Amid the growing dialogues about digital experience, your customer data has the power to make or break your business. But what happens when your customer goes silent on the data?

The silence of your customer is a deadly threat to your business’s future stability. It is an early indicator of their dissatisfaction either with your product or service. 

The quiet and disgruntled customer pays attention to the sales experience. They narrate their dissatisfaction to their friends and relatives. This customer purposely chose not to provide feedback and discontinue business with your brand. Unfortunately, they have the potential to disrupt your brand’s image.

“For every 27 dissatisfactions experienced by American consumers, only 1 is voiced in the form of a complaint to the company. But the 26 silent customers don’t stay that way for long—they each tell another 10 about their unhappiness”

Sam Deep and Lyle Sussman in ‘Smart Moves for People in Charge’.

Around 90% of mute consumers will shop around because of their unresolved dissatisfaction. Former CEO and President of Amazon, Jeff Bezos says “If you make customers unhappy in the physical world, they might each tell six friends. If you make customers unhappy on the Internet, they can each tell 6,000.” 

A silent customer need not necessarily have a bad experience with your company. In reality, you simply do not know what they are thinking and  what it will take for them to participate more. 

Identify the silent customers

It is likely that most firms are mistaken when it comes to gauging their popularity with customers. This is due to the existence of muted consumers. Hence, the identification of this segment of buyers becomes all the more crucial. 

Let’s try to understand this with a simple 5 W approach:

  • WHO are your silent customers? 
  • WHAT are the reasons behind their silence?
  • WHERE do these customers disappear?
  • WHY do they cease to do business with your brand?
  • WHEN does your company suspect customers turning silent? 

This is critical to know what your customers are you telling you vs. what they’re doing when they’re interacting with your business touchpoints. Many times, companies go very tactic when it comes to understanding customer insights. They tend to miss the empathic and emotional aspect of customers. 

While silent customers create a negative impact on your business, they can also be a viable resource. Once you dig deeper and understand their concerns, gather feedback, and communicate effectively with them, you feel less threatened and more empowered. 

Early indicators for identifying your silent customers

Identifying silent customers involves taking a closer look at your data patterns through the touchpoints in the user journey maps. The safe way to have an overview of your customers’ history within a company is to apply CRM software (customer relationship management). Contemporary CRM helps to track customer specific KPIs. This enables you to acquire a well-defined look at the customers’ journey maps. 

The important thing is to start early. Identify indicators and focus on the right set of metrics. Let’s understand more about the earliest indicators: 

1. Decreasing customer engagement

This can be noticed easily when a customer decreases the time spent on your website; decreases the number of customer service tickets created; or simply downgrades the services. When a customer interacts less with the business, they are less likely to stick around. 

2. Product – price discontentment

It all boils down to product value. If your competitor provides better value at a lesser price- your customers are bound to renounce. Keeping an eye on your immediate market is often an effective way to reduce churn in a monopsony. If it takes longer for a customer to see the value in your product, then that’s a warning signal. If a product is beyond their price point, they leave – often silently.

3. Analysing the drivers of churn

In a volatile market, churn is inevitable. When it starts to reflect on your graphs- it’s time to step back. Analyse and relaunch with the “correction of error”. Business leaders must engage in pattern recognition of the churned accounts and facilitate new processes. This should involve stakeholders across teams being streamlined to make an impact that could proactively prevent future churn.

How to turn your silent customers into the most loyal ones

If a customer has conducted business with you, it is definite that they have something to say. All customers are willing to pass feedback if it is straightforward and less complex to do so. For example, creating customer engagement loops that make it easier for customers to relay concerns is an effective way to understand their emotions. With engagement loops, you’re constantly encouraging all customers to be proactive. At the same time, you’ll make them feel valued. 

silent customers becoming loyal ones
  • Personalise. People like experiences tailored to their preferences. Therefore, so must be the feedback process. For example, a customer dining at a restaurant is not impressed. When the waiter asks for feedback, he nods and walks away never to return. It was the easier option than having to explain what went wrong. But if the restaurant reaches out with a personalised message, notification, or calls enquiring for feedback, the customer might be more open and comfortable sharing their experience. 
  • Predictive. To make earning back your customers more frictionless, companies have to be predictive in their approach. This should become easy once you know your customer personally. For instance, notify your customers that it’s almost time for them to restock their favourite products. This process of anticipating your customer’s needs will make them feel more connected, and make engagement effortless.
  • Proactive. Companies have to be proactive – especially when they want their silent customer to engage with them. This means offering something that makes them feel special. For example, incentivising an unpleasant experience with coupons or offering an additional discount. Perhaps adding a gift voucher or free subscription every time they provide feedback. These are some ways to make the experience better.
  • Pervasive. Your customer support should be streamlined in an omnichannel manner that allows the customer to be able to interact with you across channels. The user experience should remain for interface, personalisation, and quality of service. This requires an omnichannel approach to customer services across all devices and modes of interaction. 

How to understand the voice of the customer

Some people are intrinsically vocal about their wants and needs. While for some, it may be quite the opposite. But understanding the voice of the customer (VoC) goes beyond that. What customers want is not always what will meet their needs. Therefore, you need an insight team that can understand human behaviour.

Analysis of VoC must be done by companies to understand their tacit needs behind the silent VoC. This will also help in unravelling a synthesis of several implicit needs beyond the customer’s articulated wants. 

The silence of a customer is the red signal which requires action. But navigating it is more of a roadmap into your customer experience journey than a destination. Even if the response rate is low initially, it will yield valuable insights over time. It will emerge patterns that can create a better sense of trends to incorporate into your CX roadmap.  

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