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Marketing, customer satisfaction and loyalty
Satisfied customers will follow you everywhere

Customer satisfaction : are executives listening to their clients?

In the field of customer satisfaction, few techniques are as powerful as talking with clients to understand what their problems are.
Yet very few executives still have this sense of proximity with their customers. The bigger the organization the farther the top management. Do they read customer complaints ? Probably not. Do they talk to dissatisfied customers ? Probably not.
Some organizations have symbolically added a “customer seat” in the executive room but it remains empty. Executives get only figures about satisfaction and dissatisfaction; not real feedback. And this is a big mistake.

Getting feedback from real customers presents several benefits :

  • executives will experience what dissatisfaction really means and will get a sense of how bad their service or product sometimes can be. How would they get that information otherwise ? Do you really think middle-management will pass that kind of information on to the next level ?
  • Complaining customers will feel treated well if they can speak to an executive. Multiple studies have proved the positive effect of talking to and venting frustration on managers
  • The quality of feedback you can get during a one-to-one interaction with an unsatisfied customer is invaluable. Sometimes your customers have ideas your best marketers will never come up with. That’s for instance why co-creation techniques were launched using so-called “lead-users”



Building bonds with customers goes beyond the mere “Empty Chair” that executives may have in their board meeting room. The “Empty Chair” is here to remind top-managers that the customers is missing in the room. But if the customer is missing how can executives faithfully rely on reports, figures, provided by others to take sound decisions ?

We urge executives to go on the floor and talk to customers, especially dissatisfied ones. One very simple initiative is to pick-up the phone and call customers who have given bad evaluations in a customer survey (look for instance at this example of DKV which did not leverage bad evaluations on a satisfaction survey).


Image : shutterstock

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Pierre-Nicolas est Docteur en Marketing et dirige l'agence d'études de marché IntoTheMinds. Ses domaines de prédilection sont le BigData l'e-commerce, le commerce de proximité, l'HoReCa et la logistique. Il est également chercheur en marketing à l'Université Libre de Bruxelles et sert de coach et formateur à plusieurs organisations et institutions publiques. Il peut être contacté par email, Linkedin ou par téléphone (+32 486 42 79 42)

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