The Disconnect Between Remote Customers and Remote Staff

Data

Clarity received a call from VP of Marketing of a global company. He was receiving complaints from large, remote customers about product problems.

Simultaneously calls arrived from New Product Development staff about customers misusing these same products and then complaining about quality.

The VP knew their products were of consistently high quality. He also knew that in their highly competitive space the loss of customer loyalty would be a death knell for sales, from which it would be hard to recover, no matter how much was spent on Marketing.

He was having a great deal of trouble establishing, in his words, the “real truth” because customers and employees each believed themselves to be right and honest.

He requested that Clarity conduct a round of carefully selected interviews with customers and employees to discover the truth and demonstrate to customers that he and his company were listening and “on it now”.

Insight

  • From initial interviews Clarity determined that many of the features and benefits of new products were driven as much by the employee’s enthusiasm for the products as they were by the customers’ business needs; in frustration, customers resorted to claiming “the product doesn’t work” as opposed to the actual “the product doesn’t meet my need”.
  • Although there were mechanisms for the developers to capture the customer needs data, it did not provide them with a sense of the customers themselves, nor the realities of the customers’ business world; They had no real sense of the customers themselves or their daily use of the product.
  • The disconnect between remote employees and remote customers was so problematic that customer loyalty was threatened.

Action

  • Conduct employee and customer interviews to a.) clearly separate “the product doesn’t work” complaints from “the product doesn’t meet my need” complaints; b.) capture what the customers (end users) really wanted; and c.) understand the realities of the employees’ daily work and the demands of their jobs.
  • Create interview-driven, edited, web-based presentation (multimedia) through which the customers and the employees could remotely experience each other.
  • Use the presentation in facilitated staff meetings at both employee and customer sites to transform the VP of Marketing’s situation from resolving complaints to building Clarity and customer loyalty by transforming the connection between customers and New Product Development.