identified by customers (personas may have different Moments of Truth, increasing the overall number), but clients identified only 1.7 of them.

In other words, nearly 2/3 of the customers’ most important interactions weren’t identified as critical by our clients. Even when companies identified way more hypothesized critical moments than existed, they still failed to identify what was most important to customers.

We know this can’t be unique to our clients. So, as we announced yesterday, we’ve created a contest. We’re looking for the “best” examples of inside-out thinking. Go to our survey and share your favorite example of companies who clearly thought they knew what customers wanted, but got it wrong. The top 3 entries will win a copy of our book. We can’t wait to see your responses! Enter the contest here.

P.S., here’s the detail behind our analysis:

# of Hypothesized Moments of Truth How many actual MOTs? How many correct?

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