Why Encourage Negative Feedback to Make Customers “Sticky”?


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In most companies, the customer service department is seen as a necessary evil. With a low goal of simply meeting customer expectations, these companies miss their real goals by a sizable margin and prevent customer from becoming “sticky,” which should be the goal of every employee.

Why do so many companies view the customer service mission as only minimizing negatives rather than a significant opportunity to foster long-term relationships? I believe that is just a mindset and lack of awareness that a different approach is better. Not only should you be making amends and solving problems, but also turning these “problem customers” into raging evangelists. It is possible to accomplish these objectives with a few changes that should be championed by senior leaders and your team can institutionalize.

Your customer service culture must welcome all negative feedback and criticism. In fact, you should be asking for negative feedback rather than shying from it. Humans are social folks and do not generally enjoy listening to and passing on “bad news” because somebody is going to get in “trouble” or “heads are going to roll” in an organization. Unfortunately, this approach will likely cause customer turnover since a key problem may not be highlighted to the appropriate people who are in a position to take corrective action. Generally speaking, customer acquisition is very expensive; many technology companies spend thirty to fifty percent of revenue on sales and marketing expenses to acquire new customers.

A new mindset starts with building a culture of continuous improvement. Senior leaders must encourage and reward acts of identifying and passing along negative customer feedback no matter what the consequences are to other parts of the organization. The feedback must be well documented in writing with key details. Organizations with a commitment to superior customer service must have customer service call tracking system for this purpose so feedback can be easily shared.

If your company learns of a product or service issue, then it is always best to proactively reach out to customers. Customers will appreciate that you are proactive since it saves them time and effort. In the long run this will increase loyalty. When a customer has to call to complain they are also ten times more likely to tell a trusted friend or colleague about the experience. If your company takes the first step to communicate, you gain trust and respect. You are trying to convert customers in to evangelists so they tell their friends stories about how well you take care of them.

Zappos has made this approach a cornerstone of their culture by giving their front line customer service agents broad authority to offer replacements, upgrades, credits, etc. on the spot. Remember what it felt like the last time that you were amazed and delighted by a company. You can do that with your customers and they may become a lifetime evangelist generating a lot more revenue. Creating and nurturing product evangelists is the best form “viral marketing.” Ultimately, the result is that you will amaze and delight your customers every time they call you with a complaint. You will probably endear them to you for more years than your competitors and you will achieve the goal of making them “sticky.”

Show Customers You Really Want to Know What They Think

Surveying your customers regularly is a must for customer service to help you get access to negative feedback. Your customers may be surprised when you ask them for unsolicited negative feedback. The reason is that other companies are not doing this in-depth discovery of their level of satisfaction. There is sometimes latent pain that is not really on the service and need some probing to uncover. Train your customer service team on how to “peel the onion” with customers so they can find out their needs and pain points, as those might not be obvious. It is especially true with long time customers who may just accept the feature/functionality limits of your product or service.

Regular customer satisfaction surveys provide valuable data from a broader selection of your customers and acting upon this feedback. This method, which you can employ using your call customer service software, will drive customer satisfaction and loyalty to higher levels. For example, according to 2014 survey by the Help Desk Institute, 21 percent of their members send customer satisfaction surveys with every closed service request:



Continuous Customer Survey Sampling


As Needed Customer Survey


Annual Customer Satisfaction Survey


Do Not Conduct Customer Satisfaction Surveys


Quarterly Customer Satisfaction Survey


Daily Customer Satisfaction Survey


Weekly Customer Satisfaction Survey


Semi-Annually Customer Satisfaction Survey


Monthly Customer Satisfaction Survey


Source: HDI Practices Survey 2014

Regular surveys generate consistent customer feedback loops, which in turn build long-term customer loyalty.

Can I Quote You on That?

Finally, after you have amazed and delighted your customers, after you have surveyed them to understand their pain points and anticipate their needs, ask them to tell the world what they think. Encourage them to use social media to fuel “word of mouth” marketing. You have earned the respect and loyalty of your customer, now let them help you share their story through articles with photos, and testimonial quotes. Use the power of the Internet to spread the word. (We do, in our own Customers section on our website.)

If you are carefully listening and acting on negative customer feedback, surveying customers regularly to anticipate their changing needs, and letting them help you tell your company’s success story, then you will find these investments in customer service will pay dividends and increase customer stickiness.

Ron Avignone
Ron Avignone founded Giva in 1999 and is based in Silicon Valley, California, serving customers worldwide. Giva was among the first to provide a suite ofhelp desk and customer service/call center applications architected for the cloud. Ron holds an MBA from the University of Chicago and is a New York State Certified Public Accountant with a minor in English. Ron is also an avid endurance athlete, vegan and mindfulness advocate.


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