How to Optimize Customer Feedback


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Optimizing customer feedback is one of the most straightforward ways to garner the momentum for customer focus, yet most companies don’t do it in an organized way. You don’t need to spend millions on a “satisfaction” survey. All you have to do is listen to customers tell you what is broken and fix it.

The information your customers are taking the time to give you are the broken things that are in the way of your reliability. The broken things are inhibiting your ability to create a unified customer experience. You have the information right at your fingertips if you’d only listen for it.

Here’s what usually happens with corporate customer listening:  Customer service hears the complaints day after day, year after year. A decision is made that surely the company will want to know the volume and trend with which customers are delivered these sub-par experiences. This material is compiled in a report and sent to executives, yet little action results from the compilation.

To interrupt quarterly sales goals with customer issues, you must translate them to include numbers, totals, counting, and competition. Unless you’re in a place where the leadership shares your customer passion, you need to find a way to collapse masses of information acquired from customers into a system of issues that can be tracked and accounted for.  There must also be an exercise that clearly assigns the categories of comments to operating areas of the company.  As the results are reported, the operational areas can be held accountable with the ebb and flow of customer issues attached to their area. This is a reliable and public forum for who is doing well and who is not. Now you will turn some heads and drive some action.

Read More:  How to Hold Operating Areas Accountable for Incoming Feedback

Build a Listening and Understanding Engine

1. Create Uniform Categories for Reporting
A major “culture boost” activity will occur in the simple action of getting everyone to agree on the categories for collecting information for reporting. With many clients, we automate the collection of this information into the call center’s software program for consistency, and with other high volume places where customers volunteer information. By focusing here first, within a month, you can have a decent tracking mechanism to identify the issues bugging customers.  Remember don’t worry about it being the best right away – just get started.

2. Collapse All Incoming Customer Complaints and Comments into a Monthly Trending Report
To get traction for a financial services client, one of the first things we did was to collapse all of the incoming customer complaints and comments into a monthly trending report. Suddenly the areas of the operation could see the big issues emerge based on the volume.  This moved action way beyond what was being done before –  reading letters from upset customers in the executive committee meetings.  That seemed too ‘soft’- but there was no hiding from the volume of multitudes of customers being upset about a set of common issues!

3. Identify and Prioritize the “Cracks in the Foundation” that Emerge
Somewhere along the way, we came up with the term “cracks in the foundation” to define this ever-growing list and it stuck. This was the list of priority issues that had to be fixed before we could move on to other actions.

People could make the connection that the foundation of our offering to customers was being compromised because of lapses in how we executed the different functions of business. Once that was understood, we determined how many of the “cracks” we could fix each quarter or year. Then the operating vice presidents responsible for improving these issues were made accountable for fixing them, which in turn removed them from the issues being reported by customers.

You can’t leapfrog over fixing these issues. Resolving the day-to-day bugs in the system are critical to creating customer experience reliability.


Republished with author's permission from original post.


  1. Very practical and actionable advice, Jeanne. The efforts you describe are great for a SMB to get on tomorrow, but are very applicable even to orgs looking at multi-thousand dollar VoC and analytics solutions(as I have done in the past) since the resultant learnings and socialization will absolutely come into play regardless of what product is ultimately put into place.

    I realize it’s maybe a bit outside scope of what you’re discussing here, but I would emphasize the chasm/leap which exists between the gathering/collection of feedback and how all of this data drives insight and action(e.g. informing the product roadmap, prioritized bug fixes and feature requests). As you noted, it can be a challenge to interrupt quarterly sales discussions so it’s necessary for us to align and tie all of these insights to what matters most to the business — speak the CxO language to get their attention. WE have to connect the dots for them else all we’ve really done is create a bunch of reports : )



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