Building a customer centric business only starts with asking for your customers opinions or feedback


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Creative Commons License photo credit: gatogrunge

It’s been a while since I wrote about customer surveys and feedback. Almost a year, in fact. Here’s a few of the things that I’ve written about in the past:

So, it seems appropriate to review where we are with surveying, feedback and building customer centric businesses.

Over the last year, my feeling and experience tells me that more and more businesses are starting to survey their customers and ask for their feedback.

That’s good but not so good too.

Don’t get me wrong, I think surveys and feedback systems done in the right way are great but aren’t they only the start?

Speaking to many business owners and executives who are surveying their customers, I often ask them what they have gone on to do with the results. That’s where I’ve heard various responses like:

  • Good question!
  • We packaged up the results and sent them out to the team
  • We presented findings to the Board
  • We were quite happy with our customer satisfaction numbers as it hit our targets so we haven’t done anything else
  • We haven’t done anything with the results yet
  • We’re happy with the way the numbers are
  • We have no plans
  • We’re thinking about what they mean for our business

Isn’t asking for someone’s opinion and then not doing anything substantial with it or not telling them what you are going to do following their input tantamount to not asking at all?

Follow up and follow through seems to be where there is a real issue. Recently, I found a piece of research (below) that supports this. It comes from the folks over at Customer Champions, which shows that whilst most companies do survey their customers only a small number actually follow through completely by doing something with their feedback and then communicating back to them what they have done.

customer champions survey

In my previous post: #Likeminds – Innovation and Opportunity – How to best lose your customers! – Great ideas, insight and time to reflect, Delphine Remy-Boutang defined a social business as:

“A social business is one that listens to its customers and those around it, responds, takes action and transforms”.

For me, building a customer centric organisation is a lot like building a ‘social business’. The most important parts being missed currently by many businesses are the ‘responds, takes action and transforms’ elements.

What do you think stops companies with the follow up and follow through? Is it to do with incentives, culture, perceived value, understanding, process, responsibilities…..?

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Adrian Swinscoe
Adrian Swinscoe brings over 25 years experience to focusing on helping companies large and small develop and implement customer focused, sustainable growth strategies.


  1. Adrian I couldn't agree more with you.

    When I headed up Voice of the Customer at T-Mobile UK the measurement of the customer experience was only one half of the battle! It is imperative that feedback is shared and distributed throughout the whole organisation to maximise its benefit (in a way that can drive improvement):

    – Relevant and employee specific feedback must be passed to the frontline (whatever the business sector) so that improvements to individual agents or branches can take place. Key actions around coaching agents in areas where they under perform compared to their peers should be a day-to-day activity

    – Taken to the other end of the spectrum feedback also needs to be utilised by the whole board, to guide their decisions about products, strategies and operational procedures.

    – Then closing the loop with the individual customer to advise how their feedback is being acted upon is equally as important

    Further to this, the information needs to be shared in real-time throughout the business, so that improvements can happen instantly, and not with a delay, so that customers see the changes before they decide to take their business elsewhere!

  2. Adrian thanks for writing such an important and interesting post. It’s true what you say that so many companies do nothing with their customer feedback findings. Many times I find that the feedback methodologies don’t uncover actionable data and therefore if a company’s results go up or down, no one can pin point why. I always believed that it was not necessary to conduct thousands of surveys that just touched the surface. To me having a “conversation” or a comprehensive telephone interview with a sample of 100 customers can provide organizations with detailed findings which allow them to both make and a publicize the proposed improvements that will be implemented over time. Hopefully, your terrific blog will get people’s attention. Richard Shapiro, The Center For Client Retention @richardrshapiro

  3. Hi Richard,
    Thank you so much for your comment. It points to the old adage that says focus on quality not quantity. I hope the survey professionals take your point to heart and we see a change in how we ‘converse’ with our customers.

    Thanks again,


  4. Hi Lee,
    Thanks for your comment. The thing that stood out for me in your comment was:

    “Key actions around coaching agents in areas where they under perform compared to their peers should be a day-to-day activity”

    What about recognising on a regular and consistent basis what agents have done well on in their day to day activity? Was that included in what you did too?


  5. Hi Adrian, very much so, celebrating positive feedback is very important.

    When I launched my new customer feedback solution, I was seeing around 4 out of 5 pieces of feedback that were positive and 1 of out 5 that would be used as an improvement opportunity. This was somewhat different to my outgoing survey methodology and other data sources within the business (written correspondence for example).

    I had formal and informal rewards and recognition programmes to celebrate the successes, and also made sure the positive comments were shared daily and in formal 1-2-1 sessions with agents.

    These positive responses were shared as ‘best practice’ around the Operational functions


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