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You Have Two Ears and One Mouth


Have you heard this saying? My grandma would say this when I was younger, and I thought of it recently as it relates to customer service.

When companies ask customers for feedback, it’s important to listen. Not just to the good, but the not so good feedback. Your most unhappy customers are often times the best way to learn how to improve.

Of course, you’ll sometimes get the “always unhappy” customer that likes to complain for the sake of complaining, and will never be happy. Or, a customer who complains for the sake of getting free items on future visits. But, when you use your two ears carefully, you can uncover some good information for improvement.

There are a few ways to go about looking at your feedback for pain points and areas for improvement:

1. Overall data: is your overall feedback positive, negative, or neutral? Has it changed over time, or does it tend to change seasonally (ie at holiday shopping time, for example)? Looking for the trends will help you pinpoint where your company may need to make adjustments. For example, if you see satisfaction declining during the summer months, take a closer look to see what factors may be contributing to this – is staffing more difficult due to many employees taking time off, leaving customers without adequate help on the sales floor? Was there an influx of new hires, resulting in slower service as they learn the ropes? Identify trends and look for reasons behind the dips and work to find solutions to overcome this next time.

2. Find common themes: sometimes this is more difficult when there are not open ended questions on the feedback survey, but often times you can identify trends in service, products, or features that are causing issue for your customers. For example, do you get a lot of feedback on your loyalty program? If you see trends on customer difficulty/dissatisfaction with the program, take a closer look to see what might be going on. You can then possibly create a customized feedback survey that only goes to your loyalty card members to ask more in depth questions about their opinions and dig deeper into overall perception and features that may need to be revised.

3. Push the neutrals to the next level: while those customers who provide neutral feedback aren’t dissatisfied, they can be a great source for learning. These are the customers that are satisfied and will probably return, but they aren’t “wowed” or exceptionally satisfied. When a good chunk of the feedback is neutral, it’s simple to create branching to take the neutrals to the next level and learn from them. Incorporate a question that is set up to add an additional question for those who rate the service as neutral – ask them what would improve future visits, or more broadly, what would make them change their satisfaction to “exceptional.” The suggestions provided could be a great learning tool, and you could get ideas you’ve never thought of before!

Use those two ears carefully and listen for what is not being said as well. By employing an effective feedback survey and taking the information to dig deeper, you will learn some important information about your customers while learning how to continually improve.


Is Your Open Door Policy REALLY Open?


I was talking with a friend recently about some troubles she is having at work. She works for a larger company who promotes their “open door” policy – if an employee is having a hard time or needs guidance on handling work situations, they are encouraged to contact corporate to get the help they need.


Sometimes, while thinking the door is really open, it can be only partially open and jammed from the other side it seems.


As the story goes, there was an issue at work. My friend had a conversation with her direct manager and the issues went unresolved. After another attempt, she went to the store manager for help, again with the same result. Time passed, and, not quite sure what to do from here, remembered the company’s open door policy and wanted to try that route.


What happened next was interesting. She went to the company website to send a form (she prefers email and content put into writing) and found the information about the open door policy. It took a little digging, but she was able to find the area to submit her request. So far, so good.


The first step asked if she was an employee, customer, or other (not sure what other would be though). After choosing employee, there were three options: 1) I have an issue regarding my work and need help, 2) I have a concern with something that is happening at my location, and 3) I have a general employment question. When choosing the first option, she was met with a statement along the lines of “thank you for your concern. Please talk with your direct supervisor first. If that does not resolve your issue, please go to your store manager.” That was also the case for the second option. If someone selects the third option, they could continue completing the form.


Now, I completely get this; being a larger company, I’m sure they would get a myriad of requests that could likely be handled at a lower level. However, this can send the wrong message – had there been an additional line that said, “If you have already tried the above and still have concerns, please click here to continue” it would have been better.


Essentially, employees in a similar situation could walk away with the feeling that if they follow the proper channels with regard to chain of command, so to speak, and are still having problems, the company really doesn’t want to hear about it. That may or may not be true, but this is how it could be perceived.


Think about your company’s employee policy – is the door wide open, open just a bit, or jammed shut? Take a look at it from an employee’s perspective too, to make sure that you are making the process as simple as possible, while alleviating the need to handle issues that aren’t relevant at this level, but also to make sure you’re sending the right message to those employees who are having difficulties. This can go a long way in employee satisfaction and perception.