Customer experience competency: Customer listening

This is a guest post from Jeanne Bliss — customer experience expert and author of “I Love You More Than My Dog.” See the original post this is adapted from and more like it on her blog.

Every day customers tell you about what’s broken and what’s getting in the way of their wanting to do more business with you.

Every day thousands of comments and feedback come in through your company pipes. But are you:

  • tracking it?
  • prioritizing it?
  • attaching accountability by area to the problem?

Surveys are important, but there are many opportunities to listen in on what customers have to say about the experience you’re delivering to them. If you wait for the survey results or rely only on the data within surveys, then you miss the simplest, most easily understood feedback — customer listening.

Listening to customers is where you get the granularity of information to understand why you don’t have more customers who want to recommend you. Customer feedback will enable you to get operational very easily.

Identify your opportunities for unaided (volunteered) customer feedback

  • Where do customers give you feedback that you should capture and trend?
  • How do you track and manage that data today?
  • What systems do you use?

Evaluate how you’re doing with aided listening

  • Do you use survey results to validate what you already know and are acting based on real-time, unaided customer feedback?
  • Do you put the right emphasis on understanding what is causing the survey score? (Or are you focused on the score?)
  • How much are you looking over your shoulder at competitors?
  • How rigorous are you in ensuring that there is ownership and operational relevance to how action is taken based on the survey results?
  • Do you connect the survey feedback to the other information you know about customer experiences to inform and drive action or do you react to survey scores in isolation?

Determine Your Listening System

Collecting and organizing the information is important to prevent “one off” fixes and to attach issues to the appropriate stage in the customer experience. You need to determine how you can connect all of these listening “pipes” to take advantage of the information that enables you to trend and track it. (This includes discussing the IT implications of “buying” vs. “building” a listening system.)

By having “everyday” listening feedback, you loosen your reliance on surveys. You can take real-time action and also gain focus on the things that really matter.

About Jeanne Bliss

As “Chief Customer Officer” for Lands’ End, Mazda, Coldwell Banker, Allstate, and Microsoft, Jeanne got “customer” on the strategic agenda, earned 98% loyalty rates, and changed experiences across 50,000-person operations. Jeanne now runs CustomerBliss to create an actionable path for profitability and business growth -- through earning customer and employee raves. Her best-selling books are Chief Customer Officer and I Love You More than My Dog: Five Decisions that Drive

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