Organizations need to find ways to remain relevant. That’s part of the reason they engage with us to develop and execute thought leadership campaigns for them.
One of the things we ask our clients is about customer feedback. What do customers say about the client’s products and services? What do they like? What do they express concerns about? We also ask sales leaders about what the most important issues are for customers. What are their customers’ pain points? What do customers need and what drives that need.
We ask that because it’s important to understand the customer’s mindset. What issues are top of mind? What do they want to hear about from the companies they do business with. We also find that if an organization has happy customers, we’re more likely to be able to develop customer case studies and get customer quotes, including executives willing to talk to the media on our client’s behalf.
But we’ve learned that just because a client has lots of customers, doesn’t mean they have happy customers. We once had an enterprise IT client that had more than 2,000 customers, and these customers continued to renew each year. Which is a great proof point. If the clients were unhappy, they wouldn’t renew. But they did renew.
The problem we found is that no customer would talk on the record because there were implementation issues. Deploying the client’s software was challenging.
Beyond the technical issues, the problem facing that client was that the sales team thought they were putting us in touch with happy customers. Instead, they put us in touch with cranky customers — because the startup didn’t invest in a feedback loop.
We had to tell the client that the customers we spoke to were not particularly happy, and that we couldn’t put them in front a reporter, who would then hear about the deployment issues.
That situation pointed to an issue that many organizations have: They don’t really know what their customers are thinking, especially after the sale. They may not know who’s happy or not, what issues customers may have with the product or services.
We currently looking to renew a subscription-based software application that was upgraded this year, and the customer didn’t know that we had two big problems, one of which was the data we had stored from prior years did not get transferred to the new platform. Then we found out they’re moving to an even newer platform when we still don’t know if the old data (which we’ve been able to continue to access) will be accessible on the latest platform. It’s frustrating, and while we have mentioned it to our sales rep, we’re also talking about renewing so the tech people may assume everything is fine and that we’re happy.
Our point in brining up our own issue is that it’s important for organizations to know how their users and customers are feeling, and they shouldn’t assume renewals are a sign of happy customers. Organizations should make sure to touch base with customers. Here’s a good article about feedback and the importance of asking open-ended feedback.
These days, you can’t assume customers are always happy.