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All the money in the world that you throw at that Net Promoter survey won’t do any good if there’s not a commitment to do something about what you hear. Yes, customer listening is as old as the hills. Unfortunately many corporations’ ears are full of wax. If you’re really serious about becoming a customer action hero, then start doing these things:

1. Find out: Is the customer commitment real?

Is your commitment to customers real or a jockeying for position on the latest customer score board?

You’ve got to know if the commitment is there inside your organisation. Determine if the appetite exists for digging into the operations of the business to make changes based on what you hear from customers. Are leaders ready to drive accountability, provide political air cover and insist on the corporate patience to do the work?

2. Elevate customer counting as a strategic priority of the business

Right now, you can probably recite where you are in meeting your sales goals. Do you know as much about your customer goals?  These are the counts of customers in and customers out, a clear accounting for customers by revenue group, customers who renewed with you and why and an active accounting of ‘Promoters’ and ‘Detractors’ by customer segment. You need to recast the language of your business to be about defining your customers as the asset of your business. In my book, ‘Chief Customer Officer’, I call these the ‘Guerrilla Metrics’ because you sometimes need to wage a campaign to power the customer into the strategic conversations about how business success is defined.

3. Use your first round of feedback to prioritise and fix the top 10 things bugging your customers

To a large degree, sometimes inactivity from the survey data exists because people don’t know what to work on. Certainly in reviewing the data, everything seems broken. Whenever I ask customers questions, I always want to ask them how we are performing, but also how important the area is to them. That way, you can assemble a triaging system for the issues you’ve heard from customers. And by knowing the issues most prevalent, you can prioritise and focus the issues.

4. Conduct a monthly customer loss review

On a monthly basis, gather a list of detractors and customers who have left. Then engage company-wide leaders to call 5 – 10 of these customers. This gets the voice of the customer in the ear of leaders who need to understand the nuances of your operation that are driving the wedge that either makes them detractors or drives them away. Compile the customer profitability information relative to these customers so there is a clear understanding of their impact to the business. Then, monthly or quarterly, run a meeting to discuss, diagnose and attach accountability for resolving the issues. I can guarantee you; the memory of hearing customers expressing their pain from the treatment, combined with knowing the ROI impact will inspire action.

5. Use public accountability to drive the action

Public accountability can be a powerful approach for getting action on what you hear from customer surveys, customer complaints and feedback from the web. Simply designate a room to be ‘The Customer Room’. On the walls, map the customer experience, corresponding metrics, the trending of your customer issues, what you are hearing from customers on the web and the top ten operational metrics related to the biggest issues your customers want fixed.

On a quarterly or monthly basis, the CEO and leaders should walk the room, standing before each category of information, then asking ‘Why is this happening, who will fix it, and when?’ When the data is organised by region and/or operational area, the friendly horse race motivates people to move up on the stack rank of performance.  Most importantly, this monthly or quarterly action moves the customer conversation into the everyday operational language of the business. This is when you get traction.

Find out more about Jeanne, at CustomerBliss.

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About Jeanne Bliss

Jeanne, a keynote speaker and best-selling author, has spent 25 years leading the customer experience for Lands' End, Coldwell Banker, Allstate, Mazda and Microsoft. She founded CustomerBliss in order to create clarity and an actionable path for driving the customer loyalty commitment into business operations.

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