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Focusing on Listening to Customers

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Learning Outcomes

Objectives and goalsClick to read  

At the end of this module you will be able to:

  • Listen to customer feedback (verbal, non-verbal)
  • Show customers you are listening
  • Use tools to gain customer feedback


Identify ways to listen to customer feedback

What is customer feedback?Click to read  

The foundations: Customer feedback is ANY type of information we can get (informal or formal) in relation to their interactions or experiences with our product or service.

A lack of a feedback loop means we are not in tune with our customers and what is going well or not.

N.B.: Customer feedback is critical for feedback that is BOTH positive AND negative information to help us accentuate the good and mitigate and change the things that are not (or not longer) working for us.


Customer feedback must be a dynamic process!!!

1. Gather feedback
2. Analyse and prioritise feedback
3. Decide and take action
4. Follow up with customers  

Why is listening important?Click to read  

Why should we listen to customers?

Despite the fact that it is simply “polite” to listen to those who are investing in your business, there are sound business reasons for ACTIVELY listening to customer feedback:

• Improve customer loyalty
• Increase customer retention
• Opportunities to cross-sell
• Reduce customer loss
• Showing customers they are important to you

Types of customer feedbackClick to read  

Customer feedback can be both verbalized (primary data) and non-verbalized (secondary data):

Verbalized feedback:
 - Comes in the form of direct and direct information collection from the customer
 - Customers ‘talk’ to us formally (survey, focus group) or informally (interactions with our customer-facing employees)

Non-verbalized feedback:
 - This can come through industry report; our own sales data   

** CRITICAL: we need to do SOMETHING with the data collected otherwise it is irrelevant to us

Show customers you are listening

How to listen and actClick to read  

How should we listen to customers?

• Let them talk
• Be patient, non-judgmental
• Use their preferred channels of communication, not your own
• Observe their behaviors and interactions in real situations
• Focus on their problems, not just finding a solution to your problems

N.B.: what really counts is what customers are actually experiencing, not what issues we are facing (e.g., operational); focus on the accentuate the positive, deal with the negatives 

Feedback to customers after listeningClick to read  

It is critical to demonstrate to customers that you have listened to them!  Otherwise, they can get discouraged and ambivalent towards you

• Simply asking them information shows you are listening – at least it is a start
• Make the changes they are looking for and/or explain why you cannot (close the feedback loop)
• Reward customers when providing you with information
• Follow up with a personalized “thank-you” message
• Include them in social media posts or blogs 

Use tools to gain customer feedback

Collecting informationClick to read  

It is critical to ask the appropriate questions. 

Remember: garbage in, garbage out.  Try to:

• Use a reliable and tested measure (e.g., SERVQUAL) to gain customer feedback on what you want to measure
• Avoid leading questions
• Blend quantitative (numbers) with qualitative (words) to gain better insight
• Take into account ethical considerations and General Data Protection Regulation (G.D.P.R.) when collecting data

** Avoid biases in analyzing data, no matter how it is collected; where possible gain some professional insight prior to collecting or analyzing data (avoid biases)

Formal tools (primary data)Click to read  

There are a number of tools that are available to collect data

1. Web-based: Some are freeware and others are ‘free’ up to a point.  Some of the most commonly applied tools to collect data include: 

- Google Forms
- SurveyMonkey
- Microsoft Forms
- Jotform
- Cognito Forms
- HubSpot Form Builder
-  Zoho Survey

2. “In-person” based:

- Focus groups
- Interviews
- Observation 

Formal tools (raw / secondary data)Click to read  

Raw or secondary data is also available to gain customer feedback.  Some examples include:

• Tracking customer sales over time:

- in general across your customer base 
- for specific customers

• Social media and blogs where customers and non-customers discuss issues related to our products / services

• Industry level data that is publically available for analysis

• Industry reports may be available, but many times are for a fee


Summing UpClick to read  
Key takeawaysClick to read  

  • Customer feedback is essential for short and long-term development of the organization
  • Businesses must listen to their customers and demonstrate that they are listening
  • Feedback can come from formal and informally as well as from primary and secondary sources
  • There are a number of readily available tools that can be used to collect data BUT the development of analysis of the data collected must be undertaken carefully

Test Yourself!


This session is focused on tools and techniques to actively listen to customers and the important messages they are sending to us (directly and indirectly). The focus will include both the secondary data available but also how to best collect and utilise primary data to better understand today’s customers but also tomorrow’s. Integration of effective customer listening helps to identify not only current issues but also opportunities for the future and how to pursue or resolve them as well as creating a stronger relationship with our customers leading to greater loyalty.


Feedback; active listening; data collection tools


Gordon C. Bruner II. (2021). Marketing Scales Handbook: Multi-Item Measures for Consumer Insight Research, Volume 11. GCBII Productions, LLC.

Richard K. Miller, & Kelli Washington. (2020). Retail Business Market Research Handbook 2021-2022: Vol. Nineteenth edition. Richard K. Miller & Associates