How to Hear What Your Customers Won’t Tell You

speak no evil
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How often do you take the time to listen to your customers—even if they’re not talking to you?

After dropping my daughter off at day care yesterday morning, I was empathizing with another parent about the inconvenience of events scheduled during the work day.  I’ll skip recapping the conversation, because that’s not what matters.  What matters is that a scant four hours later, I was opening up an email from the director of my daycare center that essentially said, “I overheard your conversation. We want to change things. Help us.”

Some may be turned off by that type of eavesdropping, but for me it was fantastic.  So many business owners, managers and leaders walk by or read conversations happening about their company, perhaps feeling like it’s an intrusion to listen if they weren’t invited to the conversation.

If your customers are talking about you or your company in a hallway or public forum online, they want to be heard.  And if something needs to be changed or fixed, they want you to do something about it.

So how do you belly up to the bar (or day care) and become part of the conversation?

1.       Make it easy for customers to talk to you. Open and easy dialogue is the quickest way to learn what your customers are thinking, whether it’s good or bad.  If they have negative feedback, making it easy to talk to you may keep them from sharing it elsewhere.  If it’s positive feedback, this type of experience may make them more likely to share!  Win-win.

2. Employ listening tools. Even with well published contact information, some customers will always go to the web or their own network before they talk to you.  You need to make sure that you have the right tools in place to monitor social networks to understand what is happening around your brand.

3. Communicate back. Let your customers know they’ve been heard and what you’re doing with and/or about the feedback you’ve gathered.

4. Follow through. Do what you say you’re going to do.  And then communicate that you did it.  Taking credit for changes made due to customer feedback is not only okay—it’s smart.

Do you have any favorite tools or tactics you use to collect customer feedback?  Share in the comments!


Photo credit goes to Stillsearc at


  1. Awesome discussion about listening. I’ve definitely experienced moments when a problem of mine could have easily been solved by a manager or owner with the slightest bit of perception. I definitely mentioned your post in the blog I write for, though I added a personal story of mine that I thought fir the topic quite well. Here’s the link if you want to check it out:

  2. Thanks Graydon. Great follow-up article as well! I liked your take on the situation-I’ve had the same experience with a standard “manager visit” at a restaurant!

    The number of social spaces that exist, both physically and virtually today, give business owners and employees a great advantage in heading off potential issues before they become a true problem!

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