From Obama to Trump through the Dakota pipeline: the opportunities organizations used or missed to connect with their customers and the key lessons you can take and apply in your company

With so much going on in the last month, it has been hard deciding where to put our focus and at the same time keep our sanity.
From my voice of customer and customer experience point of view three news got my attention:
1) How the (former) President of the USA listened and acted on the voice of his customers, the People of the USA.
2) How emotions  and purpose are having a bigger role today than ever before in people’s buying decisions;
3) How companies listen and act upon unsolicited Voice of Customer on social media and how it makes a difference to their sales without them even realising or being able to measure it.

I would love to hear your thoughts about it.


1) The amazing Voice of Customer (VOC) program President Obama had in place

The amazing Voice of Customer (VOC) program President Obama had in place

Magnetic labels for sorting the thousands of messages the Obama White House received daily, of which 10 reached the president. Credit Damon Winter/The New York Times

You would think that the massive amount of mail sent to the White House claiming Obama’s attention on specific issues would go unnoticed or straight to the trash. In this heart-warming and inspiring article, we learn the system that Obama’s staff had in place to efficiently process daily mails and select 10 missives for the President to read.

Their system indeed ticked all the boxes for an effective VOC program (see our NPS Household model), and I especially loved the fact that Obama would read and often personally respond to these ten daily letters, which became referenced to as 10LADs.

After months of this role-model practice, many people within his team wanted to receive and read the 10LADs.
This is a genuinely inspiring story for any CEO and Executive out there…if Obama could do it so can you or your CEO! And once they see you do so, your people will follow your example!

I had never heard before of this system Obama had in place, and I found it a pity that it didn’t get more visibility as it is a best practice worth knowing about and keeping.
Do you have a similar Voice of Customer listening program in place up to your CEO? If not, what would it take to put it in place?
Bring forward this idea in your company and let me know how it goes!  



2) “Through our choices we vote everyday”

One of my managers always used to repeat to me that with each and every purchase we make, “we vote every day”.

I feel that Trump has made everyone aware of the fact that they can vote with their money, and have a bigger impact than any boycott action has ever done in the past.  An example of the impact of #grabyourwallet campaign in the USA.

In a world where an alternative exists for practically every service and products businesses in every sector need to raise their game urgently.

How is your company stepping up to this game?



3) The Dakota pipeline

obama trupm & the dakota pipeline-3 CX lessons
The Dakota pipeline case and the noise in Europe about the banks involved in its financing have made people more aware that they not only vote with the money they spend, but also with the money they save (!) because these funds are at the disposal of the banks to finance projects.

Just one of many articles on the topic (in Dutch)

Maybe it was evident to most of you, but not to me. These are the kind of things you never think about until someone triggers you to think about it.

Well, this did it for me.

So what did I do as a customer (with my VOC & CX perspective)?

I checked out on Facebook, Twitter and on the websites of the two banks I have accounts with (ABNAMRO and ING) and of the bank I have had for a while on my “radar” considering transferring my accounts to (TRIODOS).

Check out yourself how ING & ABNAmro are communicating about this.

On ING, you can’t, because readers weren’t (and aren’t) allowed to comment. The bank doesn’t seem interested in starting a conversation. In comparison, ABNAMRO invites customers to join the conversation, which renders ING choice even more disappointing!

As a customer, I reacted to both banks on Twitter and on ABN’s website

ING answer on Facebook or Twitter was super formal and just referencing to the above article. It didn’t engage me. It just made me want to leave them quicker.

And I considered leaving ING for Triodos. The only reason why I haven’t (yet), it’s that I recently got all my business accounting automated with Waveapp and that doesn’t work with Triodos yet.

Yes, you guessed it, I tweeted Triodos to introduce them to Waveapps. They responded to my tweet, off

ering to call me at my convenience, and they did.

ABNAMRO reacted to my comment and explained their part in the deal. Even if their answer is still a half truth, giving the customer the possibility of leaving a comment creates for them the chance to start a conversation with me, to be aware of my thoughts and considerations, and the knowledge that if they want me to keep my business with them they have to work harder.

Do you have the proper communication channels open to allow your customers to reach out for you with any question where and when they need your input?

Triodos, essentially, did the same as ABNAMRO: by engaging in a conversation with me, they know I’m ready to step over to them, and they also know what is holding me back. I’m now curious to learn if that insight will reach whoever needs to take action.
Speaking to one of their agents I asked if they had seen a significant increase of step-over (given that Facebook and Twitter were full of comments of people claiming they were ready to step over).
Apparently not and it wasn’t clear why.
Could it be that more people had other needs holding them back from a quick step-over?
What if Triodos offered its accounting tool as an extra feature?

Do you know what is holding your customers from choosing you over from a competitor?

Do you have the adequate listening and forwarding processes in place at your contact center so that when customers share their reason, you have ways to leverage on that insight? 

What about you?

Finally, an invite you to look at this from your perspective as citizen and customer.

Would you want your President to have a mail management system like the one of the Obama administration?

Which of these banks would you prefer to be a customer of?

Which of these banks would you feel happier and more inspired to work for?

Ultimately, it boils down again to the question: which world would you rather live in?


* Do you wish to live in a “life-centric” world, and work towards one using “life-centric and value-driven model” that puts customers, employees and value created into the business equation (rather that only focusing only on profit as the ultimate goal)? If like me, you  want to pursue a “Happiness Driven Growth” and you are looking for support with inspiring and activating this way of thinking and acting in your organization, further empowering your business engine through better customer service and better NPS/VOC programs, get in touch with me. I would love to help you!

** Customer experience is the perception customers have of the interactions with your company along every touchpoint and communication. Great customer experiences don’t happen by chance, but require the orchestration of 6 disciplines across different team. Would you like to learn more? Join our next CX Masterclass

*** Sharing is multiplying our knowledge and happiness! If you found this content valuable, hit share so we can shape together the world we wish to live in

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