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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.


Author: Ann Michaels & Associates

Ann Michaels & Associates has been providing customer experience measurement services since 1998. We provide a full range of services to meet the needs of all industries and company sizes, including mystery shopping, customer and employee feedback services, and social media management.

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