Improve customer loyalty by ditching surveys and solving problems, including the silent ones


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I was going through some old bookmarked and saved articles whilst thinking about what to write today and came across: The Customer Aggravation Index: Predicting Customer Loyalty Without Surveys.

The author of the article, Mark Graham Brown, offers an interesting perspective where he challenges the value and use of customer surveys as predictors of customer satisfaction and loyalty.

He makes some great points and I think he is right when he says that:

  1. Most of us don’t like filling in surveys;
  2. We only fill them in when we are either very happy or very unhappy; and
  3. Surveys are a poor predictor of overall satisfaction, particularly when response rates are so low (a 30% return rate is considered good – how does your response rate compare?)

He also goes on to say that satisfaction is not necessarily a good predictor of customer loyalty given that

“Loyalty is often driven by laziness, risk aversion, habit, and a lack of better choices.”

Instead, Mark suggests that we should track the things that aggravate and upset customers as these are the things that, ultimately, will be the things that drive our customers away.

His theory is simple: track and fix one-off and persistent customer problems and that will improve your customer loyalty. Or, at the very least, reduce the level of customer churn that you have.

This is supported by another piece of research undertaken by the Temkin Group and published by Bruce Temkin on his Experience Matters blog in Customer Service Drives Sales, where they found that customers that had a better customer service experience with you are much, much more likely to buy from you again (See the chart below for more detail). I also wrote about something similar before in: Give your customer loyalty bounce by managing customer complaints better.

Customer Service Repurchase Intent

I think it is a really interesting idea and one worth considering. But, if I think about it from a customers perspective or my own (as a customer) I would ask you to consider the following:

Remember those situations, you know the ones, the ones where we have bought or experienced something where the product or service or delivery or something was not quite bad enough for you to make a complaint but it was bad enough for you to silently vow (and tell a few friends) never to go or do or use that thing or service again.

Sound familiar?

If you’ve felt this as a customer, as I have, then it’s highly likely that some of your customers may have felt this way too about your business.

So, rather than just fixing the obvious aggravations and problems, if you want your business to shine then go further and go searching for the silent aggravations too.

Thanks to markuz for the image.

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. It has been my experience that customer loyalty comes from engaging your customers with motivation and education, which will allow them buy in to what your business has to offer. Customers are searching for an interpersonal touch — that extra personalization that will tip the scales on how they view each experience.

    Digital technology has been paving the way for customer engagement. We recently completed a study, “Technology Beyond the Exam Room: How Digital Media is Helping Doctors Deliver the Highest Level of Care,” which revealed that in terms of health consumer care, three in ten U.S. consumers asserted that receiving text messages, voicemails or emails that provide patient care between visits would increase feelings of trust in their provider. Of the 66 percent of patients who have received a voicemail, text or email from a healthcare provider, many report a variety of positive outcomes. Fifty-one percent reported feeling more valued as a patient, 35 percent said digital communication improved their opinion of their provider, and 34 percent reported feeling more certain about visiting that healthcare provider again.

    Utilizing communications such as email, voicemail, text messaging, and social media on an ongoing basis can help to create and nurture a personal touch.

    I would enjoy hearing your thoughts on this topic.

    Here is a link to our studies:

    All the best,
    Scott Zimmerman, President,


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