Avoid Hearing Only Complaints – 2/7/17


I was meeting with a client’s leadership team recently, and we had some interesting conversations about how to measure customer satisfaction. While most in the room wanted to measure with – well…measures – one of the executives preferred to rely on subjective information – was she receiving complaints? Was she hearing from “Raving Fans” of her departments?

The problem that many in the room had to the subjective approach was this – her department was an internal service department. In other words, her department served employees, not the consumer. How many employees are going to go out of their way to rave about Human Resources? To pick up the phone and call the IT department to say “you guys are great!” To write a personal note to Finance singing their praises? The answer – not many. Few unsolicited praises come, but often unsolicited complaints can arise.

The group decided there needed to be a mix of the objective and subjective feedback. It was clear how to get to the objective feedback through surveys, but how do they get the subjective?

The answer is in the approach. When one relies on the “Unsolicited” feedback, you’ll tend to subject yourself to hearing mostly negatives, particularly if you’re an internal service department or an organization with some sort of regulatory function (like many local governments).

To get the subjective customer input, solicit. In the one-on-one contacts, ask “How was your experience in working with us today?” or “Did we address your need?” or “Did this visit meet your expectation?”

More strategically – as an organization – determine how to systematically get that subjective feedback. Hold routine customer focus groups. Have an advisory council of top customers. Have “coffee with our director” sessions. Hold the occasional customer Town Hall. Make rounds with customers for 1-on-1 meetings on a routine cycle.

Find ways to solicit the subjective feedback.

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