Playing the Ponies and Customer Listening


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If you go to a horse track and intend to place bets on certain horses, you will likely end up looking at a racing form that looks something like this. My first reaction? Wow, there is a lot of data here and I’ll bet most of it is important. But, what I really need to know is which horse is going to win and how much should I bet on that horse.

Same thing happens with customer listening initiatives. There is a lot of data … answers to several questions provided by many customers. And, it is likely all important in some way. But where the rubber hits the road (or in this case, where the hooves hit the dirt) is in the analysis that is predictive (what is going to happen?) and prescriptive (what should I do about it?).

These initiatives should tell you:

1. Which customers are likely to defect and what can we do to stop them (assuming they are good customers and we want to stop them!)?

2. Which customers are likely to refer us, buy new offerings, give us additional share of wallet, etc., and what can we do to leverage and accelerate these behaviors?

3. Given our current customer experience, what is likely to happen to our market share, customer profitability, top line growth, etc., and how can we optimize those success measures?

4. Which customers are not likely to help us grow and what are the irritants causing them to refrain from helpful behaviors?

Whether you are betting on the ponies or betting resources that you can improve your growth and profitability, having the right data, analyzing it correctly and focusing on the important insights will increase your odds of success. A focus on your ultimate objective—increased shareholder value through profitable growth, rather than an artificial score like satisfaction or NPS—will point your analyses in the right direction.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Phil Bounsall
As president at Walker, Phil is focused on the development and execution of strategies and operating plans designed to enhance Walker's position as a global leader in customer strategy consulting. Phil leads Walker's efforts in the areas of business impact consulting and mergers and acquisition services.


  1. Phil, great piece and great analogy! You are 100% correct that companies need to focus more on listening to their customers than focusing on one metric like NPS. If Bank of America has listened to their customers before they added new fees instead of afterwards, they never would have infuriated their customers in the first place and created a waterfall of customer defections. Thanks again for a great and insightful post. Richard Shapiro, The Center For Client Retention @richardrshapiro


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