Why You May Not Have A Clue What Your Customer Thinks (And What To Do About It)


Shep Hyken, Contributor

May 8, 2015

In the courtroom, eyewitness testimony is often unreliable. Accounts conflict with one another. People don’t see things the same way and many times they simply don’t see the situation accurately.

It’s not all that different from the relationship between you and your customer. Here’s an example: In a recent survey of customer experience trends, companies ranked “providing more reliable online reviews” near the top of their list. Customers, however, didn’t feel nearly as strongly about online reviews.

For this survey, the market insights team from InMoment asked the same set of questions to consumers and brands regarding the customer experience. They wanted to see where opinions were similar and where they diverged. The question about online reviews provided the most glaring difference.

Since we can’t force our customers to agree with us on customer service issues, the most important thing we can do with this information is leverage it to change our own way of thinking.

At the top of the list for consumers was a desire for “shorter surveys and more listening.” If we take a moment and unpack this a little, I think it really brings some important points into focus. Let me start by highlighting something that should be obvious, but isn’t to many business leaders: Surveying your customers isn’t the same as listening to them.

Why do we use surveys? We want to gather data. We want to be able to make the broad generalizations that help us steer a profitable course for our companies. Surveys are about the company; listening is about the customer.

What’s the first thought that comes to mind when you’re presented with an online or telephone survey? I suspect it’s something like, “How long will this take?” That’s why 75% of customers refuse to take email surveys, and about 90% refuse to participate in telephone surveys, according to FluidSurveys University.

We often receive follow-up contacts from all kinds of service providers and these may take the form of a survey. Hotels send email surveys to guests. I know businesses that give their customers a follow-up phone call. I know dentists who do this as well. And a friend recently told me about a regional plumbing company that always calls him after one of their workers has been to his home.

The online hotel survey will probably let management know if a particular hotel is having some issues. A personal call from a dentist or plumbing company not only lets the provider know if there is a problem, it also serves to build the relationship.

Shep Hyken is a customer service and experience expert and New York Times bestselling author. Find more information at www.Hyken.com.

This article was written by Shep Hyken from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

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