"Experience Investigators" crane logo
Eager to get started? Call us at 312-676-1315.

How to Listen for Untold Feedback to Boost Your Business Results

Your customers actively give clues about (or directly tell you!) how to improve their experience. But are you listening in the right ways?

A lot of customer experience teams focus on collecting surveys. And they send the same surveys each quarter or year, like clockwork.

Surveys can certainly help us see patterns around satisfaction, loyalty, and other key performance indicators—but customers are getting tired of them. (And I’d bet your team is, too!) Yet some of the most valuable information hides beyond typical survey results.

The opportunity now is for CX leaders to get better at finding and activating unspoken insights from the customer journey, understanding what our customers tell us when they’re simply behaving as normal.

Good news! You don’t need to be a mind reader to pull this off. With the help of artificial intelligence and a few less technical approaches, you can greatly improve your customer experience by listening to unspoken feedback.

3 Ways to Listen to Untold Customer Feedback

Don’t get me wrong, surveys are still valuable for improving your CX strategy. But they reflect the views of just a small portion of your customers.

If you send a survey to 100 customers, for example, you may get five responses back. Chances are you send surveys to only a small group of your customers, meaning you’re getting a very fragmented look at your customer experience. Essentially, over-relying on surveys causes CX teams to make assumptions on smaller and smaller sample sizes.

If you want a more complete look at your customer experience, you need to augment survey findings with insights from your customer’s actual conversations and information they share online.

Thanks to powerful artificial intelligence capabilities, this customer feedback is now easier to find—and increasingly useful for making real-time changes to your strategy. Let’s explore three ways to uncover untold feedback:

1. Text Analysis for CX

Text analysis isn’t new, but it is becoming more and more reliable to understand our customers like never before. Text analysis is a broad category encompassing a few distinct areas including sentiment analysis, topic modeling, text classification, and text clustering (look for these capabilities as you research vendors).

At their core, text analysis tools ingest written communication to assess if the language is positive, neutral, or negative. These tools can also identify key themes or trends across huge volumes of interactions.

There are a few great CX uses for text analysis:

  • Service desk requests: Text analysis tools can quickly identify common topics or issues across your help desk tickets so you can prioritize those pressing items. As agents engage with customers through chat, some tools can analyze the conversation in real-time to identify if the customer’s mood has potentially changed based on the language they are using.
  • Social media monitoring: CX teams and brand leaders can monitor social media channels to see what customers talk about in relation to the brand. This type of monitoring can also cover what customers say about the industry, their use cases, competitor experience, factors that may impact their purchasing decisions, and more. It’s also helpful to identify potentially troublesome issues before they spread or become a full-blown crisis.
  • Learning the Voice of the Customer (VoC): One of the best ways to build relationships with customers is to speak like they do. Text analysis tools can track which words or phrases your customers commonly use when speaking about their work or industry and your product or service. This information helps you tailor your messages and ensure your reps understand any lingo your customers use.

Text analysis is relatively easy to implement so you can start analyzing feedback and information from all sorts of sources, including surveys, interviews, focus groups, social media, and your customer service interactions.

2. Audio Analysis for CX

Audio analysis capabilities take the benefits of text analysis and apply them to verbal communication, making them a powerful tool for contact center and sales teams.

AI has evolved to identify emotional cues during customer conversations. In one analysis, nearly half of customers yelled or raised their voice when talking about their most serious problem on a customer service call. With an audio sentiment analysis tool, your team can more readily identify these moments in real-time. This also enables you to test new messaging or conversation flows to see what leads to the best customer experience.

Audio sentiment analysis may not be able to save every customer from a dissatisfactory call experience, but it can help you train your team and become better prepared for the range of situations they may face.

3. Facial Recognition for CX

Airports, hospitals, and hotels have been testing and using facial expression recognition software with some success in recent years. Special cameras and software pick up on common facial expressions, like a furrowed brow for confusion, and report how people appear to be feeling during different points in the customer journey.

These tools can also work during video calls with customers! Platforms like Zoom have introduced features to analyze customer sentiment during sales or business meetings, so look into whether your workplace tools offer this capability.

Facial recognition is understandably a hotly debated topic in CX. I encourage you to be transparent about how customer information is or is not used (your privacy statement is a great spot to include this information). And use these capabilities with the sole intent of creating a better customer experience.

If your company is against using AI for this purpose, you can use manual methods. If you’re using video chats or other face-to-face methods of interacting, ask your agents to “read” expressions the same way that tools can. There are some great ways to train these skills, but your best agents will already know how to do this.

Go ahead and Google “microexpressions” and body language. You’ll find many resources (like this one, which you can start with) on how to interpret non-verbal cues, and how to train others to do so.

Use Unspoken Feedback to Improve Your CX

Survey data is great, but it’s not the only tool in your toolbox. Understand your customers by listening, learning, and leading in ways that enrich the data you’re already gathering.

Pay attention to subtle signals: We love to celebrate the small improvements in numbers then look the other way when the numbers are dropping – oh so slowly. We may tell our executive team we had a great month because the overall Net Promotor Score (NPS) increased by one or two percentage points, but we don’t investigate the reason behind a single-point drop during another month.

Paying attention to subtle signals can enlighten us a great deal as to where we should start! Don’t discount the importance of a “blip” on the dashboard. And when customers tell you what they need—be sure you’re listening!


About Jeannie Walters, CCXP, CSP

Jeannie Walters CCXP CSP small square photoJeannie is an award-winning customer experience expert, international keynote speaker, and sought-after business coach who is trailblazing the movement from “Reactive Customer Service” to “Proactive Customer and Employee Experience.” More than 500,000 people have learned from her CX courses on LinkedIn Learning, and her insights have been featured in Forbes, The Chicago Tribune, The Wall Street Journal and NPR

Get Jeannie’s insights in your inbox each week by subscribing to The Weekly Win and follow her on LinkedIn, Instagram and YouTube.

Insights in Your Inbox

Subscribe to The Weekly Win and join thousands in our community receiving insider perspective from our Founder and Chief Experience Investigator, Jeannie Walters, CCXP.