This Groundhog Day, Don’t Be Scared to See Your Customer Feedback Shadow

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It’s February now, which in the U.S. means the arrival of Groundhog Day. Each February 2nd, all eyes turn to a large rodent in Pennsylvania to predict the weather—specifically, how much longer winter will last.

Early Tuesday morning, famous groundhog Punxsutawney Phil emerged from his burrow. He did not see his shadow, so tradition dictates that we should expect an early spring. Had he seen his shadow, he would have retreated back into his shelter for six more weeks of winter.

So what can we learn about customer feedback from this strange little holiday?

You’ve got to look. Punxsutawney Phil won’t know if he sees his shadow unless he comes out of his burrow. In order to make their annual Groundhog Day festival a success, the Punxsutawney Ground Club members coax the famous rodent from his den in order to get a determination.

Many organizations treat their customer feedback the same way— they simply don’t look. Despite it being a rich source of data about buying trends, customer loyalty, and even possible lawsuits, customer feedback is ignored or, at best, not properly analyzed. Customer feedback comes from emails, social media, review sites, call center calls, point of sale records, and more. But you have to look at it to know if it is predicting mild customer weather or an oncoming storm.

Hiding doesn’t fix anything. If the groundhog sees his shadow, he goes back into his burrow for six more weeks of winter. That’s great for him, but hibernation won’t do your business any favors.

Instead, you should respond to customers in order to build relationships. Address concerns and fix problems. Build their requests into your roadmaps. Re-train your people and fix processes based on recurrent complaints. If you don’t act on the feedback you are getting, you might as well be sleeping

Evidence is better than anecdotes. Sadly, there is no evidence that Phil (or any of the other weather-predicting groundhogs around the U.S. and Canada) has any special powers for anticipating the start of spring; in fact, his record is worse than what would be expected from flipping a coin. The tradition doesn’t hold up to reality.

Too often “the way things are done” is based on a faulty understanding of what customers want or need. Deep analysis of customer feedback reveals the actual likes, dislikes, and desires of your customers, so you can make business decisions based on facts, not traditions.

The Groundhog Day legend makes for a fun annual celebration and inspired a great movie. Let’s be inspired by the groundhog to face our shadows and take action on customer feedback— or we’ll just keep repeating the same mistakes, over and over and over. Break the cycle, emerge from hibernation, and spring will come early for your business, no matter what the groundhog sees.

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