Listen – Understand – Act: A simple approach for a happy customer

Maybe I am just over sensitive to things around me, but everyday of my life it amazes me how many companies I see that do not actually listen to their audience; be it their actual or prospective customers.

They also do not nurture the customers they do have effectively.

And the irony is if they did all of the above even a little bit they would be far more successful, and increase customer patronage and retention.

A couple of real examples:

Example 1: The Cafe

On the street that I work on there are several Cafe’s and Restaurants. The difference in cost of the menu’s and coffee is negligible at best. The key reason I use a particular cafe on a daily basis is convenience, convenience that I have to walk for 30 seconds, not 45 seconds.

The staff aren’t that friendly, they don’t know my name, they never remember what I have despite having had the same juice everyday for the last two years, and their loyalty card does not include juices.

I regularly bring suppliers and colleagues to this cafe for casual meetings where we spend our companies well earned cash.

You could call me an ambassador of the cafe, despite the above.

But what happens when I try the cafe 45 seconds up the road?

I immediately change cafe. Old Cafe loses a customer, new cafe is elevated even higher in my mind because of the comparison with the incumbent because they do know my name, I can ask for the “usual’, and they do give me to have a free juice every now and again because of my loyalty.

Where did the first cafe go wrong? And could they have easily fixed this?

Example 2: The Hotel

I recently stayed in a hotel in Medewi, on the north-west coast of Bali. The hotel was incredible, amazing pool, incredible room, friendly staff and good food, yet a lot of the customers (including me) didn’t stay for the full time that I had paid for.
Every day, I (and other customers) would get on our scooters and head to another resort about 15 minutes away and spend money there instead. The food / drink at the other resort wasn’t any better or less expensive, nor was the resort itself nicer, in fact it wasn’t as good.
  1. So why were we all leaving early? 
  2. Why were we not spending money at the resort? 
  3. Could the hotel have easily prevented this?
  1. We were bored, the place was very remote and the staffs english was fairly limited. We didn’t know what there was to do in the area, and the place had no wifi so we couldn’t check.
  2. Through WOM people heard that another resort had free wifi, so we all went there and spent our money.
  3. Absolutely! 
    • The resort could get wifi, so people didn’t need to go to the other ‘lesser’ resort to spend money
    • Instead of trying to always sell their overpriced and limited tour packages they could have invested in a simple ’10 things to do in the local area’ document, giving directions, travel times, and overview of costs. 
    • The resort could have read all the constructive feedback on Tripadvisor, they could have asked customers when they had their weekly prize draw every Wednesday when the Managers socialise in ‘happy hour’ with the customers, they could ask customers ‘what could we improve’ when they are leaving.
    • They could have acted on all of the feedback.
Simple, fixable problems, with simple, easy solutions.

The Social Media example:

Every company ‘wants’ to be on social media. It’s where all the cool kids hand out right?

But if asked ‘why?’ they want to be on social media some may respond “because everyone else has a Facebook page“, some may say “because we want to listen to what our customers have to say“, yet very few would say “so we can hear and interact openly with our customers to know what they like and what they dislike, and then act upon the feedback to make their experience and the service we provide as good as we can“.

A few questions for you to ponder

  • How does your company reward customer loyalty?
  • Name five gripes you think your customers have with your company/services?
  • How and when can you fix these gripes?
  • How easy do you make it for your customers to communicate directly with you about a problem they have had? 
  • How quickly do you respond to your customers?
  • How much of your new business is created through word of mouth – be that directly or via reviews and social media?
  • Really, how important is your customers experience of your brand / service?


If we want to do the best job / service we can, if we want to create advocates of our customers so that they speak highly of our company in their social circles, if we want to retain our customers and spend our time, efforts and money reaping the rewards from them and not battling to win new customers (that we may then lose); then we must open our eyes and our ears and be willing to act.

As per the two examples above, the solution is often so simple, so easy, and problems very fixable, yet the ramifications of assuming, not asking, and therefore not acting are massive.
Don’t waste your time wasting time – engage with your customers and act.

Never settle for ok, always strive to connect with your customers. Nobody likes to be told negative things, but in business and this connected world, better you know and can neutralise and fix the problem then lose business without knowing, and then be too late to do anything about it!

  • Know your audience
  • Ask your audience
  • Listen to your audience
  • Act
  • Review
  • Repeat

About the author
Si Muddell is a Digital Strategist who has worked extensively both agency and client side. Si is fascinated about marketing, psychology & what motivates people, and loves guitar, surfing and travelling.

Get connected with Si on TwitterLinkedIn &

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