Are You Finally Ready To Listen To Your Customers?

Posted: March 26, 2009 in customer loyalty
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When is the last time you asked your customers “What can we do to improve our business”? Maybe you’ve been putting off asking the question because you’re afraid of what you might hear. Few of us, especially Marketers, take criticism well. If we don’t ask the question, we won’t be embarrassed by what we hear.

The reality is that your business has many customers, loyal customers, who really want to see you succeed (we’ll call these Promoters). They’ll tell you what you do well so you can create even more loyal customers. But, you’ll also have unhappy, dissatisfied customers (also called Detractors) who will tell you how your business needs to be fixed. So, you probably have many customers who will freely tell you what to leverage and what to fix to grow you business. Are you asking the right questions? Are you listening to the answers?

Once you have these new customer insights from the Promoters, incorporate them into your marketing messages to acquire more customers. Use the Promoter feedback in your product offering, your marketing messaging, and your advertising copy. Exploit this new feedback to improve your competitive advantage and create more loyal customers. And don’t forget, loyal customers recommend you to their family and friends. They become an unpaid extension of your marketing department. These days, we can all use a bigger marketing department.

Learn from your mistakes with Detractors to fix the operational issues that are costing your company money. Detractors will dissuade their friends and family from using your business, resulting in lost sales. Detractors may be chronic complainers and high service level customers, which could be costing your company money. Listen to what they tell you about your product, service, organization or operation. It may hurt at first, but if you act on this feedback, you will be able to fix those issues that are costing you money. Use Detractors to grow your business. Call it sweet revenge.

OK, now you’re thinking to yourself, “Not more expensive research! We’re in a recession, how can I afford it? How can I manage it?” While it is true that there are large consulting firms that will gladly do this type of work for you, and charge you accordingly, there are turnkey solutions in the marketplace that are less complex and less costly to implement. These types of solutions are well suited to the small to medium size businesses that may not have the funds or human resources to undertake a broad and lengthy satisfaction study.

One such solution that I’ve been involved with (and, of course, recommend) is Consumer Contact Loyalty Monitor (CCLM). CCLM provides affordable, convenient and actionable turnkey solutions to track and measure loyalty. The parent company to CCLM is Consumer Contact, one of the largest independent data collection companies in North America, offering both CATI and Online services. With over 38 years of experience, Consumer Contact has become a leader in loyalty tracking for B2C and B2B. CCLM allows small to medium sized businesses to track and measure loyalty without the effort and expense involve with many of the large, full-size agencies.

More information on Consumer Contact Loyalty Monitor can be found at

CCLM uses the internationally recognized Net Promoter Score™ to identify Promoters and Detractors. NPS® has proven to be an effective loyalty tracking metric but it does require a supplemental survey question to uncover the real nuggets of gold needed to gain insight into your Promoters and Detractors. A simple question such as “What are the two or three things that we do well?” and “What else could we do to make you recommend us?” maybe all you need. This is the type of question that provides insight into the drivers of satisfaction for Promoters and dissatisfaction for Detractors. Use it to your advantage.

This recession can’t last forever (we hope), so now is the time to build customer relationships that will enable you to embrace the light at the end of the tunnel. Ask the right questions and implement the right actions. But, do it now, because your competition may be thinking about doing the same thing.

Keith Chapin is a Certified Net Promoter® Associate and Consultant with over 35 years of experience in research, marketing and customer insights. He can be reached at

Net Promoter, NPS, and Net Promoter Score are trademarks of Satmetrix Systems, Inc., Bain & Company, Inc., and Fred Reichheld.

  1. Neil Hartley says:

    Hi Keith,
    I enjoyed your post. The challenge most businesses face with NPS is to get from the tens of thousands of verbatim comments to a set of key drivers for promoters and detractors.
    I have just founded Top Right Corner to provide just this service to businesses.
    An outline can be found here
    Regards, Neil

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