Interpreting the non-verbal feedback your clients are sending your way is just as valuable as reviewing the written complaints and reviews they leave.

If you are alert to changes in revenue trends, influxes of calls relating to anything new or even to how your staff feel about your customers, you can learn so much.

Larger businesses often fall into the trap of being ‘data rich, information poor’ because they collect so many statistics but don’t have the time to analyse them in context. If you are collecting information already, then try to make the most of it and use it to underpin your customer experience objectives by setting clear and measurable targets that the data can help you track your progress against.

If you aren’t already collecting the information, now is as good a time as any to consider how you could. Whilst there will always be a place for more formal feedback tools, there is also a case to be argued for a more honest and organic approach to understanding your customers.

Start to look for all of the non-verbal cues your customers are giving you that could indicate a bigger issue. Here are just a few suggestions:

Look for signs your self-service isn’t where it should be

Sixty-seven percent of customers prefer to use a self-service option to access information or support. That means that often you will only get to speak to a customer or receive feedback if that self-service option didn’t meet their needs.

If you know that there are some key questions that your customers are contacting you to ask and these questions regularly crop up, it should tell you that you haven’t met their expectations with the provision of self-service. Consider building the answers to those questions into your web copy or look at chatbot options to answer basic FAQs.

Look at your revenue trends

Are there any annual patterns that tell you which months you should be your busiest? Are you growing your revenue in a consistent way, or are there some customers who used to spend with you regularly who haven’t seen for a while? Any change to consistent revenue should be a warning flag. Try reaching out to dormant customers to understand if they have any concerns. You might find that they tell you their expectations weren’t met, or maybe their needs just changed and they assumed your service would no longer be the best one. With 91% of unhappy customers leaving a brand without ever raising a complaint, you may not even notice your customers have gone unless you pay very close attention.

Returns or refund requests

If you receive any requests for money back you need to look at why that request has been made. Did the customer genuinely just change their mind? It’s true that on occasion someone might change their mind due to difficult financial circumstances, or perhaps when it comes to clothing they’ve ordered online and when the clothes arrived they didn’t suit them – but more often there will be an underlying service issue.

It’s crucial to understand if the customer had expectations set about the quality or delivery timeframe of a product that weren’t met, or whether they lost confidence in your brand for some other reason. Make sure you have someone empathetic and sensitive contacting your refund-requesting customers to probe a little deeper. Start the conversation with a reassurance that the refund is being processed and there is no issue with that, but that you are keen to improve where possible and it would be helpful if they could provide their feedback on what the problem was.

How do your frontline staff feel?

Frontline staff often bear the brunt of any customer dissatisfaction and as a result they are also the ones most likely to hear unofficial feedback. Customers will often make passing comments on having to wait a while for their call to answer, or how helpful Jack was when they spoke to him yesterday. It can sometimes come down to something as subtle as the tone of the customer’s voice.

Whatever form that feedback has taken it will impact on your frontline customer teams, so keeping an eye on their morale, their attendance, or their productivity can be a great way to pick up when there are bigger issues in the business. We all know there is a link between employee satisfaction and customer satisfaction, so this can be a telling area of the business to learn from. It’s also great to monitor staff wellbeing with the sole purpose of ensuring you have happy, safe and productive teams!

Everything in context

The most important thing to remember when you look at your data on call volumes, refunds or anything else you want to measure, is to make sure that it’s in context. There is no point in measuring call volumes in isolation. What you really need to know is if the calls are proportionate to the number of customers you have. When looking at refund requests, make sure you work them out as a percentage of your total customer base, or revenue. This ensures that the figures will show you easily if there is a new issue or even better, if you are improving!

However you choose to monitor your customer happiness, remember it can be dangerous to make changes based purely on your assumptions of how customers are feeling, so by all means analyse the suggested areas above – but go back to your customers to check that any assumptions you have made are valid before embarking on irreversible or costly changes.

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