Soliciting and Using Customer Feedback: Learning Without Annoying

Maybe it is an occupational hazard, but every time I receive service I make two rather important decisions:

  1. Does this company know how to “care for” my presenting need?
  2. Does this company “care about” meeting those needs?


I carry that evaluation process through every touch point with a brand including if/how they solicit feedback from me about their service delivery.

As someone who consults with companies on how to effectively listen and act on the feedback provided by customers, I thought it might be helpful to share a few best practices (which clearly many brands who attempt to engage me simply don’t utilize):

  1. Customer listening should be in the best interest of the customer, not the brand.  Ask questions that show the customer you want to serve them better not that you are asking them to help you build a business that will make you more profitable.
  2. Grab my pulse and respect my time.  Ask as few questions as possible. When customers take a portion of their precious time to offer their input, that time should be honored.  Get to the heart of the matter quickly.
  3. When in doubt ask the big 4. The four areas central to evaluating customer experience are: Listening, Service Accuracy, Ease, and Perceived Care.  To access these one can simply ask customers the degree to which they felt that their people “understood, got it right, cared and made it easy”.
  4. If it’s not something you can or will fix – don’t ask. Don’t ask if your parking lot is big enough, unless you are willing to invest in more parking space.  Generally customers want to know that you will turn their feedback into action which improves their life or the lives of other customers.
  5. Seek both the quantitative and the qualitative.  I love to ask customers yes or no questions or better yet questions that can be answered on a Likert scale (e.g on a scale of 1 to 10 how likely are you to recommend us to a friend or family member) but it is also important to provide open ended questions as well (e.g. How would you describe us to a friend?)


A few good questions which provide actionable quantitative and qualitative data are a springboard for immediately responding to the needs of individual customers, improving broken processes (which will improve the experiences for large groups of customers), and innovating breakthrough products and services.  In a future blog, we can talk about when and how to ask but for now if you’re not seeking for feedback this template should get you started.  For the rest of us, we might want to look through our customer surveys to assure, that we are asking about things that are “fixable” in as efficient and relevant a manner as possible.

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Joseph A. Michelli, Ph.D. is a professional speaker and chief experience officer at The Michelli Experience. A New York Times #1 bestselling author, Dr. Michelli and his team consult with some of the world’s best customer experience companies.

Follow on Twitter: @josephmichelli

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