Truly Listening to Your Customers

Customer Experience

Truly Listening to Your Customers

Ray Poynter
Ray Poynter
August 17, 2023
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Customers aren't just statistics, they are real, unique individuals.

Customers are at the center of every business, they are the reason we thrive or fail.

In our quest to operationalize our processes to improve the customer experiences, we have historically defaulted to numerical scoring systems. With the key example being the Net Promoter Score (NPS):

NPS works by asking customers a single question: "How likely are you to recommend our products or services to others?"

While these metrics provide us with a high-level overview of customer engagement and satisfaction, they typically fail to represent the customer's voice, and they don’t reflect the diversity of individual experiences.

Scoring systems have been in use for decades, shifting from straightforward customer satisfaction, to NPS and measures such as customer effort. They are straightforward, easily comparable, and translate complex interactions into digestible data.

However, they carry a fundamental flaw – they are inherently centered around the vendor's perspective. Businesses determine what to measure and how to measure it, leaving customers to fit their feedback into predefined categories and boxes.

Using numbers to score our customers hides the richness and diversity of customer opinions and experiences. But customers are more than a number on a scale. We can and should do better.

Listening to People – The Untapped Potential

A listening-focused approach allows us to gather direct feedback, in customers' own words, capturing their real thoughts and feelings, along with their frustrations, hopes, and wishes.

In the past, listening has required more effort than just assigning scores. It has typically required humans to read the responses or listen to recordings to understand the messages.

Or, it has required bespoke software, expensively trained to a specific market.

We have known for a long time that using open-ended responses allows us to access findings that are not apparent in numerical data. But the extra work and cost of adopting a listening approach has tended to hold us back.

The Power of Text Analytics

The innovation that has opened-up true listening is text analytics:

Text analytics processes open-ended feedback, reviews, social media posts, emails, and other written customer communications to derive meaningful insights.

By using text analytics, we can "listen" to our customers on a scale never possible before. Text analytics allows us to review large amounts of open-ended comments to extract themes, trends and meaning,

Text analytics can be utilized in customer experience in several ways:

  • Understanding Sentiments:  Sentiment analysis assesses whether a piece of text is expressing positive, negative, or neutral sentiment. This enables us to gauge overall customer sentiment beyond mere scores.
  • Identifying Themes:  Text analytics can do content analysis to identify recurring themes or topics in customer feedback. Thematic analysis helps us uncover underlying issues or strengths in our product or service that we might not otherwise have been aware of.
  • Prioritizing Themes:  By assessing the frequency and sentiment of specific topics and themes, text analytics can help organizations prioritize which issues need the most urgent attention.
  • Personalizing Responses:  By understanding (listening to) individual feedback, businesses can offer more personalized and effective solutions, enhancing the customer experience. For example, by echoing back people’s actual words in conjunction with the remedies.

Building Text Analytics into Customer Experience Programs

Using text analytics doesn't mean discarding scoring systems entirely.

The starting point is to ensure that customers have the opportunity to express themselves, which is more likely to be enabled by using open-ended questions. As well as allowing people to express themselves, we want to be able to interpret their responses, so we need to design our questions in ways that elicit full responses rather than single words or short statements.  

Once the discursive elements are in place, we can add some key numerical elements to help structure the text analytics. This is where scales such as NPS or customer effort complete the picture.


Customers aren’t just numbers on a scale. People are unique, they have individual experiences and valuable insights to share. One customer who scores a 7 may be talking about an abject failure. Another customer might score a 7 because it exceeded their expectations and reflected a positive trade-off.

Customer experience is not about averages, it is about matching experiences to individuals. The shift from scoring customers to listening to customers opens up the next generation of customer experience.

How Platform One is Putting Listening into Action

Most experience programs are either completely self-service or so complex they rarely get implemented properly. At Platform One, our human-centric approach coupled with our world class platform, sets you up for success. We provide strategic advice, program management and hands on support, to help you can get the most from your software and deliver exceptional human experiences.

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