Several years ago when my company was just getting off the ground, we were on the precipice of landing our first big client. They were ready to sign, but they had one seemingly simple request before making it official – they wanted to tour our office.

We were a bootstrapped operation, which is a nice way of saying our office didn’t exactly project professionalism – each room had a different shade of carpet and different colored walls. The weekend before they were set to arrive, we rallied together to paint the office so at the very least the walls would be the same color. With the faint hint of paint fumes in the air, we closed the deal in our office and were off and running.

I tell this story not to show off my amazing painting skills, but to illustrate how much emphasis we all place on the guest experience. When guests visit your office (or customers visit one of your locations), you want it to be abundantly clear that you value their presence and are putting your best foot forward.

To demonstrate their commitment to the customer experience, many companies collect customer feedback through a variety of channels, from email forms and surveys to social listening and Voice of the Customer (VoC) programs. For too many companies, however, collecting customer feedback is a means to an end – to amass enough data to generate a Net Promoter Score (NPS). Because it provides a quick snapshot of customer satisfaction, the obsession with this rating is understandable, but ultimately shortsighted.

Here are three simple steps I recommend to get the most out of your customer feedback (and go beyond NPS).


At the most fundamental level, companies start collecting feedback to understand what customers think of their performance. From there, they can answer more questions: What service areas are most important to my customers? Are we creating a consistent experience across all locations?

Examine your process for collecting feedback. How easy is it for customers to leave a review? Is your program promoted (and even incentivized) at individual locations so that customers know about it? Are customers offered the flexibility to complete a survey on the platform of their choice (Web, phone, etc.)?

Even if you have a customer feedback or VoC program, a large chunk of the conversation is taking place outside of those channels. Social listening is key, so be sure you are tracking customer sentiment on social media and incorporating that data into your program.

Keep in mind, however, that although it is great to listen, it’s just the first step.


The accumulation of data is a fantastic resource to have at your fingertips, but you can’t just leave it in your back pocket. Companies need to engage both internally and externally.

One of our clients has done a remarkable job of orienting all aspects of its organization around customer feedback. Instead of isolating customer feedback data in their customer service department, they share the information throughout the organization. Even the executive team digests the data on a weekly basis and uses it to steer the business. Across all locations, this company is able to coach on what is most important to their customers.

It is also important to engage externally. On social media, acknowledge what you’re seeing and respond to customer experiences, both good and bad. While it seems like negative experiences dominate the conversation, those are simply a vocal minority. Our data shows that the majority of customers (over 80 percent – four in five) have a positive experience with the brands they frequent. Be sure you’re providing them the tools to brag about the great job you’re doing.


We don’t drive our cars only using our rearview mirrors, yet that is the equivalent of steering your business based on your NPS. The NPS is historical data, and you need to leverage real-time data if your intention is to take the information and drive forward.

With a deeper understanding of the customer experience provided by customer feedback programs, what steps are you taking to build more loyal customers? If you have ever wondered why brand loyalty is so valued, consider the fact that 15 percent of a business’ most loyal customers account for 55-70 percent of its total sales, according to the Center for Retail Management at Northwestern University.

Identify ways you can be proactive instead of reactive. Leverage your data to make predictive and prescriptive changes at the location level, enabling managers to get ahead of the customer and focus creating emotional connections.

Collecting feedback should always just be the first coat of paint. If you want to be considered a customer-centered organization, make sure you listen, engage and act.